Program ideas

Use the program ideas and materials here to serve the patrons who use your library.

For more information about building relationships in your community, view our community partnership guidebook for libraries .

For money management and protection

Purchasing a vehicle is a big decision, and one that comes with many choices. Many consumers choose to focus most of their energy on deciding which vehicle to buy, what features to include, and how much to pay; however, shopping for an auto loan is just as important. This program can help consumers take control of their auto loans by teaching them about planning for an auto loan, exploring loan choices, negotiating loan terms, and understanding how to close loan deals.

It is important that consumers who intend to purchase automobiles have accurate and reliable information about the true costs of auto loans, where they can look for financing, and their rights as borrowers. The CFPB auto loan shopping sheet  can also be used as a tool for consumers to compare loans. Through this education, consumers can be given the tools to negotiate loans that serve their best interests and set them up for a successful future in auto ownership.

Presenters

The Community Partnership Guidebook for Libraries  was developed with the help of librarians to help identify and build partnerships in every community. It includes a list of national organizations with local affiliates, as well as suggestions of city, county or state government agencies that might be available to present programs at your library.

Online resources

Show patrons how to identify the best and most trustworthy information for their money decisions.

Having timely, unbiased, and reliable information can help level the playing field when choosing a loan, picking an investment, or making other money choices. But, with so much information available, it’s harder and harder for savers and shoppers to cut through the clutter and understand their options.

What should they look for? How can your library help?

This program could be a single discussion, or a series of workshops with hands-on demonstrations that introduce patrons to available databases, websites, and print resources. Speakers could also shine a spotlight on pitches, ploys and scams to avoid. Some good places to start are listed below.

Workshops could use video advertisements or direct mail offers as a starting point to comparison shop or validate statements. Use online mortgage offers to compare rates and terms with local lenders. Show patrons how to verify email solicitations to avoid phishing scams or other forms of identity theft. When dealing with investments, demonstrate how to check if a seller or an investment is properly registered, as well as find the latest prices and returns.

Try creating different scenarios and ask patrons to search for the best answers, and discuss their results.

These are good opportunities to also discuss what questions customers should ask salespeople or financial professionals, and how to independently verify what they hear.

Presenters

Online resources

Print materials

Who can help spread the word?

  • Legal aid offices
  • Local consumer affairs reporters
  • Chambers of commerce

Engage with local nonprofit credit counselors, cooperative extension instructors or other experts in your community to lead one or a series of programs to help people understand options and strategies for paying off their debt. There are a number of resources dedicated to budgeting, credit management and debt repayment, including the webinars and materials listed below.

A program should include a discussion of where patrons are now in their financial lives with exercises and worksheets to help them take a financial inventory. Then, turn to a discussion of budgeting and tracking spending as a way to examine present habits and identify priorities. Finally, turn to repaying the debts themselves. Discuss options, and let patrons make their own choices. One option is to tackle the debt with the highest interest rate first. A second is to tackle the debt with the lowest balance first. You can learn more about both options in this webinar .

Presenters

Online resources

Free print resources

Buying a home can be a long and difficult process for first-time buyers. And families ready to buy their next home may have several questions too. This program can help buyers and shoppers prepare for the process by introducing them to the financial issues they’ll need to consider and all the tools and information available to them. First-time buyers would need information on when and how to shop for a mortgage that meets their needs, the home-buying process, the closing, and true costs of homeownership. All buyers need to make sure their credit records are accurate and error-free, and that they understand how much house they can afford. For sellers, additional questions are: Buy first or sell first? How much is my house really worth?

Presenters

  • Consider a panel of local real estate agents to discuss market conditions
  • Housing counselors approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can discuss financing and budgeting

Online resources

Lead an interactive workshop that walks patrons through how to protect their personal information, the protections they have when they use their credit and debit cards, steps to take if they suspect their information was hacked, warning signs of identity theft, and how to recover from identity theft. In today’s high-tech world, information can be more valuable than cash. So how can you protect your information online or at the cash register? What protections do you have? How can you spot ID theft quickly when it happens? And, how do you fix it? You can narrow in on a few of these topics, or conduct a series of workshops that dive a little deeper into each issue.

Presenters

  • Local law enforcement antifraud units.
  • Cooperative Extension System
  • Community college or local university computer science experts can discuss password and home network security.

Online resources

The Georgetown County Library used partners to provide locations, audiences and instructors for a series of offsite financial education workshops in its community. The topics ranged from holiday cheer on a budget, to credit and debt management, to knowing your legal rights. According to their public service librarian, the library contacted nonprofit agencies in its community offering to hold the workshops for their clients. The library offered to provide the presenter, some giveaways, sign-ins and surveys. The agencies provided the space and encouraged their clients to attend. For speakers, the library turned to its network of local financial education organizations, including SCORE, the local Small Business Development Center, South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and the state Cooperative Extension System. Once the audiences, locations and speakers were lined up, the library facilitated each event. “The offsite programming worked great and had some unforeseen benefits,” the public service librarian said. “The partners now list other library programming in their social media and onsite bulletin boards, and they have been asking the library to attend other events (larger festivals and educational days) to tout library offerings.”

Online resources

  • Community Partnership Guidebook for Libraries (PDF) . The guidebook was developed with the help of librarians to help identify and build partnerships in every community. It includes a list of national organizations with local affiliates, as well as suggestions of city, county or state government agencies that might be willing to present programs.

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

Online resources

For retirement planning and beyond

Introduce patrons to the new retirement savings account from U.S. Department of Treasury, myRA.

myRA makes saving easy. Opening an account is free, and there are no fees or complicated investment options. Plus, eligible tax filers can take advantage of the Saver’s Tax Credit, which can help lower tax bills.

myRA was developed for people who don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work or lack other options to save. This may include small business employees, part-time and temporary workers, and the self-employed. The rules are similar to Roth IRA rules. myRA is a simple, safe, and affordable way to start saving for retirement.

Consider adding a short introduction to myRAs to existing library programs, like investment club meetings, entrepreneur classes, job skills or resume building courses, English as a second language classes or others.

Invite a local CPA or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) representative in your community to do a presentation. Team up with your community’s chamber of commerce and local employers to speak to employees, and let them know more information is available at your library.

Free resources are available from myRA.gov/partners .

Presenters

Online resources

Who can help spread the word?

  • Local employers
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Local service organizations

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.

Presenters

  • Regional or local Social Security employees

Organizations that can help spread the word

  • Local financial planners
  • Local employers

Online resources

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 by calling (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 .

For families

Reading books with children is a creative way to learn about the many sides of money management.

The Money as You Grow book club is an educational program that uses children’s books and money-related topics to help families talk and discover new skills. The program introduces concepts like goal setting, decision making, planning, and saving, and encourages families to discuss the concepts together. Parent discussion guides include things to talk about and activities that help families practice what they have learned.

Presenters

  • Children and adult services librarians
  • Anyone who wants to help parents and young children build positive money attitudes and habits

Workshop materials

When it comes to thinking and learning about money, parents are typically the No. 1 influence in their children’s lives. Children pick up on both words and actions as examples they themselves adopt. So if parents want to teach their children good money habits, they need to learn how to model those examples too. This workshop or series of workshops could train parents how to be better money teachers by using everyday examples and teachable moments. Kids could also learn about making plans, researching money decisions, saving for a goal and prioritize spending.

Start with a family dinner in a large common room. Then, break the children up by ages and send the parents off to a separate meeting room. Align lessons so they complement each other. For example, if you want to discuss setting goals and saving, talk to parents about retirement or college needs, and talk to kids about financial goal setting in a context that is more relevant to them. You may even want to include a related craft for the kids or point them to books with similar themes. Topics could include, setting money goals, preparing for emergencies, planning and tracking spending, or debt and credit.

After an hour or so, bring the kids and parents back together and give them some time to share what they learned and what steps they will take once they get home.

Presenters

Online resources

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

Online resources

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).

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.

Presenters

  • Scout leaders and volunteers
  • Cooperative extension service
  • Nonprofit credit counseling agencies

Organizations that can help spread the word

  • Regional scouting districts
  • Local troops
  • Boy Scout Sponsoring Organizations, such as local faith-based and civic organizations.

Online resources

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