Although the stock market, unemployment rate and other economic indicators point to recovery from the Great Recession in 2008-09, many families are still struggling. In fact, according to a recent survey from the Federal Reserve, an unexpected expense of just $400 would put the majority of American households at financial risk.
That’s one reason why Ohio State University Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences program focuses attention on Healthy Finances.
“Finances impact so many areas of our lives,” said Betsy DeMatteo, OSU Extension educator, accredited financial counselor and co-leader of OSU Extension’s Healthy Finances team. “They can affect our productivity at work, our relationships with other family members — they really permeate the rest of our lives. It’s one area we can’t ignore.”
But financial matters can become very complex very quickly, and many people feel overwhelmed when faced with financial decision-making, she said.
“But sometimes, just taking a few simple steps can make a world of difference. The issue is often just how to get started. That’s where we can help.”
As OSU Extension celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, its Family and Consumer Sciences’ Healthy Finances programs are looking forward, DeMatteo said.
We’re focused on giving Ohioans the knowledge, skills and tools to create their own financial future.
Such programs include:
- Money Management Workshops: These workshops are designed to help individuals and families increase financial stability by learning how to use a spending plan to save money and reduce debt. Topics include goal-setting, credit report management and financial record organization.
- Homeownership Education: Understanding financing, affordability, and consumer rights and responsibilities as a long-term borrower is key when purchasing a home. OSU Extension offers a homeownership education program that helps potential buyers understand the benefits and potential pitfalls in the home-buying process. Participation results in a certificate of completion that many lending institutions honor for down-payment assistance and for first-time buyer programs.
- Master Money Mentor: This financial literacy program, led by volunteers trained by OSU Extension, helps participants understand the ins and outs of keeping financial records, planning a budget, controlling spending, paying bills, saving for financial goals, reducing debt, working with creditors, and improving their credit history.
- Real Money, Real World: To increase teenagers’ awareness of financial realities they’ll face as adults, OSU Extension provides four classroom lessons followed by a real-life spending simulation and a follow-up discussion about what they learned and how it could apply in their lives. For more information about this program, see realmoneyrealworld.osu.edu.
- Ohio Saves: Ohioans who make their own personal pledge to save have access to online resources and ongoing encouragement and motivation to help them reach their goal. The program is part of America Saves, a campaign sponsored by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America. Learn more or sign up at ohiosaves.org
OSU Extension also offers other programs and information on Healthy Finances. For details, see fcs.osu.edu/financial-education.