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Program ideas

Every month, we’ll provide you with program ideas and materials you can use in your library. We’ll also suggest possible presenters and others in your community who can help you spread the word about your programs. See our community partnership guidebook for more information about building relationships in your community.

These ideas are merely intended to get you started. You know what works in your library and in your community, and what appeals to the groups you want to reach. Take these ideas and run with them. We would also welcome your feedback, so tell us what worked for you or suggest other programs by sending us an email.

Inclusion of entities, products, or services in this list of program ideas should not be considered an endorsement by the CFPB. There may be other entities that are not listed that may also be able to serve your needs.


Reality check

This program comes recommended by the Pelham Public Library in Pelham, Alabama. It is a hands-on financial decision simulation that introduces teens to the decisions adults have to make every day. Each student is assigned a job, salary and life situation. The students then move from station to station and have to pay expenses and make purchases that are intended to mimic real life. The game introduces teens to concepts such as higher education leading to higher lifetime incomes, needs versus wants, budgeting and planning. The program is administered by a number of Cooperative Extension System offices and 4-H groups and has been adapted for various audiences, from middle school students to college students. Contact your local Cooperative Extension System office for information on providing this program in your library.

  • Presenters
    • Cooperative Extension System
    • 4-H
  • Organizations that can help spread the word
    • High Schools
    • Middle or Junior High Schools

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Scouting badge days

Host a Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts badge day that focuses on financial literacy related badges. Both scouting organizations, including Cub Scouts and Brownies, have badges that require members to learn the basics of budgeting, comparison shopping, financial planning and financial decisions. Work with local scout leaders to host a one-or two-day event where scouts can learn and meet achievement requirements. This program could also be extended to other literacy-based merit badges — such as reading, technology, entrepreneurship, or health. Participating troops may even be willing to provide refreshments or guidance for teaching materials. Contact regional scout councils for information on troops in your area.

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my Social Security sign-up

The Social Security Administration is partnering with local libraries to conduct my Social Security sign up events. my Social Security is a free online account that allows people quick and secure access to their personal Social Security information. You may also consider pairing a sign-up day with help and information on Social Security retirement benefits. Social Security retirement benefits are part of almost every American’s retirement plans. Provide information on retirement saving, or show patrons how to use the online Retirement Estimator. Contact the Social Security Regional Communications Director in your area to coordinate program details.

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Preventing elder financial exploitation

No one wants to admit to themselves that they could be potential victims of fraud. Consider framing this workshop on how to protect others you are close to, a mother or father, a friend or relative. You may also want to consider offsite workshops and provide additional resources online or at the library.

  • Presenters
    • Adult Protective Services or local elder abuse prevention coalition (contact the local Area Agency on Aging)
    • District or State Attorney’s Office
    • Local police – financial crime investigators
    • United States Postal Inspector Service
    • State or local AARP fraud prevention specialists
    • Cooperative Extension System
  • Organizations that can help spread the word
    • Area Agency on Aging
    • Retirement communities
    • Congregate senior housing and care facilities
    • Senior centers
    • Faith-based organizations
    • Local hospitals
    • Community calendars and centers
  • Online resources
  • Workshop resources
    • Money Smart for Older Adults: Prevent Financial Exploitation is an instructor-led training curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The program raises awareness among older adults and their caregivers on how to prevent elder financial exploitation and encourages advance planning and informed financial decision making. The module includes an Instructor Guide, PowerPoint and Participant Resource Guide. You can view a PDF of the Resource Guide, or order free copies.
    • Trick$ of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud. An hour-long video documentary developed by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, in partnership with AARP on preventing investment fraud. Utilizing compelling stories of victims and perpetrators, the video uncovers the persuasion tactics that con artists use to defraud their victims and the basic tools investors can use to defend against fraud. Order free copies or call (866) 973-4672. There is also an accompanying Fighting Fraud Partner Toolkit.
    • Fleeced: Speaking Out Against Senior Financial Fraud. Produced by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and WFYI Productions, this informative Emmy award winning film explains the impact of financial exploitation on older adults through a series of true stories demonstrating how older adults and their families can transform from victims to advocates, speaking out on behalf of other older adults.
    • National Council on Aging Savvy Saving Seniors, Toolkit 2: Steps to Avoiding Scams. Download or order trainer’s guide, presentation slides, participant handbooks and more.
    • Financial Self-Defense for Seniors. This guide by the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards describes the most common real-life situations in which older Americans are vulnerable to financial abuse by a financial advisor, and provides advice for seniors and their families for guarding against such abuse, including ways to report it to proper authorities. Learn more.
    • A Guide for Seniors: Protect Yourself Against Investment Fraud. This booklet by the Securities and Exchange Commission tells you how to check out an investment sales pitch for legitimacy, describes warning flags of fraud, types of fraud, and what to know about “senior” specialists and advisors. Order online.

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When the honeymoon’s over: Tips for household money management

Newly married couples often enter a marriage with different money styles. They’ve had different experiences and have different habits. Discussing and sharing money goals is important and a good way to avoid arguments later.

  • Presenters
    • Cooperative Extension System
    • Financial coaches (from local nonprofit agencies)
    • Credit counselors (nonprofit)
    • Military personal finance managers
  • Help spread the word
    • Local churches and faith centers

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Get ready for back to school: List, plan, buy

Back to school is just around the corner and every year some parents face difficult spending decisions. This workshop could help your patrons plan for the costs of sending the kids back to school and share ideas around cost savings. Discuss the expected costs of back to school, how to start setting money aside now, looking for ways to cut costs, taking advantage of tax-free shopping days, etc. If you have local nonprofits that provide donated school supplies or other assistance, this would be a good opportunity for them to explain their services to patrons.

Another tack would be using this as an opportunity to teach older children how to budget back to school spending. Let them plan for their new school clothes, notebooks and paper and compare how they do after hitting the malls.

  • Presenters
    • Cooperative Extension System
    • Local community college finance professors
    • Credit counselors (nonprofit)
  • Help spread the word
    • City tax-free days promotions (Many cities offer sales tax-free shopping days and promote these in the news and with local retailers. Partner with the government agency promoting tax free days as a way to boost participation and outreach.)
    • Shopping malls
    • Summer school
    • Other youth targeted programs
  • Workshop materials
    • Check with local school principals or administrators to see if they have shopping lists available.
    • Budgeting worksheets (provide a grid listing shopping items with a row for estimated costs, real costs and difference.

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