Family Checkbook: Save time (and cash) during Money Smart Week
By Kathy Sweedler
One of my favorite weeks of the year is coming up! Money Smart Week is April 5-12. Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Money Smart Week celebrates financial education. I love this week for the discussions it promotes, the steps I see people take to improve their financial wellness and the energy our communities devote to reaching out to people who want to learn more about money management!
Events sponsored by a wide variety of groups — businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and more — are free all week long in Champaign and Vermilion counties.
Have you been meaning to check your credit report (a good way to catch mistakes and identity theft) but just haven't done it yet? The Credit Workshop on April 9 in Champaign will discuss how to obtain a credit report and protect your credit. Or, call the U of I Extension Office (333-7672) to set up a time to have a money mentor help you check your reports online. Details about events are listed online at MoneySmartWeek.org.
At different life stages, different money questions arise. Many of the Money Smart Week events are geared toward those retired or thinking about retiring. Programs will address investing during retirement as well as making the most of your Social Security benefits. On April 12 in Danville, stop by the Route Your Retirement Fair to explore your retirement options. When downsizing, it can be difficult to distribute family heirlooms or special items. The program, Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate, in Hoopeston, will provide practical information to help.
But don't think we've forgotten those who are beginning to learn about money! On Saturday, many of the local libraries will feature a Money Smart Kids Read Storytime and Activity for kids 3 years old and up. We need to take time to teach our children about money, and our values related to money. Reading stories together is one way to start this conversation.
Do you find yourself somewhere between preschool and retirement? We have programs about buying a new home and setting up a checking account that may fit your current life stage. And, at all life stages, take advantage of local Community Shred Days to shred personal documents that contain your Social Security number or other identifying information. Budgeting programs such as Gardening on a Budget and Table for One or Two: Eating Well on a Smaller Scale may help stretch your dollars.
At all events, bring your questions! The presenters are excited to answer them. This news column is too short to list all the events available. To learn more, visit MoneySmartWeek.org or stop by your local University of Illinois Extension office to pick up a free printed event calendar. Free tax assistance offered during Money Smart Week also is listed in the calendar.
Just writing about all these events makes me excited! If you'd like to join in the fun even before Money Smart Week check out the Scavenger Hunt. Money Smart Hunt is a free, nationwide, photojournalistic scavenger hunt. To participate, you photograph yourself doing specific money-related tasks such as "check out a money related book at your local library, "high-five your banker," or "attend a Money Smart Week event." Each completed task and photo is awarded with points. And, for those with the most points, there are prizes! For more information, visit moneysmartweek.org/hunt
On a different note, University of Illinois Extension is taking applications for the Money Mentor volunteer program. If you'd like to help others with basic money management, this may be the volunteer program for you! To learn more, visit U of I Extension's website at web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/moneymentors/ or call Cayla Waters, Program Coordinator, at 217-442-8615. Training will begin on April 24.
We can all help others with money management. Thank you to those who have sent me money-saving tips. If you have tips or strategies that have helped you save money, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share them in a future column.
I hope to see you at a Money Smart Week event!
Kathy Sweedler is a consumer economics educator at the University of Illinois Extension. Contact her at 333-7672 or email email@example.com.