Celebrate Money Smart Week 2019 by Exploring the Personal Finance Resources of the Birmingham Public Library

by Jim Murray, Business, Science and Technology Department, Central Library

The 18th annual Money Smart Week, a nationwide campaign focused on increasing awareness of money management skills, is being held March 30–April 6, 2019. Begun in 2002 under the auspices of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Money Smart Week was originally limited to 40 participating agencies in the Windy City, but has since spread across the U.S. to include hundreds of banks, financial institutions, civic organizations, schools, and libraries that make their resources available to provide personal finance education opportunities for consumers of all ages. In 2011, the American Library Association came on board as a collaborating partner. This is all done with the goal of increasing the nation’s financial literacy so that everyone will be better informed when making important decisions regarding budgeting, savings, investing, credit/debt management, college/career planning, insurance, taxes, and retirement planning.

The Money Smart Week website is a great place to start for anyone looking for educational resources that will help them increase their money smarts. For adults, there are short minute-long videos on such topics as understanding compounded interest, preventing identity theft, and investing in mutual funds. If you have a longer attention span, you will probably also want to check out their webinars on estate planning, social security, or investing. Additional resources link you to the websites of other organizations engaged in financial education on issues like getting out of debt, saving for college, and getting married.

If, however, you prefer to increase your money smarts with resources located closer to home, then take a look at what the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has to offer. For those who still like books (whether they be in hardcopy, audio CD, or downloadable formats), we’ve got you covered with an abundance of titles focused on a variety of money management topics, including budgetinginvestments, managing debt, credit and credit repair, tax planning, buying a house and/or investing in residential properties, paying for college, estate planning, and retirement planning.

The Birmingham Public Library’s research databases are also a marvelous resource for learning more about aspects of personal finance. These databases are free to use and can be accessed from any BPL location or from home if you are a resident of Birmingham and have a valid JCLC library card. Two of these databases, Morningstar and Value Line, can be utilized by both seasoned and novice investors to find current, reliable, and unbiased information on stocks and mutual funds. Mergent Online and Mergent Archives provide current and historical analysis of individual companies and industries. Business Insights: Essentials and Business Source Premier are both great sources for company profiles, industry profiles, country reports, and market research. For those whose interests are less about investing and more about, say, career preparation and financial aid, BPL subscribes to two databases that are a treasure trove: Career Cruising, Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center. LearningExpress Library is a database that can help further your career aspirations as well by making available test preparation material and actual practice tests for the GED, ACT, SAT, GRE, and dozens of civil service related examinations.

Finally, if you’re learning style leans more toward in-person instruction, BPL is here to help with that as well. Each month BPL locations host a variety of educational programs devoted to job searching, career development, entrepreneurship, and workforce skills. Consult the online calendar of events to find a program near you. Whether it's basic computer skills, Microsoft software applications, job search using Google, GED test prep, steps to starting your own business, or information about managing a nonprofit organization, BPL has something of interest for everyone. Of special note is the monthly financial literacy program held at BPL’s Central location, Money Matters. Made possible through collaboration between the library and the UAB Regions Institute for Financial Education, the 2018–2019 Money Matters series is devoted to retirement planning issues.

So, whichever way you prefer to learn more about personal finance, take advantage of the resources available at the Birmingham Public Library. Library staff members are available not only during Money Smart Week, but during all fifty one other weeks throughout the year, to help you locate the proper book, database, or public program to fit your needs. For more information, please contact the Central location’s Business, Science and Technology Department by calling 205-226-3690.