Simply Money Advisors discuss how a low credit score can cost you more than $200,000 in your lifetime. Simply Money, Cincinnati Enquirer
April is a tough month to not think about your money.
Everywhere you turn, you’re smacked with something — waiting for your tax refund, writing a check to pay the federal government what you owe, meeting a deadline to fund your Roth IRA.
And yes, Money Smart Week.
This year, Michigan’s Money Smart Week isn’t just one stretch of seven days. Instead, it’s turned into a month of events that run through April 30 to highlight financial literacy month. Many key Money Smart Week seminars run this week.
We’re looking at a wide range of events that can help consumers do everything from learn how to repair their credit to even fixing the zipper on their pants, a sure-fire way to save real money.
And it’s all free — free, free, free.
“It’s cheaper to fix what you’ve got, especially when it’s fixed for free at the Repair Cafe,” said Denise Harris-Fiems, a reference librarian at the White Lake Township Library, which will host the event April 6.
The repair event — which runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the library — is about sustainability and creating a sense of economic balance. How many times do you throw something that’s still usable away — only to spend good money to buy something new — because you just have no idea how to fix it?
The thrifty concept reminds me of my Dad who just loved to try to fix things. He wasn’t afraid to try to tackle anything. His goofy motto: “If it’s broken, it’s broken” — meaning you can’t lose anything of value by trying to see what you can do to repair it.
The repair cafe has attracted 50 to 75 people in past years. The fixers are volunteers with a skill set — including someone who sharpens knives, fixes zippers and makes small repairs involving lamps. The librarian’s husband Dennis Fiems is a woodworker and will be there to help make some small repairs on furniture.
The volunteers include an electrician, a seamstress, a sewing machine repairer and someone with expertise in jewelry repair.
They’re not going to try to fix your microwave at the library. But long-time, local radio host Joe Gagnon — who made a name as the Appliance Doctor — will be in the house to chat about complicated do-it-yourself repair issues with washing machines and the like.
“A lot of people just don’t have these skills any more,” Harris-Fiems said. “People kind of forget that maybe it might be fixable.”
When it comes to fixing your finances, Money Smart Week offers free seminars that cannot include any sales pitch.
Educational programs involve partnering with many local and regional organizations, as well as the American Library Association, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The program was launched in 2002 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which coordinates what’s now a national campaign to help people get smart about their money.
Many times, the programs offer a good opportunity to ask questions about everyday problems, such as how to fix your credit score.
“We know that having bad credit not only affects access to credit and good terms, but it affects your insurance rates, your employment possibilities, your housing options, all kinds of things,” said Anne Harpe, vice president and community consultant for PNC Bank in Troy.
“We know that being poor is expensive,” she said. “And learning how to make your credit score work for you can make it less so.”
As part of its Money Smart Week programs, PNC Bank is partnering with Oakland County Michigan Works! to provide four workshops to help consumers learn about credit scores and provide guidance to help a person get out of debt.
The Arab American Chaldean Council (ACC) will be involved with Money Smart workshops to promote financial literacy and identity protection for refugees and other new Americans. The Monday and Tuesday events will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Arab American Chaldean Council at 363 W. Big Beaver Road in Troy. The events are sponsored by the Arab American and Chaldean Council, in partnership with Chemical Bank, Flagstar Bank, Huntington Bank and Michigan State University Extension Program.
A similar program will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Arab American Chaldean Council Macomb County office at 38219 Mound Road in Sterling Heights. The events are from 9:30 a.m to noon.
Financial emergencies, credit scores, ID theft
Tuesday: Preparing for financial emergencies. The session includes information on how to pay down excessive credit card debt and improve your credit score. The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Oakland County Michigan Works! office at 550 Stephenson Highway, Suite 400, in Troy. Oakland County Michigan Works! will offer 22 free seminars through Friday to help consumers make smart decisions with their money. Free sessions will be held at Michigan Works! service centers in Highland, Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy and Waterford.
Tuesday: Building a better credit score. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Wayne County Community College District- Northwest Campus at 8200 W Outer Drive in Detroit. Sponsored by Wayne County Community College District and Comerica Bank.
Thursday: Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Consumer Education Team is hosting two free seminars addressing identity theft. The seminar in Lansing is from 12:05 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. in the G. Mennen Williams Auditorium located at 525 West Ottawa Street. The seminar in Detroit is from 12:05 p.m. to 12:50 p.m., in the Cadillac Place – Room L150 located at 3068 West Grand Blvd.
Saturday: Money Smart Repair Café offers consumers a chance to figure out how to save money by getting small items repaired. Get free help trying to fix broken wooden items, jewelry, CDs & DVDs, dull knives, electrical items, knitted/crocheted items, etc. People with expertise are invited to share their skills. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the White Lake Township Library at 7527 E Highland Road. Sponsors are: Waterfall Jewelers and Way To Sew.
And of course, learn about scams
April 16: How to avoid investment scams and financial fraud. Discussions will include how to obtain objective facts about reverse mortgages and annuities. Consumers also can learn how to investigate both the seller and the product before investing. Sponsored by the Detroit Public Library Douglass Branch For Specialized Services and the Michigan Attorney General Consumer Education office. The event is from noon to 2 p.m. at the Douglass Branch for Specialized Services at 3666 Grand River in Detroit.