Financial Education Program Helps Participants Improve Their Lives
Managing family and personal finances well is a common challenge. Findings from recent studies show cause for concern regarding Americans’ financial practices. According to the 2018 FINRA Financial Capability Study, nationally:
- 46% of individuals lack a rainy-day fund,
- 34% of individuals can answer four or five questions on a basic five-question financial literacy quiz correctly,
- 35% of individuals with credit cards paid only the minimum on their credit cards during some months in the last year, and
- 19% of individuals reported that over the past year, their household spent more than their income.
UConn Extension’s financial education program provides workshops, professional development sessions, events, and resources to help Connecticut citizens improve their lives. Participants receive relevant, research-based information and tools to encourage them to adopt sound financial management practices.
“Shortly after I was hired, I conducted a needs assessment. Money management was the topic respondents indicated as most important to address,” says Faye Griffiths-Smith, UConn Extension’s family economics and resource management educator. “Today, there is increased recognition that financial capability has a strong impact on one’s ability to achieve economic stability and move toward financial security.”
The Extension Financial Education Program reaches adults and young people. One focus area is reaching people living on limited incomes, those making life transitions such as entering or returning to the workforce, or others experiencing financial challenges. Recent participants included veterans, senior center residents, adult education students, teens, summer youth employment students, and college students. “Reaching teens, college students, and other young adults at a point when they are likely to start facing important financial decisions is exciting because the information is highly relevant for them and many recognize it is important,” Faye says. “Engaging learning activities are a great way for them to experience their future financial lives.”
“As the incoming President of the Connecticut Jump$tart Coalition (www.jumpstart.org/connecticut) promoting financial literacy for youth, I look forward to working with teachers, other professionals, and volunteers from many organizations across the state on ways to increase the financial knowledge of our young people,” Faye says.
Strength in Numbers
The UConn Extension Financial Education Program collaborates with agencies and organizations to enhance the financial capability and economic security of Connecticut citizens. Collaborations are key to reaching diverse audiences that might otherwise be unaware of available resources. Complex financial products and services make it harder for people to be aware of all their options. Training agency and organization professionals is another way to expand the impact of Extension’s financial education and information. These staff reach their clients or students with information as financial topics and concerns arise.
Faye has provided financial empowerment training for hundreds of social service agency staff through Your Money, Your Goals, a program developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“Through collaboration with United Way of Greater Waterbury, I’ve also had the opportunity to provide financial coaching training and technical assistance for volunteers who work with agency client requesting this assistance,” Faye shares. Being a financial educator involves more than performing financial calculations and staying current on the myriad of products and services available as well as the impact of legislative changes on our finances. It gets to the heart of what people believe is important about how they live. It involves listening, learning about their situations, and guiding them in identifying their options while addressing financial decisions they face.
Article by Stacey Stearns