Money Smart Week Helps Keep You in the Black - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

During Money Smart Week, April 21–April 28, more than 1,000 libraries across the country will host educational events that focus on financial issues such as the following:

  • first-time home buying
  • home renovation loans
  • personal spending plan (otherwise known as a budget!)
  • the property tax appeal process
  • financial aid packages and how to evaluate them
  • the right Medicare plan
  • the basics of wills and trusts
  • options for tax-free savings
  • charitable tax strategies, and more

“During Money Smart Week, libraries in rural, suburban, and urban communities are helping people examine their personal finances, whether that involves estate planning or budgeting for groceries,” says Felton Thomas Jr., executive director and CEO of the Cleveland Public Library.

“Libraries will use fliers and books and displays, and provide programming that will help their specific community, by connecting patrons with experts and advisers,” he continued.

Library patrons—and you don’t need a library card unless you’re checking out materials—will meet with money experts, not librarians.

Partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland and the Veterans Administration, the Cleveland Public Library has designed its Money Smart Week to work with veterans.

“It will be like a fair,” says Thomas, who is also a past president of the Public Library Association. “We want to get them signed up for their VA benefits. There will be different educational institutions, reps from the VA, and OhioMeansJobs [an employment initiative in Ohio].”

In Chicago, the public library is focusing on those in the sharing economy, such as Uber, Lyft, or Airbnb, who are now figuring out tax questions.

“IRS Taxpayer Advocates will be on hand to help patrons in the sharing economy,” Thomas said. “Other libraries are focusing specifically on children 5–8 years of age learning money management.”

In Pickerington, Ohio, a library will have a grocery store providing tips on how to manage the food budget.

“Every library is doing what it thinks is important for their community,” Thomas says, noting that no one socioeconomic group is targeted. “Everyone can learn to budget their funds better.”

“Money Smart Week shines a light on what libraries do,” says Thomas. “Libraries do this kind of programming all the time.”

To learn about activities at your local library, visit the Money Smart Week website.

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