finances

4-H Program Teaches Finances to Military Youth

Reading Makes Sense Youth on the USS Constitution in Boston
Photo: Pamela Gray

A group of military affiliated youth recently wrapped up a six-week session of lessons about saving, spending, earning, and the value of a dollar, and their time. Following the Reading Makes Cents 4-H Afterschool Curriculum Guide, participants were able to inspect the hidden secrets of a dollar, learn about saving and spending, needs and wants, and budgeting and sharing (donating to those in need).

Each meeting was started with reading aloud a picture centered on the lessons for the day. The kids had a great time examining needs and wants through a fun experiential game where they decide what is actually necessary to spend money on. They ‘earned’ a week of minimum wage, and then were able to ‘shop’ some catalogs with prices listed – their money was more carefully spent when they considered the time it had taken them to earn it! They brainstormed options available for them to earn money (yard sale of their old toys, lemonade stands, chores for people), as well as ways they can give back to the community with their time instead of giving money.

The stories The Hard Times Jar and If You Made a Million were the clear favorites. A visit from a Navy Federal Credit Union representative helped them explore credit and investments through age-appropriate games and rounded out the experience by providing families with information on the options available through the bank for military affiliated youth. To round out the experience with some real living history, the participants visited Boston, visiting the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy) and the Paul Revere house, ‘paying’ for their trip with tokens earned at the classes for attendance and good behavior. Overall, the experience will hopefully produce some great financially wise futures!

Article and photo: Pamela Gray

Saving for the Unexpected

In Celebration of America Saves Week and Connecticut Saves Week February 25th through March 2nd, 2019

shutterstock money treeHave you ever been taken by surprise by an expense such as a car or home repair, a refrigerator that needs to be replaced immediately, or school expenses? Often we need to act quickly so that we can get to work, keep a small problem from getting bigger, or make it possible for a child to participate in school activities. Managing regular bills can be hard enough without shock of additional bills. In one of the professional development workshops I teach, I ask the participants work together in small groups to list examples of unexpected financial events in their lives and those of their clients. As you might guess, once they get started, they have no trouble creating very long lists.

Several recent studies have indicated that many of us are not prepared financially to deal with the unexpected events in our lives. The Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Bing of U.S. Households in 2017 (https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2017-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201805.pdf) pointed out the 40% of households could not cover an unexpected $400 expense. DataHaven’s 2018 Community Wellbeing Survey (www.ctdatahaven.org/reports/datahaven-community-wellbeing-survey) found that 50% of Connecticut adults estimated that their savings would last less than 6 months. As challenging as it can be to deal with unanticipated bills, there are steps we can take to improve our ability to weather such events in the future.

Create an Emergency Fund

Having a cash cushion can help increase your family’s or household’s financial stability. Knowing you have money available can help reduce financial stress and give you more options for how to handle different situations.

How do I get started?

Make it your goal and develop a plan to achieve it. Even a small amount of money saved over time adds up. If you could save $10 a week for a full year, you would $520. Will you be receiving a tax refund? Plan to save at least a portion. A review of your current spending can be helpful in identifying opportunities to save money. Many of my workshop participants have suggested setting up a separate savings account specifically for this purpose. Direct deposit is an excellent way to make saving a habit.

How much money do I need in an emergency fund?

While the best answer to this question really depends on the specifics of your situation, here are a couple of suggestions. If you currently do not have money set aside for emergencies, set a goal with a dollar amount such as $500 or $1000 and timeframe by which you plan to achieve it. Identify the steps you are going to take to help you move closer to that goal. If you already have some money set aside, calculate how much money you would need to cover basic living expenses for a period of six months or possibly longer. If that amount of money seems like more than you can possibly save, do not let that be a deterrent. Break it down into a series of short-term goals. For example, focus on what you feel you can reasonably do over the next three months and keep track of your progress.

Anticipate the Unexpected—Plan!

It is human nature not to want to face certain realities. However, we could likely prepare better if we anticipated some likely events and planned how to deal with them effectively. For example, appliances have a limited life expectancy and will need repair or replacement. Tires for a car anticipated to last for an approximate amount of mileage. A home will require maintenance to its various systems. Just as a weather forecaster keeps track of different conditions to anticipate what is likely to happen with the weather, we can also do that in regard to our finances. Though we will not be 100% correct all the time, we can develop a plan to help us be better prepared.

For more information, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith, UConn Extension Personal and Family Financial Educator at faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu or visit www.financialliteracy@uconn.edu.

Connecticut Saves Week February 25 through March 2 is a great time to assess your savings and make plans to improve your financial security. Part of the national America Saves Campaign, the Connecticut Saves Coalition is coordinated by the UConn Extension Financial Education Program with the support of these partnering organizations: the Connecticut Department of Labor; the Connecticut Department of Banking; Connecticut State Library; Hartford Job Corps Academy; the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut; Human Resources Agency, Inc.; the Connecticut Association for Human Services; Chelsea Groton Bank; and others. Visit www.connecticutsaves.org.

Article by Faye Griffiths-Smith

What is a Record Book?

4-H cloverThe Connecticut 4-H Record Keeping system was developed as an outcome of a survey taken among leaders, parents, 4-Hers and alumni. The record keeping system mimics the real world, and uses industry standards as a guide for deciding on the information needed for record keeping.

4-H members are encouraged to keep records as part of their leadership experience. The 4-H records present a picture of growth and development as a 4-H member.  A complete 4-H record book includes a:

  • 4-H Activity Record for each year of experience
  • 4-H Project Record sheet for each individual project taken during that year
  • Financial Summary of the project; and
  • Appropriate 4-H project supplemental sheets for each individual project taken during that year

Join Us for America Saves Week

America saves photoUConn Extension has partnered with America Saves Week again this year, and we are celebrating from February 27th through March 4th. Connecticut Saves Campaign is a statewide initiative to encourage Connecticut residents to take positive financial actions and save regularly to turn their dreams into reality. Here you will find workshops and events around the state, tools to help you set goals, develop strategies, and start saving. Join others from around our state in working toward achieving your financial goals. You can take the pledge online.

Let America Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. That’s what this pledge is all about. And it doesn’t stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with periodic information, advice, tips, and reminders sent by email or text message to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

Connecticut Saves Campaign Promoting Family Saving is Launched

America Saves logoOnly 39% of Connecticut residents reported spending less than they earned in 2012. Fifty percent did not have emergency funds and 57% haven’t set aside money for their children’s college education according to the 2012 National Financial Capability Study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. UConn Extension is launching the Connecticut Saves Campaign as a new effort to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households in Connecticut to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. Connecticut Saves is part of America Saves, a national campaign led by the Consumer Federation of America. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior.

 

Connecticut Saves Week takes place Monday, February 24 through Saturday, March 1, 2014. UConn Extension is encouraging Connecticut citizens to assess their saving and save regularly for their goals during this special week. Connecticut Saves has planned a variety of events and workshops in celebration. Governor Dannel P. Malloy has issued a proclamation in honor of Connecticut Saves Week. The Connecticut Saves Campaign is coordinated by UConn Extension with the support of these partners: Connecticut Department of Banking; Connecticut Department of Labor; Connecticut State Library; Connecticut Treasurer’s Office; FDIC; Hartford Job Corps; Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc.; Naugatuck Head Start; New Haven County Extension Resource Council, Inc.; New Haven Free Public Library; and People’s United Bank. Please see the Connecticut Saves website at: www.connecticutsaves.org. The Bank of America Foundation is supporting the Connecticut Saves Week Campaign through a mini-grant. For more information about the Connecticut Saves Campaign, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith of UConn Extension at faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu or call 203.407.3160.

Financial Literacy and the Financial Facts of Life

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Photo credit: University of Maryland Extension

It’s back to school season and across Connecticut, families are getting young people ready for school so that they can learn what they need to know to become productive, responsible and successful adults. In their late teens and twenties, young people face many important decisions – among them may be signing a lease on an apartment, applying for a credit card, taking out student loans and possibly buying cars and homes. How do we prepare students to be in the best position possible to understand both their options and responsibilities so that they can make wise decisions?

UConn Extension provides financial literacy and personal finance education workshops in partnership with schools, youth-serving agencies and organizations, businesses with young employees as well as cities and towns. Financial education programs are available for parents of children in pre-kindergarten programs, elementary school children to young adults in their early twenties.

Offered in partnership with schools, community organizations and agencies, the Welcome to the Real World, Connecticut Edition Simulation gives young people (middle school to college age/young adults) the opportunity to imagine their lives as young employed adults. They select occupations, find out their incomes and estimated taxes, and open checking and savings accounts. They then visit tables and interact with adult volunteers as they make common spending decisions. Through the learning exercise, they learn about managing money, living within their incomes, identifying spending priorities, saving and dealing with unexpected expenses.

Parents are an important key in a child’s financial education. Yet the seventh annual Financial Literacy Survey of U.S. adults, conducted in 2013 on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc., showed that 40% of adults surveyed gave themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance. UConn Extension offers a variety of financial education workshops for adults and young people. The Parents, Kids and Money Workshop provides parents with education and resources to help them teach their children about money.  Teaching the Financial Facts of Life Workshop encourages those working or volunteering in youth-serving organizations to incorporate financial literacy skills within their programming. The Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck Workshop Series focuses on helping people develop and apply financial plans to help them reach their goals.

For more information about these and other financial education workshops throughout the lifespan, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith at 203.407.3160 or faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu.

Connecticut Families and Finance

The America Saves Campaign will be launched by the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System this winter.  This is a social marketing campaign designed to encourage people to start or increase their saving.  The theme is:  “Set a goal.  Make a plan.  Save automatically.”  America Saves Week will take place February 25 through March 2, 2013; but the campaign will continue throughout the year.  Many people make a new year’s resolution to save more money. The America Saves Campaign offers many ideas on ways people can improve their financial situation.  Educational workshops, webinars, and online resources, as well as printed and other resources, are available to help savers stay motivated. Anyone interested can sign up as an individual at http://www.americasaves.org/

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The Welcome to the Real World, Connecticut Edition Simulation reached teens and young adults in several communities this past year.  This program, adapted from the University of Illinois Extension, gives young people the opportunity to imagine themselves as working adults in the occupations of their choice, making decisions about how to manage their finances.  They open checking and savings accounts, visit tables representing different expense categories staffed by volunteers, and learn to live within their incomes.  Participants also must draw a chance card which outlines an event that may add to or subtract from their income.  Some of the program participants have included: approximately 500 students at Platt and Maloney High Schools in Meriden, student interns at Pratt and Whitney and the Department of Transportation, and community agencies in New Britain, Bridgeport, and New Haven.

The Credit Jeopardy workshop was a part of Junior Achievement’s Financial Literacy Day at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).  Faye Griffiths-Smith served as lead judge for the Connecticut LifeSmarts State Competition.  LifeSmarts teaches teens to be smart and responsible consumers and citizens by focusing on five key areas of consumer knowledge that teens need to know to function effectively in today’s marketplace: Personal Finance, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Safety, Technology and the Environment.  This quiz bowl competition was also conducted at CCSU.  Ms. Griffiths-Smith presented a talk on “Financial Literacy for Social Workers” at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU).  She also serves on the executive board of Connecticut JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy and chairs the Family Economics and Resource Management Community of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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For more information about any of these programs, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith at faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu or 203.407.3160.  You can also follow us on Twitter @CT Families&Finances.