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Family Economics News - December / January 2009

The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) works with land-grant university partners and others to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities through national program leadership and Federal assistance. Among the Agency’s goals is to support increased economic opportunities and quality of life in rural areas. Family economics aligns with this goal by focusing on how individuals and families obtain and use resources such as money, time, human capital, material resources, and community services; by exploring the relationship between individuals and families and the larger economy; and by studying the impact of public issues, policies, and programs on family economic well-being.

Research/Program Evaluation

  • National Research Symposium
  • Understanding Emergency Savings Needs
  • Financial Crisis Survey

Education/Extension

  • eXtension Earns Secretary's Honor Award
  • New on eXtension: Spanish Version of Planning for a Secure Retirement
  • Personal Finance, Agricultural Economics Partnership

Resources

  • NEFE® Launches Spendster.org
  • New Financial Education Site for Kids
  • Understanding the Current Financial Crisis
  • Financial Literacy Update

Opportunities

  • Call for Papers:
    • Journal of Consumer Affairs
    • Journal of Personal Finance
    • Financial Counseling and Planning
    • The Journal of Youth Development
    • Journal of Family and Economic Issues
    • Asian Consumer and Family Economics Association
    • Journal of Consumer Education
    • Eastern Family Economics and Resource Management

  • Funding:
    • Grants.gov
    • National Endowment for Financial Education® 
    • MMI Financial Education Foundation
    •  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Foundation for Financial Literacy
    • FINRA Investor Education Foundation

Calendar

Mailbox

Nearly 30 academics from the Land-Grant University System and other private and public institutions framed a research agenda for financial literacy and education at a 2-day, invitation-only work session in Washington, DC, October 6-7, 2008. The U.S. Departments of Treasury and Agriculture convened the symposium. Experts in behavioral and consumer economics, financial risk assessment, and financial literacy program evaluation shared central research findings, identified gaps in the literature, and prioritized relevant research needed to inform policy, education, and practice leading to more financially secure Americans. The findings of the symposium will be posted on December 8 at www.treasury.gov/ofe (click on the Financial Literacy and Education Commission link).

The Consumer Federation of America has produced a report called “Understanding the Emergency Savings Needs of Low- and Moderate-Income Households: A Survey-Based Analysis of Impacts, Causes, and Remedies.”  The report states that most low- and moderate-income households have significant unmet emergency savings needs. Research shows these households lack adequate financial resources to pay for unexpected expenditures, such as car repairs or emergency dental treatment.  Low-income households report that they need around $1,500 in emergency savings. However, less than one-third of these households have a savings account, less than 30 percent say they have emergency savings of at least $500, and the median account balance of those with a checking and/or savings account is only $600.  Moderate-income households say $3,000.00 is needed in emergency savings, but less than half have a savings account, less than half say they have emergency savings of at least $500, and the median account balance of those with a checking and/or savings account is only $1,500.  Other questions the research report addresses include: Do low emergency savings levels appear to contribute to undesirable financial behaviors, such as bouncing checks and taking out payday loans?; do they produce worry and other, more serious psychological distress?; and how can we most effectively assist low- and moderate-income households with inadequate emergency savings to increase these savings?  The Opinion Research Corporation collected data in surveys for the Consumer Federation of America.

The survey “Plan Sponsors and Participants: Partners in Times of Crisis,” conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), found that the current financial crisis is having a substantial impact on retirement planning. Survey respondents not only reported a jump in the number of plan participants considering delaying retirement, but a quarter of respondents cite an increase in the actual number of eligible workers postponing retirement. In addition to delaying retirement, nearly 30 percent of respondents report that defined contribution plan participants have decreased their overall retirement plan contributions and that 34 percent believe plan participants have reduced their exposure to equities in favor of less risky investment alternatives. The survey was conducted the week of October 20, 2008, and includes responses from 1,089 plan sponsors, which represents a cross section of three employee benefit sectors: Corporate Plans, Public and Governmental Plans, and Multiemployer Plans. Because the survey examined each of these sectors, the results show the unique concerns and actions of the different plan sponsors. Visit IFEBP to view the report’s executive summary.

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The Secretary's Annual Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards given at the Department of Agriculture. The Honor Awards recognize deserving USDA employees at all grade levels and private citizens who have made outstanding contributions in support of USDA's mission. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer presented a 2008 Honor Award to the eXtension team for its excellence in leadership and commitment to bringing Americans the best research-based, objective, and reliable information and educational resources 24/7/365 online through eXtension and the Cooperative Extension System. eXtension was launched on February 21, 2008, at USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in Washington, DC. During this rollout celebration, the Personal Finance Community of Practice (COP) was recognized as a pioneer, along with 15 other COPs. The Financial Security for All COP is advised by CSREES’ Jane Schuchardt  and Linda Kirk Fox, Washington State University, and is composed of more than 200 extension professionals from across the nation.

Being able to retire when you want and how you want is important to many people. Planning can put you in a position to live comfortably during your retirement. The objective of this course is to help you with your retirement planning. Each module provides information that can help answer the questions you need to consider as you make your plans. The modules include specific goals for the module, activities to complete, and sources for more information. Now, located at the same site, are English and Spanish versions of Planning for a Secure Retirement.

At the University of Missouri, the Departments of Agricultural Economics and Personal Financial Planning (PFP) have cooperated to allow students who major in agricultural economics to minor in personal financial planning.  The combined coursework satisfies the necessary education requirements to prepare graduates to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) examination.  This is one of eight CFP registered degree (or certificate) programs maintained by the PFP Department and their cooperating colleagues, including the Schools of Business and Law, in addition to Agricultural Economics.

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Spendster.org, built by the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®), allows people to share information about purchases they now regret, and they rate and discuss those of others. The site also provides tools to calculate how costly items, like unopened DVDs, really are and how much could have been saved if that money were put to more productive use. Spendster allows for video and photo uploads, provides a calculator that determines the actual cost of unnecessary and under-utilized purchases if paid for via credit card, and calculates how much these expenditures could have generated for retirement 40 years hence. NEFE hopes that Spendster.org will demonstrate to consumers the long-term financial effects of buyer’s remorse while educating consumers on their own personal financial needs and capabilities.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a new Web site to introduce kids to key consumer and business concepts. Set in a shopping mall, the FTC takes kids on an experiential journey that presents the FTC’s mission and its important role in American commerce. Kids under 12 spend billions of dollars on goods and services every year.  “FTC.gov/YouAreHere links the important work of the FTC to the lives of children,” said FTC Chairman William Kovacic. “It teaches kids how to be more savvy consumers by demonstrating the benefits of competition, how advertising can influence buying decisions, and the rules and regulations that many business people deal with. It’s a great tool for parents and teachers who are trying to help kids understand their role in the marketplace.”

The site features animated guides who help visitors navigate a virtual mall and interact with shopkeepers and other consumers. Kids can design and print advertisements for a shoe store, uncover suspicious claims in an ad, and guess the retail price of various candies based on their supply, demand, and production costs. One game that has players match the features of various cell phones with certain audiences illustrates the principles of target marketing; another allows visitors to compare sales pitches from three pizza joints as it explains competition. A short film playing at the cinema illustrates the history of the FTC.

JA Worldwide is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. Junior Achievement programs prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities. JA Worldwide recently commissioned the development of two white papers to help young people understand the current financial crisis. One targets educators and the other is for students.

The Financial Literacy Update is a periodic, new resource containing information about upcoming financial literacy events, new initiatives of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and other organizations in the financial literacy field, and listings of financial literacy and consumer financial education resources.

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  • Grants.gov is your source to find and apply for federal government grants. There are over 1,000 grant programs offered by all Federal grant making agencies.

  • National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE®) - The NEFE® Grants program deadline for April 2009 grant cycle is December 2, 2008. To learn more about the NEFE® Grants program visit the NEFE® Web site, and click on the Grantsmaking section. 
  • MMI Education Foundation - The foundation uses its resources to serve the public interest and strengthen the communities where we live and work. The foundation provides periodic announcements and grant guidelines. 

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Grantees provide financial literacy training to enable low-income individuals and families to achieve economic self-sufficiency. 

  • Foundation for Financial Literacy - The Foundation for Personal Literacy supports educational, charitable, and other organizations that use financial education to teach individuals how to convert earned income into passive and portfolio income.

  • FINRA Investor Education Foundation Grant Programs – Submission deadlines and decision dates for 2009 grant opportunities will be announced in November. Subscribe to the e-mail newsletter for periodic updates. 

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2009

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  • CSREES Contact: Jane Schuchardt, National Program Leader, CSREES-USDA

  • eXtension (pronounced ee-eXtension) Financial Security for All provides reliable, research-based, and up-to-date financial and consumer information, including learning lessons, fact sheets, and unbiased peer-reviewed answers to frequently asked questions. Consumers can access eXtension 24/7/365 on any Internet-ready device.
    Contact: Debra Pankow, family economics specialist, North Dakota State University, or go to eXtension.org and click on Personal Finance.

  • National Initiative "Financial Security in Later Life" Contact: Nancy M. Porter, Family Resource Management Specialist, Clemson University

  • Financial Literacy for Youth Contact: Erica Tobe, Program Leader for Youth Financial Literacy, Michigan State University Extension


Back issues of Family Economics News
are available.

To submit items for consideration for this newsletter, contact Jim Terry, Program Analyst, CSREES-USDA.


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