New library program teaches financial literacy

Aug. 23 session focuses on loans and credit

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published August 22, 2023


MADISON HEIGHTS — A biweekly program has begun at the Madison Heights Public Library, offering expert advice about managing one’s wealth.

Toya Aaron, a member of the Madison Heights City Council and its representative on the library board, said the board was brainstorming ideas for programs that would improve the quality of life for residents.

The Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union shared an outline with her for a series of 14 different classes about financial literacy. Aaron, in turn, brought it back to the board.

“Everyone was really excited about it,” Aaron said. “These are courses that really benefit us all. So we sat down and chose four of them to start, and that won’t be the end of it. We want to pick it up again next year, doing four at a time until we get them all done.”

The biweekly programs take place at the library, 240 W. 13 Mile Road, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend. The next one is Wednesday, Aug. 23. It will teach the basics of loans and credit, including billing cycles, payment due dates, credit card statements, and the importance of paying in full and on time.

On Sept. 6, the focus will shift to navigating the heated housing market, including budgeting and prequalifying for loans, as well as home inspections and other tips for maximizing value.

And on Sept. 20, attendees will learn about how small changes to saving and spending can benefit the community when those savings are reinvested in neighborhoods and local businesses.

Ann Jones, vice president of marketing and business development at MSGCU, said her group offers workshops for free at branch offices, as well as at libraries, in schools and at local businesses. Many workshops are available virtually as well, with 24/7 online learning at

“There’s nothing we love more than helping someone achieve their version of financial success,” Jones said via email. “It’s very rewarding to be a part of the teams who help educate our community and students in local schools.”

At press time, the first session was set for Aug. 16, covering the concept of raising a financially literate family — from allowance guidelines and first credit cards, to teaching kids how to make smart money choices in life. Aaron said she finds the concept very appealing as a mother raising a son.

“Finances are not taught in school. When I went to college and they told me that I can get a credit card, I had no idea what I was doing. So knowing how to manage that, and putting aside money and not spending every dollar, it helps not only the parents but the children also,” Aaron said.

“Like I have a son who gets an allowance, and he spends it and he’s broke again — he’s an Amazon junkie! So you want families to really understand how to budget and balance,” she said. “That way, when they’re adults, they’re not trying to clean up their credit, because they already have good credit.”

Jones said that education has long been a component of the MSGCU, which seems fitting since teachers founded the bank nearly 70 years ago.

“Most people would greatly benefit from learning more about money management, and want to receive financial education, but they don’t always know how to ask, or who they can turn to,” she said.

Jones said that three in four Americans go to work feeling stressed due to money matters, which impacts their overall job performance and mental health. She said that the MSGCU wants to help them. So far this year, more than 700 people have attended the in-person workshops, and nearly 5,000 users have taken the online courses.

“These numbers will increase in the fall, when we get back into the classrooms to talk with young adults about how to handle cash and credit,” Jones said.

She explained that the workshops are structured around concrete steps one can take to begin improving their financial situation. The goal is to make things understandable and approachable.

Aaron said she hopes residents turn out for the workshops.

“They will learn so much,” she said. “These are important concepts they will be able to apply to their everyday lives.”

For more information, call the Madison Heights Public Library at (248) 588-7763.