America Saves, the organization that coordinates the annual America Saves Week , is working with Money Smart Week on a public awareness campaign that began April 5th. Money Smart Week seeks to connect providers of financial education to consumers who want to better manage their personal finances.
The need to connect consumers with financial resources is clearly there, as Americans continue to face challenges saving money and paying bills even as the country continues a slow economic recovery. In February, Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America, discussed the results of the America Saves’ annual survey saying,
Only about one-third of Americans are living within their means and think they are prepared for the long term financial future. One-third are living within their means but are often not prepared for this long term future. And one-third are struggling to live within their means.”
The first Money Smart Week occurred in 2002. It began with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago coordinating with over 40 organizations who wanted to provide quality financial education to consumers. This year is the 10th Anniversary of the campaign, and it has grown to include partners across the country. Organizers would like to see Money Smart Week become a true national program, able to reach consumers with targeted campaigns in all 50 states.
Money Smart Week’s website offers links to quality financial education resources. They refer consumers to tools that offer information on Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Debt Assistance. One of the most useful links I found takes visitors to MyMoney.gov. The Financial Literacy and Education Commission supplies the content for MyMoney.gov and they also operate a toll-free hotline, 1-888-My Money (1-888-696-6639).
Under the “Tools” section, MyMoney.gov provides links to calculators individuals can use to figure out how much federal tax to withhold from their paychecks, determine how long it will take to pay off debt, and even pick the best student loan repayment plan. The site also has advice on how to plan for life events, such as having a baby, and money quizzes, so you can test your knowledge about borrowing, earning, protecting, saving and spending money.
Making it easier to access and understand financial tools and information is one of the keys to helping consumers both save money and spend it wisely. Back in September 2013, Jack Markell wrote a blog for CNNMoney highlighting the need for Americans to learn more about their personal finances. He cites a national Harris Interactive survey showing 78% of adults believe it is difficult to learn about personal finance. This lack of education on how to manage money can cost consumers, as the survey goes on to say 43% of those surveyed believe they have missed out on good opportunities due to their lack of financial knowledge.
The Harris survey also found that Americans overwhelmingly expressed support for including personal finance as part of the high school curriculum, with 99% saying it is an important subject to teach students. Money Smart Week also wants to engage children in their efforts to educate Americans, and they offer content specifically for kids and teachers. Their partner, America Saves, offers Resources for Young Savers as well.
If you’re on Twitter, look for the hashtags #SavingsTipTuesday, #SavingsFactFriday, or #MoneySmartWeek to learn more or share ideas. For more information you can also check out Money Smart Week’s video, below.