Summer 1985 // Volume 23 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW1

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Financial Planning Seminar


Barbara O'Neill
Associate Professor, Department of Home Economics
Sussex County Extension Home Economist
Newton, New Jersey

To help our clientele understand the financial planning process, a program called "Be Your Own Financial Planner" was offered by Extension in two northern New Jersey counties. Nearly 100 people attended 1 of 5 different sessions taught by me and outside financial professionals. Two were onemeeting classes, while the others were the introductory meeting in a three-week financial planning series.

Topics included the steps in the financial planning process, as well as how to prepare important financial statements. Hands-on experience was provided by frequent questioning, value-clarification exercises, and assignments-such as reviewing an insurance policy. Resources used to develop the class included two Rutgers Cooperative Extension leaflets on budgeting and net worth. A "Common Financial Errors" list and a data survey form for participants to record important financial information were also distributed.

Initial evaluations at the end of each program were very positive. Over 60% of the participants rated the class "very valuable." About three months after the three-week series classes were held, a follow-up survey was sent to participants to assess behavioral changes. Almost 45% responded. The following actions were mentioned: being aware of expenditures, saving for an emergency fund, organizing financial matters using the data survey form, making a will, changing to a money market account, reading more about mutual funds, re-evaluating finances, developing an organized plan, and reevaluating insurance. Two-thirds of the respondents already made 1 or more changes and 75% planned to.

New information participants reported learning from the classes included: preparing financial statements, importance of disability insurance, investment options, recommended amount for an emergency fund, how to compute net worth, importance of financial goals, need for organization, and necessity of adequate insurance.

Programs such as "Be Your Own Financial Planner" can be done as a speech or class or the introductory segment of a series of classes with sessions on insurance, taxes, retirement planning, or estate planning. Special programs can also be arranged to discuss the special financial planning considerations, such as income tax and estate plans, of farm families. These sessions can be taught by Extension agents alone or with financial planning professionals.