Grow Financial Literacy in April and Year-round

April is National Financial Literacy Month

April 4, 2017, 7:55 am | Sandra McKinnon, Laura Sternweis

AMES, Iowa -- It takes time and practice to establish healthy financial habits. A good time to start is April, National Financial Literacy Month, says Sandra McKinnon, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The United States has recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month since 2003. With it comes a focus on the importance of managing money, saving, banking, investing, estate planning, credit and debt, retirement planning and avoiding fraud.

Financial learning opportunities can be found in person or online in April and year-round through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said McKinnon, who specializes in family finance.

“We are a 99 county campus. Stop by your county extension office to learn about local programs near you," McKinnon said. "Visit us online to find finance programs for families, volunteers and professionals, plus a link to the Extension Store with publications about spending plans, investing, using credit, stretching your dollar, buying a house, planning for retirement and more."

Money Smart WeekMoney Smart Week

One of the highlights of National Financial Literacy Month is Money Smart Week, April 22-29. This national financial education campaign was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which serves Iowa.

During Money Smart Week national and state partners collaborate with local businesses, financial institutions, schools, libraries, not-for-profits, government agencies and the media to offer free learning opportunities. Last year, more than 5,400 events reached 174,000 consumers in 48 states. Iowa boasts being in the top 10 states for number of events, McKinnon said.

Money Smart Week offers free events for consumers of all ages. The possibilities may include workshops, shred events, a poster contest for elementary students, festivals, webinars, essay contests, a photo-based scavenger hunt, Scout Nights, and a mobile app contest, McKinnon said.

“You also may get to visit with Ben Franklin – in a sense. Some events may feature this American founding father known for financial advice,” McKinnon added.

“How would you answer this year’s Money Smart Kid essay contest questions? There are two questions to think about," she said. "First, do you think there is a connection between financial health and physical health? Second, what can you do to become more financially healthy? The winner, a student in grades 7-11, will be announced during Money Smart Week."

Money Smart Kids READ, a financial literacy initiative for families with children in third through fifth grade, features a book and activity. The initiative is in partnership with the American Library Association and the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.

Dash for the Stash

Dash for the Stash, a multistate investor education and protection program and poster contest, is also available in Iowa during April and May, McKinnon said. The four poster topics are financial advisers, investment fees, investor fraud and building a nest egg.

“To play, visit a participating location, read the content on each poster, scan the unique QR code to access the quiz question, and submit your answer via smartphone, tablet or computer. Spend 20 to 40 minutes of your time to play. If you submit correct answers, you will be entered in a random drawing for a $1,000 contribution to a new or existing Individual Retirement Account for 2017,” McKinnon said.

The program is a partnership between the Investor Protection Institute and the State Securities Offices. A national online version is available until the end of October.

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