Are you money smart?

From elementary after-school programs to meeting with the Foster Grandparents, Fort Dodge’s first Money Smart week will attempt to bring useful information to all age groups.

The financial literacy outreach program was developed by the Federal Reserve Bank in 2002. This will be the first Money Smart week in Fort Dodge, said Barb Wollan, Iowa State University Extension family finance program specialist.

The program will kick off on Thursday with a luncheon and talk by David Oppedahl, economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, titled “Looking Out for Small Business.”

Further events will be held throughout the week, April 20 to 27, all organized by the local committee, Wollan said.

“We invited a lot of people who work in the financial industry,” she said.

GeoCache for College Cash will be available for high school seniors and all college students throughout the week at the Student Resource Center at Iowa Central Community College.

Sue Heistand, non-credit coordinator at ICCC, said there will be posters throughout the room that students can come see at any time. After studying the information, they can scan a QR code with their smartphones and answer quiz questions.

Students without smartphones can complete the quiz using pencil and paper.

A right answer will earn two entries in a drawing for a $1,000 scholarship for any college. Wrong answers will get one entry, Wollan said.

“I think there’s one scholarship for the whole state, so the odds are not in anyone’s favor, but they’re going to win just by participating because they’ll learn,” she said.

There’s quite a bit going on for younger people, said Fort Dodge Family Credit Union Manager Julie Pingel, one of the Youth Committee members.

“We’re doing both the BLAST after-school program (at Butler Elementary) and the St. Ed after-school program,” Pingel said. “We’re going in and doing some financial education for the kids in those programs, through fun activities.”

For example, kids can play bingo to learn the difference between purchasing a want and a need.

For adults, attorney Jim Kramer will give a presentation on planning for the future, Pingel said, touching on power of attorney information and how to structure income to maximize it for retirement.

Insurance agent Tracy Crimmins will talk about the “sandwich generation” – who have kids in school or in college while also dealing with aging parents – and some of the challenges they face, Pingel said.

An information fair called “Your Money: Make the Most of What You Have” on April 25 will be a good place to get the essential basics, Wollan said.

She said the session will cover “underlying skills that are critical to all financial success and progress.”

Four stations will teach visitors about specific topics.

“One thing we’re really excited about is we have somebody coming from the Consumer Credit Counseling agency in Ames,” Wollan said. “He will be available to talk about what it means, what it can do for you, what can’t do for you, when it might be helpful, how to access it.”

Credit counseling can be obtained by phone or over the Internet, she said, but if people don’t know what’s available they don’t even try.

There will be a table pointing people to other local resources, one on food shopping under a budget, and one on credit scores and reports. Another will focus on the risks and costs of certain “predatory loans,” like payday loans and rent-to-owns, Wollan said.

“People sometimes think they sound like an easy answer, but it is very rare that it works in someone’s benefit,” she said.