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Get Financially Literate in April, or Anytime!
April is the cruellest month.
—T.S. Eliot, opening of The Wasteland.
What do you associate with April? April showers? April in Paris?
April claims the diamond as its birthstone and the daisy and sweet pea as its birth flowers. Starting mischievously with April Fool’s Day, April’s thirty days offer a pleasing potpourri of special events and commemorations including National Poetry Month, N.Y.C.'s Immigrant Heritage Week and, since March 2010, National Parkinson's Awareness Month. Don’t forget about World Health Day (April 7), Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 30 in 2010).
But let’s face it. Many of us in the U.S. focus on the day of demarcation at April’s midpoint—Tax Day—by which point we must have gathered the virtual and physical scraps representing our transactions of the previous year and pay our share to the government. This annual ritual reminds me of my need to learn more about money, so I’m glad it’s also Financial Literacy Month.
Money Management International, a Houston-based credit counseling agency offering credit and debt counseling services throughout the country under many names, provides a microsite with a thirty step path to “help you achieve financial wellness.”
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment offers a comprehensive suite of resources with crucial information on where to get help with debt and bankruptcy, and more general information on getting, managing, and saving money. Be sure to check out the links to their Financial Empowerment Centers for classes and one-on-one counseling opportunities.
The Go Direct® campaign, sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank, encourages those who receive government checks such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or VA Compensation and Pension checks, to switch to direct deposit via electronic payments. This eliminates the risk of stolen checks, reduces fraud, and gives these benefit recipients more control over their money while providing immediate access to the funds from anywhere. It also saves the government a lot of money, freeing up funds to cover the costs of future Social Security payments. For those who don’t have bank accounts, the U.S. Treasury recommends the Direct Express®—Debit MasterCard® card, a prepaid card that is a “safe, user-friendly option for Social Security and SSI payments."
So, you may ask—what is The New York Public Library doing to teach us about financial literacy this month? Glad you asked! NYPL’s Science, Industry, and Business Library’s Financial Literacy Now! webpage links you to library programs and classes on the topic, as well as to online resources and informational websites, podcasts, and links to other local and national resources. Plus, Fordham University Law School’s Coalition for Debtor Education will give 3 free presentations at neighborhood libraries geared to those midlife and older. But, whatever your age, you are welcome! The presentation, entitled: 10 Ways to Protect your Money: Ideas to keep your assets safe, avoid scams and safeguard your identity, will be given at:
- Riverdale Library in the Bronx, on Friday, April 23, 2010, 2 p.m.
- Baychester Library in Co-Op City (the Bronx) on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 11 a.m.
- Epiphany Library in Manhattan on Friday, May 7, 2010, 1 p.m.
Until then, remember:Time is like money, the less we have to spare the further we make it go. —Josh Billings