Wisconsin's Department of Financial Institutions has created a program to teach consumers how to better manage their finances.
"Your Money Matters" gives people information on financial topics from balancing a budget to buying a mutual fund or detecting a fraudulent investment scheme. The department will also send speakers to senior citizen groups, high schools, Rotary clubs, and other groups, and it will offer financial planning help to small-business owners and entrepreneurs.
"We see our role as twofold," said Richard L. Dean, department secretary. "Certainly we are regulators of Wisconsin's financial industry. But we also have a responsibility to the consumers of those services to provide them with the tools to protect themselves and to make informed decisions."
The program was begun after a department survey found that consumers on average spend only one hour a month planning their finances. The survey, done by telephone in April, also found that fewer than 4% of Wisconsin residents share financial planning responsibility with another household member.
"Your Money Matters" brochures and kits can be obtained free through the department or on its Web site.
It's no secret that small banks have struggled lately to attract and keep deposits. With certificate of deposit rates hovering around 5%, many consumers feel they can do better investing in stocks and mutual funds.
But one Wisconsin community bank seems to have solved its liquidity woes-at least temporarily-through a promotion tied to its 135th anniversary.
On June 1, First National Bank of Hudson began offering a 135-day CD with an interest rate of 6.135%. By Aug. 1, the CDs had taken in more than $7 million, forcing the $150 million-asset bank to stop advertising the promotion a month early.
"We went from a position where we were buying deposits in April to the position where we were selling them in August," said president and chief executive officer Ron A. Heiser. "We got more money than we knew what to do with." - Compiled by Alan Kline