A dozen years ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago organized the first Money Smart Week. It was a conglomeration of consumer education classes in the Chicago area, and it was a hit. Many people, it turned out, were looking for ways to get more bang for their buck.
By 2014, the event has spread to more than a dozen states, and the local Fed has assembled an awesome array of classes for people of all economic classes and persuasions. Within 25 miles of the Loop, there are 50+ events each day between April 5-12. They range in topic from getting a mortgage to planning an estate. The geographic range of events is just as broad; you can get your Social Security questions answered at a Panera in Wheaton, learn how to save money shopping using phone apps at the Calumet City Library, learn about IRAs and 401ks in Deerfield or how a child should manage an allowance on the South Side of Chicago - and that's just on the first day!
The Illinois SBDC/Duman Entrepreneurial Center at JVS Chicago will participate by offering three workshops. A lunchtime workshop on Tuesday, April 8 will show attendees How To Prevent Identity Theft. A Wednesday, April 9 afternoon workshop will explain How To Start a Small Business In Illinois, and that evening there will be a workshop at the Highland Park Library on Effectively Dealing with Financial Crisis.
"These three workshops on very different topics show the range of subject matter covered by Money Smart Week," said Donna Rockin, director of the Illinois SBDC/Duman Entrepreneurial Center, "and they also show the breadth of expertise at JVS Chicago."
Some of the more unusual workshops given by other organizations include:
- Want to play "Antiques Roadshow"? You can learn about Antique Appraising at an April 6 workshop at the Morton Grove Public Library.
- The same Sunday, April 6, kids can learn how to save the planet while saving money at the Museum of Science and Industry.
- Fans of horror movies and Stephen King novels may enjoy "How to Respond to IRS Notices" on Monday morning, April 7.
- For folks with an Xgames attitude, there is "Sister Save-a-lot: Extreme Couponing" given on Monday evening, April 7, at the Pullman branch of the Chicago Public Library.
- "Shift Your Assets from Clutter to Cash" is the focus of an April 7 evening workshop at the Manning branch of the Chicago Public Library.
- Northeastern Illinois U. will host "Fast Food Deception," perhaps the most ironic workshop. Its description reads, "This workshop will discuss the economic and health risks of fast food and show you how to prepare your own." Hmmm…
Most of the workshops are more straightforward, involving activities like paying your income tax, building your credit rating or learning what veterans benefits you are entitled to. All the Money Smart Week events are free of charge, but many require advanced registration. You can link to the events on the Money Smart Week website.