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Recent research findings describe a challenging financial situation for many
individuals and families in the present, but of greater significance, a more
dire projection of the situation in the future. During one of the richest times
in United States history, the economic divide has widened for families. The
rich have gotten richer. The poor have gotten poorer. Consumer credit indebtedness
is rampant and the number of personal bankruptcies continues to rise. The personal
savings rate is lower than in any other industrialized nation. Few have adequately
prepared to achieve financial goals to fund higher education, retirement, and
long-term health care.
Today, the complexity of the financial products and services industry, along with the rapid changes in technology, information availability, and public policy, demands a financially literate consumer. Family financial security contributes to emotional stability in families, strengthened communities, and a nation better able to leave a thriving economic legacy for future generations. A new five-year National Initiative entitled Financial Security in Later Life addresses this broad societal issue.
The National Extension Money Management Education Framework clearly and succinctly articulates the core and common ground of Extension’s work in this area. It is designed to be equally illustrative for Extension educators, university administrators, public and private collaborators, decision-makers, researchers, mass media representatives, and community partners. The framework can be a foundation for program development, a marketing tool, and a guidepost for tracking program impacts. Most importantly, the framework summarizes what Extension can and does deliver.
Certainly, Extension money management educators do not do this work alone. Community economic development creates jobs so individuals have money to manage. Money decisions for families have psychological and sociological impacts as well as economic ones. The educational agenda informs research, and vice versa. Extension works with private, public, and nonprofit groups to be effective money management educators. Join Extension in working toward a financially literate nation.
Financial security is the ability to meet future needs while keeping pace with day-to-day obligations. Preparing for retirement and potential long-term care costs takes planning, saving, and debt control. This cooperative extension initiative seeks to help people improve personal finance behaviors leading to financial security in later life, enhance the capacity of local educators and their partners to deliver effective programs, and increase economic vitality and quality of life for families and communities. This educational initiative offers a toolkit of web-based and face-to-face programs designed to encourage participants to:
The FSLL initiative has also had a direct economic impact on those who have completed initiative programs. A group of 7,574 individuals who completed Initiative-related programs reported a total of $6,307,708 of annual financial impact (such as dollars saved, debt reduced, new dollars invested). This is an average of over $833 per person per year.
Cooperative Extension is a partner in many “America Saves” campaigns across the country. The Consumer Federation of America conducted a survey in the summer of 2003 of 198 American Savers in 5 locations. When asked about increases in interest, knowledge, and confidence in wealth building, 80.3% indicated increased interest, 78.8% increased knowledge, and 75.5% reported increased confidence.
“Cooperative extension leaders are organizing the most
rapidly growing segment of ‘America Saves.’
I am extremely optimistic the programs led by cooperative extension will achieve great success.”
- Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of America
Some typical comments from program participants on post-program evaluations included:
- Missouri participant
- Hawaii participant
- California teacher
- Ohio participant
- Kansas participant.
You can view the Financial Security in Later Life initiative online.
The South Carolina Association of Family & Consumer Sciences is a state affiliate of the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS). The AAFCS is recognized as “the comprehensive and integrative source of knowledge and the primary voice focusing on family, individual and community well-being.”
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