Money Smart Week Educates DuPage

Consumers learned about smart spending and saving during DuPage County’s Money Smart Week. The week, put on by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and a variety of sponsors, included more than 400 events throughout all of Chicagoland. The events targeted consumers of all ages, from children to senior citizens setting up for retirement.

Money Smart Week kicked off with a showcase event at Benedictine University in Lisle awarding the winners of the 2010 essay contest. Although Ashraya Sreedhar was the runner-up of the contest, the White Eagle Elementary 5th grader’s speech stole the show. Sreedhar, who eventually wants to be a doctor, talked about the financial plan she’s putting together.

“I am in the process of creating a portfolio that consists of stocks, mutual funds, bonds a 529 savings plan, etc.,” said Sreedhar, who won a $750 scholarship as the runner-up of the contest.

Sreedhar and the contest’s other finalists, who all received monetary awards, make up a group of financially savvy youth that keynote speaker and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias feel is lacking not only in Illinois, but throughout America.

“It’s always shocking that young men and women go to grade school and high school and they take chemistry classes and (physical education),” said Giannoulias. But no one ever teaches these young men and women simple lessons about asset accumulation, spending priorities.”

But for people young and old, Money Smart Week was an opportunity to learn about structuring a safe financial future. One of the marquee events was all about a big green bus.

The Money Bus is exactly that, a hulking green bus that travels nationwide and offers free financial advice to anyone interested. The Money Bus stopped at College of DuPage as a part of Money Smart Week, giving many eager learners advice on retirement planning, banking and insurance plans. Organizers marveled at a larger-than expected crowd, crediting the recession and curiosity for the good turnout.

Naperville resident and mother of two Gladine Bolden was one whose curiosity brought her to Glen Ellyn, and she said it was worth the trip.
“I’m very very happy,” said Bolden, “I got a lot of good information and a lot of thoughts that I had, but now I can actually think that ‘Hey, I was thinking on the right track.'”

That’s exactly the reaction site coordinator Bill Keffer was hoping he’d receive.

“What we’re trying to do is promote financial literacy and help people understand that knowing more about how personal finance works is just to their benefit,” said Keffer. “In the short time like this we obviously can’t do comprehensive planning for people, but we can kind of point them in the right direction.”

That’s why Bolden has pointed her family in the same direction.
“I’ve called all of my family already, and said, ‘When it comes to your town, go,'” she said.

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