Family Finances in Tough Times: OSU Extension Offers Materials, Education
The nation's economic downturn has families across Ohio pinching pennies and focusing on finances with a keener eye than ever. Often, they turn to Ohio State University Extension for free and low-cost information and programs.
Among the free publications, offered on OSU Extension's "Ohioline" Web site (http://ohioline.osu.edu) are:
- "Keeping Track of Spending," a two-page fact sheet to help families record expenses and determine ways to cut flexible expenses. http://ohioline.osu.edu/mm-fact/0007.html
- "Know Your Valuable Papers," a 12-page worksheet to help families keep track of important documents. http://ohioline.osu.edu/pdf/l237.pdf
- "Some Options for Resourceful Living," a four-page fact sheet offering ideas to trim expenses on food, clothing, transportation, and other household expenses. http://ohioline.osu.edu/mm-fact/0009.html
- "Manage Your Money," an extensive self-study course that people can complete at their own pace. The six-lesson course covers everything from examining money-related values to determining cash flow and net worth. http://ohioline.osu.edu/mym/
- The "Home Account Book," a 37-page record-keeping booklet to help keep track of a year's worth of financial information. http://ohioline.osu.edu/pdf/b723.pdf
The Home Account Book is also available for just a few dollars on OSU Extension's online "e-Store," at http://estore.osu-extension.org. Other family finance items available for purchase on e-Store include:
- "Budget in a Box" booklet ($4.25) and envelopes ($2.75), designed to help families track where their money goes and encourage them to spend with cash instead of credit. Research shows that people tend to spend less when paying with cash.
- "Making Your Money Work" ($3.25), a 42-page workbook focusing on the basics of financial management.
- The "Counting Your Money Calendar" ($2.00), a 12-month budgeting system in a calendar format.
OSU Extension also has assisted gathering information for Extension's national web resource, http://www.eXtension.org. On the "Financial Crisis" pages (http://www.extension.org/financial_crisis), dozens of materials are available including "Saving Money at the Gas Pump," "Controlling Spending," and "Debt Management in Tough Times." The web site also offers the opportunity for users to submit questions to Extension experts from across the nation for guidance on specific financial challenges.
In addition, OSU Extension offers two Signature Programs dealing with personal finance:
- New Start. New Start classes are currently offered in 45 Ohio counties to people who have filed for bankruptcy. Classes are open to all Ohioans and residents of neighboring states. For more information, see http://newstart.osu.edu.
- Real Money, Real World. In Real Money, Real World, students assume the role of a 25-year-old adult. They choose (or are assigned) one of 108 occupations with a corresponding salary, and find out how many children they're raising. After initial lessons, the program culminates in a real-life hour-long simulation: The students visit various booths staffed by community volunteers to pay for their housing, utilities, child care, transportation costs, insurance, phone and internet access, groceries, and other items typical in a family budget. More information is available at http://realmoneyrealworld.osu.edu. The curriculum is available on CD from OSU Extension at http://estore.osu-extension.org/.