Financial education at any age, nationality or religious denomination is Ingrid Adade’s specialty, whether she’s making an appearance to kindergartners as “Grandma Moneybags,” a character she created, or making presentations at senior centers.
“Misunderstanding is usually caused by the lack of knowledge, and knowledge is power,” Adade said. “It actually enhances the community knowing that [callers] have a choice.”
Adade holds a well-earned designation of certified financial educator. Her program venues include the African Community Education Center, Girls Inc., the Boys and Girls Clubs, and several local senior centers. She also works collaboratively with several local credit unions to present the CU 4 Reality Program and has engaged several high schools to participate. She’s also LCU’s primary representative for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an IRS-sponsored program that assists low income individuals with their annual tax preparation. Not only does it give them a choice, but it helps the local community by keeping their dollars here at home.
Teaming up with coworkers, Adade recently developed a college-level financial education seminar, Finding Easy Street, which has been well received by area colleges. It focuses on financial wellbeing, career development and networking skills.
Adade started her career in an 800 call center as a customer service representative where, she said, she learned to listen and to be patient. Being knowledgeable enough to help callers was of primary importance, she said. “When you’re dealing with someone’s money, it’s close to heart, and it’s their life.”
The Grandma Moneybags character is a financially knowledgeable elderly woman, whose costume includes a straw hat, vest and shoes embellished with coins and dollar bills. Kindergarteners and elementary school children are entranced. They open up to her about their piggy banks and savings, their sharing and spending. “They always go to the local branches looking for Grandma Moneybags,” Adade said. “So now I tell them I live in Moneyland, and I only come in at certain times.”
Grandma Moneybags’ prime season is April, designated as financial literacy month. For first-graders, there’s talk about economics, particularly about the difference between needs and wants (a lesson that many older kids can also use). “Grandma really has a lot of interesting information that maybe mom and dad don’t have really have the time to do,” Adade said.
“If we could clone Ingrid, we would,” said Adade’s nominator, Carol Southworth, senior vice president of retail at Leominster Credit Union. Credit union members often come in specifically asking for her advice. LCU has created a series of six videos, currently in production, which is probably the closest to cloning currently available.
“Ingrid’s passion for teaching has helped others to become financially responsible,” said Southworth. “She displays an enthusiasm and energy that motivates her participants to want to learn and develop skills to assist them in managing their finances. … Her passion for the message never wavers.”