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4/19/2012 7:10:00 PM
Financial education advocates tout Money Smart Week offerings in NWI

Bowdeya Tweh, Times of Northwest Indiana

GARY | Region bankers, educators and community group leaders are preparing to host a weeklong series of financial education seminars in connection with Money Smart Week.

At a news conference Thursday at Indiana University Northwest, supporters of the effort also called for financial education to have a place in childrens' classrooms and for continued support of efforts to provide banking services to those who are underserved.

Money Smart Week, which begins Saturday and runs through April 28, encourages promoting financial literacy and connecting people with resources to better manage their finances. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is the regional coordinator of Money Smart Week.

"Your efforts here are part of a much broader effort to help people manage their personal finances," said Dan Wassman, spokesman for the Chicago Fed, at the news conference.

Dian Reyome, chair of the Northwest Indiana Money Smart Week Council, said the group she leads takes financial education seriously and it bought 675 copies of the "Three Cups" book earlier this year to help children learn the importance of saving money. Reyome, who also is financial literacy coordinator for Merrillville-based Centier Bank, said the group will distribute those books to libraries around the region.

But children aren't the only ones needing education, according to Money Smart supporters.

Joshua Sledge, an analyst at the Chicago-based nonprofit Center for Financial Services Innovation, said one big issue is how can adults take the financial education they receive and change their behavior.

At the news conference, Sledge said his group has found people would be more likely to use the skills they learned if they were linked to a specific product. He also said mobile technology can help people manage their personal finances.

Reyome said one regional effort is already helping people improve their finances – by convincing them to open a low-cost account and avoid expensive alternatives. Since the Bank on Northwest Indiana effort launched last year, the group expects to beat the goal of opening 1,000 new, low-cost bank accounts and already has provided services to more than 1,500 unbanked and underbanked people in the region.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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