Financial fitness classes

Learn to keep you mind on your money at these classes.
Photograph by Ryan Robinson
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Fix your finances
Your cash flow went from solid to severance to sayonara in a matter of weeks. If your first thought was that you’d just start putting those lattes on your credit card, then you need money-management skills almost as much as you need a new job. These finance-savvy classes will keep you in the black.

Hustle ’n’ cash flow
Surviving unemployment requires a careful eye on your personal budget—which is tricky if you don’t have any idea where your money goes (or should be going). Give yourself a financial checkup at a Discovery Center class such as Financial Fitness, which teaches investment basics and provides tips on getting out of debt. 2940 N Lincoln Ave, 773-348-8120, discoverycenter.cc, $65 includes tuition and materials fee.

Dollars and sense
Considering the mess the city’s finances are in right now, you might not seek advice from the City of Chicago Treasurer. But the Treasurer-sponsored six-week courses in Wealth Fitness for Adults offers free, solid advice. You start with the basics: savings accounts, insurance, debt. The second six-week phase gets into investing, trusts, even small-business ownership. Harold Washington College, 30 East Lake Street, 312-553-5940, hwashington.ccc.edu, free.

Take care of business
If you’re thinking that the way out of unemployment might be to start a business (or turn your favorite hobby into the real deal), the City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection holds free workshops that aim to help. They give advice on topics like building a website and finding financing for a new venture. City Hall, 121 N LaSalle St, room 805, 312-744-5344, cityofchicago.org/bacp), free.

Foreclosure prevention
If you’re behind on your mortgage or are about to be, hit one of the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago foreclosure-prevention workshops. Professional counselors at these free workshops, which take place several times a week, tell you how to avoid foreclosure and hip you to common real-estate scams. 1279 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-329-4010, nhschicago.org, free.

Get smart
While you’re waiting with bated breath for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Money Smart Week classes to come back around (April 10–17, 2010), get thee to chipublib.org. Click on “events and programs,” and choose “Money Smart” under the program-name drop-down menu. You’ll see a buffet of free finance classes (about everything from loan refinancing to paying down your debt) happening at libraries all around town.

“Look at the details of your spending so that you can adjust your habits to match your newly reduced cash flow. This includes going through all monthly expenses and asking how you could reduce or eliminate each item. For example, I save $40 a month by reducing the speed of my Internet connection.”—Jessica Lybeck, cofounder of job-networking and advice site layoffmoveon.com

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