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Financial help free at Mercer on Saturday

Free financial advice is coming to Mercer University on Saturday -- open to anyone, but aimed at low- to middle-income families.

The first year of the Family Financial Wellness Fair served 75 families, and in this second year organizers hope to draw 200, said Kyle Sears, Mercer’s director of media relations.

“I’ve been getting a bunch of calls. We expect a lot more people to be there this year,” said Anitha Manohar, assistant professor of finance at Mercer’s Stetson School of Business and Economics. She’s one of the event’s main organizers.

It’s sponsored by the business school and GreenPath Debt Solutions, and will be held at the school’s University Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be seminars on various financial topics, advice from financial planners, children’s activities and door prizes.

GreenPath counselors will pull up individuals’ credit reports, said Heather Whitmore, an education specialist for GreenPath.

“The first 100 will be free,” she said. Certified credit counselors will be on hand to answer questions, and Whitmore herself will give a 30-minute seminar on understanding credit reports, what gets reported and how that affects credit scores.

The event is meant to reach people who may not know what local help is available or have few other chances to get help.

“This year we’ll also be having a presentation on the Affordable Care Act and also another presentation on student loans,” Manohar said.

More than two dozen students from Mercer’s chapter of the Financial Management Association will work with business faculty to give advice and assistance on debt relief, budgeting and banking.

Manohar said several vendors will have tables to show what financial resources are available locally: banks, credit unions and community organizations.

While adults are at financial seminars, Mercer student volunteers will keep children occupied with games and activities such as painting piggy banks, she said.

About 10 door prizes will be given away. Manohar wouldn’t say what they were, but two to be given at the end of the day are big, she said.

“We encourage people to stay to the end of the event,” Manohar said.

The easiest way to get there is from Mercer University Drive, turning onto campus on Stadium Drive, Sears said. Follow Stadium Drive around to University Center Drive past the baseball field. It leads to three parking lots next to the University Center.

Signs for the event will be up on those streets, and plenty of parking is available, Manohar said.

For more information, contact Manohar at 301-5595 or manohar_ca@mercer.edu.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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