February 1999 // Volume 37 // Number 1 // Feature Articles // 1FEA1

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Money 2000: A Model Extension Program

The Money 2000 program is designed to increase personal savings and/or reduce debt, ultimately enhancing the financial well-being of individuals and families. This article describes the following strategies utilized with the Money 2000 program: focusing programming, employing successful marketing strategies, engaging diverse audiences, and documenting impact. Analyzing these strategies will provide insights for developing and implementing other successful Extension programs.

Nancy M. Porter
Family Resource Management Specialist
Internet address: nporter@clemson.edu

Joyce H. Christenbury
Family Resource Management Specialist
Internet address: jchrstn@clemson.edu

Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina


Money 2000 is a personal financial management program designed to increase the financial well-being of individuals and families through increased saving and/or reduced household debt. The South Carolina Money 2000 program encourages families in each of the state's 46 counties to increase their levels of wealth by $2,000 by the end of the year 2000.

Through the program, participants set individual financial goals that may be more or less than $2000 depending on their unique financial situation. Participants attend educational programs and workshops, they receive quarterly newsletters, and their progress is monitored periodically to determine cumulative impact.

Many households in the United States are living on the financial "edge" with little or no savings and high debt loads. The Consumer Federation of America estimates that there are more than 55 million American households with revolving credit-card balances, and the average each owes is more than $7,000. Interest charges and fees, on average, annually cost more than $1,000 (Bennett, 1997). More than 1.4 million bankruptcies were filed in 1997, up 19%, from the 1996 rate (Associated Press, 1998). In South Carolina there were 11,088 bankruptcies, an increase of 15% over the 1996 rate. Low savings rates (savings as a percentage of disposable income) are also cause for concern. A little over one decade ago, in 1984, Americans saved 8.8% of their after-tax income. In 1996, the U.S. savings rate was only 4.9%.

The productivity and profitability of agriculture and other businesses are greatly influenced by the financial management behaviors of the individuals who manage and work in these industries. In addition to increased levels of debt and lower savings rates, examples of poor financial management behaviors cited by Garman, Leech & Grable (1996) include the following: regularly spending more money than is earned, writing bad checks, failure to pay bills or regularly paying late, receiving calls from collection agencies, regularly losing money by gambling, typically having liabilities in excess of assets, property repossession, and filing for bankruptcy.

Garman cites studies that report lost employee productivity ranging from 10% to 25% depending on the degree and nature of employee distress. This financial distress leads to productivity and revenue losses due to increased substance abuse, greater disability and compensation claims, thefts from employers, lack of employee focus and concentration, more frequent accidents, and lower output.

It was recently reported that the Pentagon (thus, all taxpayers) loses over $200 million a year due to bad checks, loan defaults, and bankruptcies of Navy employees (Luther, 1997). The total loss caused by all employees in the United States would be staggering given this figure for the employees of just one branch of the military.

Grass-Roots Economic Development

Within the Government Performance Reporting Act (GPRA), Goal 5 measures programs designed "to enhance economic opportunities and the quality of life among families and communities." Combining program efforts from over twenty states offering the program over several years, Money 2000 has the potential for tremendous economic impact on families who accomplish their financial goals. As these dollars are invested or spent they will enhance the economic development of individual communities, counties, states, and the nation as a whole.

Money 2000 helps to enhance families' financial stability and well-being through increasing savings and reducing indebtedness. Unless citizens are able to effectively manage the money they earn and use it to accomplish their financial goals, communities are unable to thrive and prosper economically.

Money saved by families is generally invested back into communities through a variety of plans including saving accounts, business endeavors, purchasing stock, and buying municipal and government bonds. Increasing investment holdings in financial institutions by citizens from their own communities lowers the cost of capital for those financial institutions, one of their largest operating expenses. Reducing indebtedness increases families' financial stability and reduces economic risks, as well as returning money back to creditors and businesses within their communities.

A Focused Program Effort

Traditionally, Extension programs have tried to be all things to all people. A more focused approach has been advocated in recent years to maximize decreasing numbers of personnel and limited resources. In this program effort, the large subject-matter area of family financial management has been focused under one umbrella concept, Money 2000. Educational programs that relate to all of the essential building blocks of successful financial management are available within this program to enhance the efforts of participants as they set and achieve financial goals.

Successful Marketing Strategies

Money 2000 has employed several successful marketing strategies to enhance the program and the visibility of Cooperative Extension. These strategies include the following: state and local governmental collaborations/agency partnerships, promotional items, and technology transfer, all of which have lead to extensive media coverage of the program.

Agent training in January 1997 culminated with a statewide press conference. A proclamation signed by the Governor naming South Carolina a "Money 2000 State" was presented. A wide variety of stakeholders and policy makers including representatives from the Governor's office, the South Carolina House and Senate, Clemson University Board of Trustees, South Carolina Department of Social Services, South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, Farm Bureau, Extension administration, and county Extension personnel attended the press conference. Press coverage announcing the program was extensive on local and cable television stations and through electronic and print media. Subsequently, 16 county councils (35%) made proclamations of "Money 2000 County."

To further promote the program, marketing items and teaching tools were developed to increase visibility and awareness of the program. These items include displays, banners, refrigerator memo boards, jar grippers, mints, sports bottles, note pads, boxes for program materials, and crack n' peel stickers. All of these marketing items displayed the same graphic in identical colors of green and white and the Clemson Extension wordmark to enhance program recognition. In addition to the consistency of the graphics, the sound bite "Helping You Make Financial Dreams a Reality" was used exclusively.

One marketing/teaching tool worthy of note is the magnetic refrigerator memo board. During the goal-setting lesson, participants write out their financial goal in words, visualize that goal with a picture, and then chart their goal achievement progress over time on the memo board. This teaching tool can be attached to the refrigerator door for ready access and continuing motivation as well as marketing Cooperative Extension.

Technology transfer has been incorporated through the use of a Money 2000 site (http://fyd.clemson.edu/mon2000.htm) on the World Wide Web. This site contains a program overview, on-line enrollment and progress report forms, newsletters, and links to other state Money 2000 programs.

Nationally, Money 2000 has been featured in the popular press through Money (Smith, 1998) and has received accolades and endorsements from a diverse group of prestigious individuals including Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Audience Diversification

The Money 2000 program in South Carolina targets a variety of audiences including the following: adult, youth, limited resource, rural farm families, Family and Community Leaders (FCL), and the Clemson University family. Program materials have been adapted to specifically meet the needs of selected groups.

"Money My Way" is the title of the adaptation of the Money 2000 Program designed for youth. The program focus is financial fitness for youth and the basics of youth entrepreneurship. The curriculum teaches essential life skills and enables youth to grow into financially literate adults. Guidance is provided to help youth turn a 4-H project or other interest into a business endeavor.

A component of the Learning, Innovative, Networking, and Celebration (LINC) Nutrition Education Plan for 1998 funded by the South Carolina Department of Social Services initiated the adaptation of a Money 2000 program for limited resource audiences. The program is entitled "Financial Management for the Not-Yet-Wealthy." A pilot of this component of the Money 2000 program will begin in 1999 with Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) families. The materials will also be utilized by agents working with small farm families and minority farm families.

Another adaptation of the program targeted Clemson University students, parents, and employees. This audience has been treated almost as a 47th county. A $10,000 innovation grant from the university enabled the Money 2000 program to expand to include students and their parents through programs offered during summer orientation, senior seminars, resident hall council meetings, and student activity group sessions. In addition, employees have had professional development opportunities to attend Money 2000 programs and enroll as participants.

Documented Program Impact

As of November, 1998, there are 2,100 people enrolled in 41 (89%) counties, who together have set goals to save over $5.7 million and to reduce debt by over $3.6 million. A randomly-selected sample (N=291) of the 1150 participants enrolled in the program as of January 14, 1998 was interviewed by telephone and yielded 243 usable responses (84%).

This follow-up survey documented savings goal achievement of $123,479 and debt reduction goal achievement of $151,090 for the 243 usable responses. Generalizing these results to all 1150 participants enrolled at the time of the sample selection would indicate total savings of $584,200 and total debt reduction of $715,300. This is a documented total economic impact of $1.3 million through the Money 2000 program in one year. (The sampling methodology yields a 5% sampling error according to Krejcie & Morgan, 1970.) Goal achievement will continue to be monitored periodically.


Money 2000 is a model Extension program which is focused, employs successful marketing strategies, appeals to diverse audiences, and has documented economic impact. The program continues to be one of the best ways that Clemson has marketed Cooperative Extension and public service activities in South Carolina.


Associated Press. (1998, February 28). Bankruptcies at record high. The Greenville News, p. 1.

Bennett, J. (1997, December 28). Holiday hangover. The Greenville News, pp. B1, B8, B9.

Garman, E. T., Leech, I. E., & Grable, J. E. (1996). The negative impact of employee poor personal financial behaviors on employers. Financial Counseling and Planning, 7, 157-168.

Krejcie, R. V., & Morgan, D. W. (1970). Determining sample size for research activities. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 30, 607-610.

Luther, R. K. (1997, April 23). Scope and impact of personal financial management difficulties of service members on the Department of the Navy: Technical briefing. PA: Military Family Institute, Marywood College, 1-29.

Smith, K. (1998, January). A new program helps you get fiscally fit. Money, 27, 26.