The FDIC’s Money Smart online course can help returning citizens learn to deal with their finances

Money Smart

If you’re coming out of prison you may suddenly face financial issues that you haven’t encountered in a long time, if ever. If you do, a financial education or a refresher course might help you, and there’s an excellent resource available.

It’s an online program called Money Smart, courtesy of the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Money Smart is set up like a board game with a series of lessons. It’s fun and educational to play.

Descriptions of a few of the lessons will help you understand the nature of the course and how valuable it is:

Bank on It, the first lesson, will teach you, among other things:

  • How to choose a bank and the right account for you.
  • How to compare the cost of accounts with check cashing services.
  • The steps you need to take to open and maintain an account.
  • The types of bank accounts.
  • How to withdraw money and write checks.

Borrowing Basics will help you:

  • Identify three types of loans.
  • Learn the costs associated with loans.
  • Realize the importance of being wary of rent-to-own services, payday loans and refund anticipation loans.
  • Learn how to guard against predatory lending services.

Money Matters will teach you how to:

  • List steps for setting financial goals.
  • Track daily spending.
  • Create a spending plan to identify ways to decrease your spending and increase your income.

Charge it right teaches the ins and outs of credit cards. You will learn how to:

  • Understand their purpose.
  • Tell the difference between credit cards, charge cards, debit cards and stored value cards.
  • Determine which credit card offers are the best deals.
  • Understand a credit card statement.
  • Use a credit card responsibly.
  • Deal with a lost or stolen credit card.

These are the most important lessons for someone who needs a basic financial education. Other lessons deal with insurance, with buying a home and with financial recovery if you encounter difficulties.

We’ve seen few better resources on the web for learning financial literacy, and Money Smart is free as well. More than 3 million people have taken the course and you can too.

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