Did you take a personal finance course in high school? If so, then you were better off than most Iowa high school students. Many are not required to learn anything about how to use credit cards, buy a house or car, save, invest or shop for insurance. And if you didn’t take a personal finance class—or if you had an inadequate one—then you know how hard it is to learn those things on the fly once you are living on your own.

“The cost of not [taking a personal finance class] is already enormous—homeowners facing foreclosures, soaring credit card debt, more personal bankruptcies, more defaults on college loans and a severe lack of retirement nest eggs,” says Joanne Kuster, state chair, Money Smart Week Iowa.

Money Smart Week, April 23-30, is a national public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. As the governor’s proclamation designating this Money Smart Week Iowa says, “Acquisition of financial literacy skills by our citizens will improve the quality of their lives, will provide them with skills for success, will contribute to positive changes for the communities in which they live and work and will benefit the economy of the state.”

With so many young people and adults lacking financial knowledge, Iowa’s future is at stake. That’s why United Way of Central Iowa is committed to helping the state’s most vulnerable gain the financial footing they need to thrive in today’s complex economy.

34.7% of central Iowans are
financially self-sufficient
(250% of poverty).

The Financial Capability Network, a United Way program sponsored by Wells Fargo and located at the
Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, provides low- to moderate-income individuals and families with a pathway to financial literacy. Group workshops, job training and placement, and one-on-one coaching helps participants develop the skills necessary to understand their financial situation and act to improve it.

United Way of Central Iowa’s Smart Steps program delivers classroom training to adults on probation and parole and youthful offenders. Students take the 11-module FDIC Money Smart curriculum, which provides basic financial and money-management skills, ranging from banking to credit reports.

These two programs are just a small part of United Way of Central Iowa’s multifaceted strategy to increase the percentage of central Iowans who are financially self-sufficient to 75 percent—our year 2020 goal. Learn how you can get involved in our income efforts as a volunteer or advocate.

As important as it is to help others gain secure financial footing, don’t neglect your own security. Keep these tips in mind in our digital age:

  • Monitor your financial accounts for fraud.
  • Use only secure websites when shopping online.
  • Check your credit reports regularly.
  • Don’t transmit sensitive data over unsecure or public WiFi.
  • Use strong passwords and change them often.
  • Protect your phone with a password or passcode.
  • Download apps only through the official app store.
  • Keep your security software current.

Other Resources

Paying for College
10 Ways to Cut Your Debt Now
The Five Building Blocks for Managing Your Money
Money Smart Week Events in Central Iowa

Become a Financial Capability Network Advocate

Topics: Financial Stability

Renee Miller

Written by Renee Miller

Renee Miller is the United Way of Central Iowa's Chief Community Impact Officer.