This edition of Money Smart News is being published in advance of two key events for financial educators. One is America Saves Week (February 19-26), a nationwide annual campaign through which thousands of organizations promote good savings behavior. The other is Financial Literacy Month (April), when government agencies, private organizations and community groups make a concerted push to raise consumers’ awareness about the benefits of learning more about their financial matters.
While these are annual events, our messages as financial educators -- in the classroom and in the community -- shouldn’t be the same year after year. In other words, because of changes in the economy or the way people do business, our messaging needs to fit the current times. Don’t dust off the same approaches and delivery strategies from last year -- and the year before last -- and assume that they are timely again this year
What do we see as being new and informative in 2012? Many of the recent trends in personal financial management involve technology. For example, as part of the U.S. Treasury’s “all-electronic initiative,” all new Savings Bonds (not including those purchased using part of a tax refund at tax time) are only being issued electronically. In addition, people eligible to receive federal benefits such as Social Security and, in certain states, benefits such as unemployment insurance, must receive their money electronically instead of by check.
At the same time, commerce has caught up with how people communicate and seek information, leading to a new term: social commerce. How so? Consumers are increasingly targeted for special offers via e-mail or smartphones, and they must be vigilant to not let the promise of a “discount” lure them into an unnecessary purchase or, even worse, a fraudulent transaction. And, trends in the falling volume of U.S. mail reflect that many consumers are opting to handle their basic financial needs online -- sometimes exposing themselves to unnecessary risks and fees. That may be the case if, for example, a consumer deals online with a third-party account manager without reviewing its security and privacy policies first, or if the individual pays substantial fees to get a money advance online.
While the ways finances are handled have evolved from past years, core financial education concepts still hold true. Among them: comparison shopping for financial services, taking steps to avoid identity theft, and using a budget to manage spending. And, from a delivery standpoint, the Money Smart curriculum is regularly updated to reflect the times and is still a great tool and catalyst for bank and community partnerships to equip consumers with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate changing financial times.
This edition of Money Smart News highlights how community depository institutions have used our financial literacy curriculum to both help local residents and create new business opportunities – important and timely topics especially given that Money Smart was rolled out in 2001 as a tool for partnerships between banks and communities.
And for anyone who has a question, a recommendation or a Money Smart success story to share with us, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Pearce Director
FDIC Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection
New Resource for Organizations Conducting Train-the-Trainer Workshops
For years, the FDIC has made available a brief train-the-trainer video to quickly acclimate prospective instructors to the Money Smart curriculum. The FDIC also conducts full-day train-the-trainer workshops on a limited basis to provide further guidance on implementing the curriculum. Recognizing that many Money Smart partners conduct their own train-the-trainer workshops for their staff or stakeholders who will be using the curriculum, the FDIC now offers a CD that contains useful resources for partners to use when conducting their own train-the-trainer workshops. To order the new CD, which is called “Train-the-Trainer (in-a-box) Resources,” go to the FDIC’s online product catalog.
Our Latest Success Stories: How Community Banks Are Strengthening Their Communities with Money Smart
Ten years ago, Money Smart was released as a tool for banks to “strengthen their communities.” This issue of our Success Stories highlights how community banks are using Money Smart to build new relationships. (Read the stories.)
FDIC Consumer Newsletter Offers Strategies for Building a Better Financial Future
Consumers have important decisions to make when it comes to managing money and saving for their future, particularly in a tough economy when every dollar counts. To help consumers make choices based on practical information from reliable sources, the Fall 2011 issue of FDIC Consumer News offers simple strategies in three areas: saving for retirement, improving credit scores, and buying vs. renting a home. In addition, the issue offers new tips and information related to Internet banking. Financial educators are encouraged to use FDIC Consumer News as a supplemental handout for students. See this issue of the newsletter and subscription information (the newsletter is available free) at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall11.
Helping Consumers Understand How FDIC Deposit Insurance Works
Financial educators can introduce students to deposit insurance using a variety tools provided by the FDIC. For example, the FDIC’s Web site at www.FDIC.gov/deposit/deposits includes a series of videos on deposit insurance coverage and a three-minute video describing how the insurance fund works. Also available through the Web site are the FDIC brochures “Insured or Not Insured?,” a guide to what is and is not protected by FDIC insurance, and both “Deposit Insurance Summary” and “Your Insured Deposits,” which describe deposit insurance coverage with helpful examples. For answers to specific questions, consumers can call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) or e-mail a question using the online form at www2.fdic.gov/starsmail.
Advisory Committee Examines Trends in Mobile Banking, Prepaid Cards
The FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion (ComE-IN) met December 1, 2011, to discuss innovations in the delivery of financial services such as mobile financial services and prepaid cards, which may provide opportunities and challenges for the underserved. Two FDIC pilot programs also were discussed. One is the model “safe accounts” pilot, in which nine financial institutions offer safe, low-cost transaction and savings accounts for low- and moderate-income consumers. The other initiative, the Adopt-a-School Pilot Program, gives FDIC employees the opportunity to teach the essentials of money, banking and personal finance to students at schools in underserved communities on official time. To watch a video or access handouts from the meeting, visit http://www.fdic.gov/about/comein.
Make the Most of America Saves Week
America Saves Week is an annual campaign that provides an opportunity for organizations and professionals to promote good savings behavior by individual consumers. The theme of this year’s campaign (February 19-26) is “Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically.” The FDIC is one of the many partners supporting the program. To learn more about how or your organization can get involved, visit http://www.americasavesweek.org.
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