Column

Oliver: Money Smart Week offers way to learn the easier way

H. Rick Bamman -hbamman@shawmedia.com 
Joan Oliver Northwest Herald assistant news editor
H. Rick Bamman -hbamman@shawmedia.com Joan Oliver Northwest Herald assistant news editor

Life is a long string of lessons. A lot of what we come to know is by trial and error. Sure, we can learn the basics in school, but it can’t possibly cover every scenario or circumstance in which we’ll find ourselves.

For a lot of us, that goes for money matters especially. Sadly.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have an instructional manual, or at least a little more information to make better decisions?

I had the good fortune to be raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression. They made it abundantly clear I should not go into debt. “Live within your means” was the mantra. 

Of course, that was easier said than done. Some youthful forays with credit cards could have set me on a course a lot of people find themselves: in debt up to my eyeballs.

However, the good fortune of falling in love with my husband and paying off my credit cards before our wedding got our marriage off on the right financial footing.

However, wouldn’t it be better to depend more on knowledge than luck when it comes to money matters?

That’s where Money Smart Week, which takes place Saturday through April 29, can help fill in the gaps in our knowledge of dollars and cents, insurance and a whole lot more.

The event was created in 2002 by the Money Smart Advisory Council, a group of more than 40 Chicago-area organizations with the goal of promoting financial literacy.

The effort, coordinated in part by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, has expanded a lot since then, with campaigns in more than a dozen states. Last year, more than 27,000 people participated in more than 1,100 events in Illinois, the people behind Money Smart Week said.

Local offerings cover topics including borrowing basics, home ownership, banking, money matters for kids, taxes for small business, financial planning, business insurance, reverse mortgages and utility bills.

Area programs are planned at McHenry Bank and Trust, Crystal Lake Bank and Trust, the Crystal Lake Public Library and the McHenry Public Library.

For a complete list of offerings in McHenry County and the surrounding area, visit www.moneysmartweek.org and go to “Find Events.”

If you can’t make it to any of the area events, you still can obtain some valuable information by visiting the website and going to the “Learn” section.

There you will find links to topics such as “10 Bad Financial Habits You Need to Break to Get Out of Debt,” “7 Reasons Why Your Personal Budget is Failing and How to Fix It,” and “Saving for College.”

Or you can visit www.mymoney.gov. There you will find money quizzes and suggestions based on “life events” such as getting married, having a child, planning for college, starting a business or death of a family member, to name a few.

No doubt we all could use a little help and information to make better decisions with our hard-earned cash.

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to attend the School of Hard Knocks to figure out what works?

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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