Get smart about money Week all set

From tips to climb out of debt to learning about pet-related expenses in terms a youngster can grasp, the free offerings for Money Smart Week from Saturday through May 1 locally overflow with ideas for dollars and sense.

The Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition has presented an array of activities and aids to boost residents’ financial knowledge and footing since 2009, according to organizers. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago first launched Money Smart Week in 2002 as a public awareness campaign to help consumers better manage their money.

“It’s just one week to focus on (a variety of) financial elements,” said Mary Clare Speckner, chair of the mix of events. “But there are financial events going on around here nearly all the time.”

For instance, at the library, where Speckner serves as community services coordinator, she regularly books presentations on topics ranging from avoiding financial scams to couponing. Both of those topics will be highlighted in the coming days as part of the special week.

Money Smart Week events draw plenty of youngsters as well as adults, thanks to kidscommons museum.

Last year, about 1,000 children attended a special Free Family Day during Money Smart Week at the museum, said Diane Robbins, kidscommons’ community relations and marketing manager. Nearly every activity that day included some money-related connection. This year, Free Family Day is slated for May 1.

Also, kidscommons has added a new event for its clientele — an adopt-a-stuffed-animal project. Children are to pretend the animal is real and follow a series of scenarios in which they care for and cover expenses for the pretend critter.

“This is something that puts things on a level they can easily understand,” Robbins said.

Mill Race Center, the Columbus facility that serves the 50-plus population, is working with the local JCB Investment Management and Trust Services to present “Preventing Financial Abuse: Protect Your Pocketbook” on April 28 to keep seniors from being scammed. The gathering will include a panel of experts from law enforcement, adult protective services and elsewhere — and a free lunch.

Cindy Chodan, Mill Race Center’s director of programming and membership, mentioned that such education is vital in a rapidly evolving marketplace for any-age resident.

“It’s a whole new world out there,” Chodan said, referring to online and elsewhere. “And things are really moving so fast. The more education like this we can do, the better for everyone.”

Some highlights of Money Smart Week
  • Geocache for College Cash: Now through April 30. Area college students answer financial-related questions for a chance for two of them to win a $250 scholarship.
  • Couponing For Beginners: 6 p.m. April 27 at the Bartholomew County Public Library Red Room, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.
  • Money Smart Budgeting: Noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Bartholomew County Public Library Red Room, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.
  • Life-Size Monopoly: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 28, Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus. For those in grades 7 through 12.
  • Debt-Free Through Dave Ramsey: 6 p.m. April 28 at the Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.

Information: bemoneystrong.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.