Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Money touches virtually every aspect of our life, yet it’s an area few people put much energy into, and even fewer talk about. In the course of the day, we make dozens if not hundreds of financial decisions that in isolation seem like no big deal. But in aggregate, these small decisions can have significant impact on our overall well-being. From jobs, homes, automobiles and groceries, to kids, education, parents and retirement, our lives are filled with big and small financial decisions.

The world of personal finance is vast and filled with challenges. Some – like managing the money that comes in and goes out of your household – are dealt with on a daily basis, while others are seasonal or life-event driven – like planning and paying for college or retirement. For many people, the area of personal finance is not something they enjoy discussing or feel capable of effectively managing. It can be confusing, frustrating and downright overwhelming at times.

So, where do we learn the skills necessary to navigate the money-related decisions we’re faced with? Maybe we learned a little bit in school, or around the dinner table with mom and dad. Maybe some from granddad, an older sibling or a mentor. The likely answer is that we learned about personal finance as best we could when each decision confronted us.

From your first savings account, credit card, car loan, home purchase, investment product or insurance policy to your most recent quandary about paying for college, getting/keeping a job, or planning for retirement, most of us do our best to figure out what to do in a universe that is often filled with jargon, acronyms, titles, fine print and difficult choices. What’s a person to do?

One answer is to take a step toward becoming informed. But how? Take advantage of the more than 500 free, non-commercial money-related events and activities taking place in over 50 Michigan counties during Money Smart Week, April 18-25. And, be sure to check out the many online classes being offered as well.

Part of the Federal Reserve Bank’s national initiative, the Michigan Money Smart Week campaign offers programs that span the spectrum of financial matters. From the basics of budgeting, buying a home, managing debt, improving your credit score, and avoiding fraud, scams or identity theft, to learning about insurance, Social Security, investing and estate planning, there are “money smart” topics for everyone, from the novice to the seasoned, and for all income levels.

Who is Money Smart Week for? With events for kids, teens, college students and adults, there is something for virtually every life season. There are storytimes for children, where participating families will receive a free “Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense” book to keep, courtesy of the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates. Events for teens include money smart board games, life simulations, scavenger hunts and entrepreneurship lessons.

New this year is a GeoCache for College Cash program for college students who learn from seven personal finance posters and use a smartphone to scan a code, leave an answer and have a chance to win $1,000 college expense assistance, provided by the Financial Planning Association of Michigan, or an iPad contributed by the Michigan Education Trust.

Money Smart Week is made possible by the substantial contributions and collaborative efforts of hundreds of businesses, education institutions, libraries, government entities, non-profit organizations, places of worship, and the media…public, private and not-for-profit, all working together for the good of Michigan and our residents.

Join the money smart movement in Michigan, April 18-25, and be a money smarty.

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Mon, 04/13/2015 - 7:02pm
Is there a web site or call center to search to find if there are local related activities that a person could support?
Tue, 04/14/2015 - 6:43am
Hello Duane, Thank you for your comment. Yes, you can "Find Events" at website. After clicking on your state from the map, the site is searchable by zip code or topic. There are also a number of online programs taking place between April 18-25. So, even if there isn't an in-person event happening in your area, you can take advantage of an online option. We hope you find something of interest. Please spread the word. Like us on facebook: and follow us on twitter:
Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:03pm
Thanks for the link. Nothing in my town. There are reading/storyline sessions in various libraries in the county.