Oliver: Money Smart Week can give us tools for challenging times, beyond

Daily educational sessions held virtually can help us all be better with our money

Growing up, my parents set a pretty good example of how to handle money. We never had a lot of it, but they instilled in me the desire to stay out of debt, to save where possible and to work hard for what I wanted.

Still, maybe you’re like me, and the words “money” and “budget” and “investments” make you a little queasy. Or perhaps you’re a parent and you’d like to know how to better teach your children about how to handle money. Or maybe you’d just like to brush up on the knowledge you already have.

You are in luck. This year, Money Smart Week, which was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, is being held virtually. Each day starting April 10, one event will be held live each day, none of them longer than 20 minutes.

Topics range from talking to kids about money to dealing with identity theft. There really is something for everyone. Here’s the rundown on each day:

April 10: “Talking Cents,” presented by UChicago Financial Education Initiative. How do you talk to your children, aging parents or life partner about money? Discover easy strategies and simple tools to use to start these important conversations in a fun and comfortable manner. Takes place 10 to 10:15 a.m.

April 11: “Savings: A Little Can Make a Big Difference,” presented by FINRA Investor Education Foundation. Did you know that even a very modest savings cushion can be associated with major life improvements? Among other things, learn how little you might need to save per paycheck to reach attainable goals. Takes place 10 to 10:15 a.m.

April 12: “Bank On It: Finding Safe + Affordable Bank Accounts,” presented by the Economic Awareness Council. Learn about how to find accounts that remove the risk of overdraft, low balance charges and other high fees so that you can manage your money to spend on what you choose. Takes place noon to 12:15 p.m.

April 13: “Understanding the Basics of Federal Student Loans,” presented by the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid. Get a basic overview of federal student loan programs and learn tips to use federal student programs to help pay for education beyond high school. Takes place 12:30 to 12:50 p.m.

April 14: “Tax-Related Fraud + Identity Theft,” presented by the Internal Revenue Service. Learn how to recognize signs that your identity has been stolen for tax-related issues. Find out what to do if you are an identity theft victim and learn how the IRS can help. Also learn how to protect your records and stay aware of COVID-19 tax scams and phishing schemes. Takes place 1 to 1:15 p.m.

April 15: “Managing Personal Finances During COVID-19,” presented by Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. Learn suggestions for managing your money in a time of crisis. Topics include budgeting, emergency saving and managing debt. Financial know-how can help all of us better manage our finances, especially during the pandemic. Takes place 1 to 1:15 p.m.

April 16: “Housing Protections + Resources,” presented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This session will help consumers understand where to turn if they are having trouble making rent payments. Homeowners will learn how they are protected under federal law from foreclosure and can temporarily pause or reduce their mortgage payments if they are struggling financially. Takes place noon to 12:15 p.m.

April 17: “Tips for Managing Money Ups and Downs,” presented by University of Wisconsin, Division of Extension. Learn how to do your best with what you have available. Learn budgeting tips and tricks to help you plan ahead to meet your monthly financial obligations. Takes place 10:30 to 10:45 a.m.

See? Something for everyone. If you are interested in any of these sessions, you can visit the website and register for any of the webinars.

In these challenging times, a little know-how can go a long way.

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

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.