Fair stresses need for families to think about money
By David Sharos For The Sun April 21, 2012 1:54PM
Approximately 50 Money Smart Week programs will be held in DuPage County during the coming week. A list of all programs offered during the week can be viewed at https://chicagofed.org/applications/msw_calendar/
Updated: May 24, 2012 8:17AM
Good financial management is always a good idea regardless of the state of the economy, and on Saturday, a wide range of money management options were available during the second annual Money Smart Week DuPage Fair and Expo at College of DuPage.
Organizers said this was actually the fourth year the event was held in DuPage County and the second year at the college, which moved Saturday’s kick-off event to the Homeland Security Education Center on campus. Organizer Lisa Jarmoszka, vice president of community affairs for BMO Harris Bank, said the change in venue would provide for more breakout sessions Saturday afternoon.
“This area at the Security Education Center offers a much better physical space and we’re offering some new breakout sessions based on feedback we got last year including information about credit scores and money management for women,” Jarmoszka said. “We also have some events specifically for kids like a money ‘Jeopardy’ game and a program called ‘Get Real’ which is for teens that talks about money management now and in the future.”
Financial education was clearly the theme of the day and Jarmoszka said one of the goals of Money Smart Week was to help parents teach kids how to manage money.
“Studies show that parents that are smart about money model good practices for their kids, but a lot of parents don’t know how to address those issues,” she said. “We’ve learned that in many families, money is more of a taboo subject than talking to kids about sex.”
Joe Cassidy, COD’s dean of Continuing Education, believes Saturday’s event as well as the money programs planned for the coming week would “draw a diverse group of people.”
“Our county is very diverse, and there are programs here for kids through older individuals who are already in retirement,” he said. “Our feeling is that money literacy needs to start at any early age.”
The program kicked off with a keynote address from Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose remarks were not about the state’s current financial woes but geared toward personal financial responsibility. Before speaking, Rutherford said he recognized the strong efforts of DuPage County to educate its residents.
“There are three issues we need to focus on including teaching youngsters about saving, using credit wisely once kids get to college, and finally the stage where people enter retirement,” Rutherford said. “I realize talking about these issues seems ironic, given the current financial state here in Illinois, but that doesn’t make them any less important.”
Many visitors who came out to the event Saturday were seeking information germane to their own life or business situation like Greg Battoglia of Oak Park, who is an architect concerned about keeping financial records. Battoglia said he planned to attend a breakout session Saturday afternoon called “Organizing Your Financial and Vital Records.”
“I feel good money management is always important whether the economy is up or down,” he said. “My wife and I were talking about this topic before I came, and we realize this is not the type of thing you learn when you go to college.”
Deena Manna, a financial service representative of MetLife said her company was hoping to offer some tips about retirement. The key, she said, is that people often wait too long to plan for the day when they don’t work.
“Some people take six months to a year to plan a week’s vacation somewhere, but don’t plan for retirement until the last moment,” she said. “Our feeling is that people today can’t rely on pensions, they need to take their money out and manage it themselves.”
Kids were also the focus of Saturday’s event as winners of a local writing contest were recognized during the program. This year’s winner of the Money Smart Kid Essay Contest was 13-year-old Bridget Sullivan of Darien, who said she was one of six finalists that included four Naperville students who all wrote 300-word essays about “when it would be wise or not OK to borrow money.”
“I learned about money from my parents and my grandparents and know if I manage it well I can live a good, happy life,” she said.
Ten-year-old finalist Samyag Madrecha, who attends White Eagle Elementary School in Naperville, said last year’s winner of the contest attended his school and came back to visit classes this year at White Eagle to talk about financial matters.
“We also had a unit in school about money and I like economics,” Madrecha said. “My parents are keeping my money for me now, but I want to manage my own money someday.”
Madrecha was asked what he might do with his own money once it was under his control.
“I won’t go and buy something like an iPod,” he said. “My parents already bought me one.”