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Dakota County library program teaches smart money management

Money is something that we all think about. Whether we have just a little of it and are worried about paying the bills or have a lot of it and want to know where to put it, nearly everyone has concerns dealing with their income.

The Dakota County Library system has long tried to offer financial literacy programs. This past year though, a grant made it possible to do a much larger initiative at the library branches across the county. Dakota County received $69,000 through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation. With the grant, the Dakota County Library system has offered the Know Your Money program.

The grant has allowed the Dakota County Library to offer a wide variety of financial literacy programming for people at any age to learn smart money management for free. Library communications specialist Russ Cogar said Dakota County was one of 16 organizations around the country to receive grant money.

The county received the grant in April 2012 and started by providing a number of programs aimed at kids in June. Later in the year they focused on teens.

Since November, programs have been aimed at educating adults about different money matters. Topics have included building wealth, investing tips, budgeting tips, college resources and retirement advice.

"There's been a little bit for everyone," said Cogar.

Additionally, the grant made it possible for the library system to purchase resource materials with a financial literacy emphasis for their collections.

One requirement of the grant was to find speakers who weren't biased and pushing products at attendees. Cogar said FIRA vetted all the speakers to make sure each met the requirements.

Coming up in February at the Robert Trail Library, a member of the Dakota County Attorney's office will speak from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Feb. 11 in the meeting room. The program will focus on how to protect your identity and money. Cogar said attendees will learn how to avoid scams and how to protect information.

The library will continue the Know Your Money initiative through April. The feature event will be the Know Your Money Resource Fair. Gail Marks Jarvis, an award-winning personal finance columnist for the Chicago Tribune, will be the keynote speaker. The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include workshops, community resource booths and information on financial support.

Overall, Cogar said, the focus on money has been well received by the public. At each of the events attendees have been asked to fill out a survey and the feedback from those has been generally positive.

Cogar is a big advocate of educating people about money issues and he's enjoyed being part of the initiative.

While the programming through the grant will end in April, Cogar said the Know Your Money series was so well received the library will continue to offer money programming going forward.

"It's something you'll see the Dakota County Library keep going with," said Cogar.

To learn more about the Know Your Money program and to see what events are coming up visit the Dakota County Library website at and click on the Library link.