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Fin Lit Month 2021

Balancing a checkbook, making sure your expenses can be covered with your income, and saving for a rainy day emergency are all examples of financial literacy, or the ability to understand and effectively manage your personal finances. April is National Financial Literacy Month, a time dedicated to focusing on financial wellness. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) is proud to participate in this call to action.

Started by the U.S. Congress in 2004, Financial Literacy Month highlights the need for financial education and training for all Americans. Education programs target youth and teens in public schools and extend to community resources for adults. Properly managing funds is something we all can and should learn to do. According to Bankrate, only 37% of Americans currently have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency.

This month, take time to assess your financial situation and seek out resources provided by OCABR, our partners, and federal agencies. Below we list several programs and tools to encourage financial education throughout the year for consumers of all ages.

Consumer Money Matters
The Division of Banks (DOB), a regulatory agency within OCABR, offers a portfolio of online resources on their Consumer Money Matters webpage with tips and tools on how to make informed financial decisions. These pages cover bank account management, paying loans, accessing reverse mortgages, and debt collection rights. Check out the full list of resources here, because your money matters.

Credit for Life Fairs
The DOB is committed to educating consumers, which led to a partnership with the Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment (OEE) to provide grant programs supporting Credit for Life Fair events at high schools across Massachusetts. The fairs are an innovative way for students to learn about making real world decisions when it comes to saving, spending, and budgeting their money based on a range of career choices and lifestyle decisions. Last year alone, the DOB and OEE awarded over $120,000 to 46 schools across the Commonwealth. These grants are funded using money from DOB settlements over alleged unlawful lending practices.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Money Smart
It’s been 20 years since the FDIC first launched their financial education initiative to provide consumers with the tools necessary to build positive banking relationships. The Money Smart program is offered in a variety of mediums in order to remain accessible for all ages and disabilities. This includes computer-based instruction, podcast recordings, and lessons for parents to teach their children. Access Money Smart’s resources here.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Resilience and Recovery
This year, the CFPB’s theme for National Financial Literacy month is resilience and recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The past year has been difficult for the financial stability of millions of Americans—remember that help is available. The CFPB recommends checking your credit reports frequently to stay on top of your finances and identify any discrepancies. Part of the resilience and recovery theme is providing a comprehensive list of resources for to support consumers. For example, renters struggling to make payments have relief options and homeowners may be eligible for a mortgage forbearance. For a general list of resources from the CFPB, visit consumerfinance.gov.

The OCABR and its five regulatory agencies work to ensure a fair playing field for the both consumers and businesses in Massachusetts, and education and advocacy is a big part of achieving that goal. Visit our #MAConsumer resources pages to learn more about the latest consumer topics and connect with our state regulators.

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