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In this Sunday Edition, a plan to help Utahns gain financial freedom and security. Learn about two affiliated programs to help you learn to take control of your money.
Segment 1: Utah Saves
Our household financial situations are often not a pretty picture. For example, 35 percent of Utah renters and 29 percent of Utah homeowners are paying more than they can afford for their housing.
We used to live paycheck to paycheck, we are now not even quite making it paycheck to paycheck, many of us.
–Ann House, USU Extension
Do you think you are in control of your finances? Or are they controlling you? Utah Saves Week begins on Tuesday, Feb. 22. It is a non-partisan initiative aimed at helping households increase their financial literacy, and save and build wealth.
Ann House, an assistant professor with the USU Extension finance education program, and Utah Saves Campaign Coordinator and Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, explain the initiative.
House would give Utahns a "C" grade on financial management. "We are doing some things well, other things we are not doing well and we need to do better," she says. "The biggest problems pretty much are we don't have enough money to get us through the end of the month."
She says about one-third of Utahns live at or below 200 percent of poverty level.
"You know the old saying we used to live paycheck to paycheck, we are now not even quite making it paycheck to paycheck, many of us," House explains.
But the trend is changing and people are beginning to save. Before the recession as a nation we were spending more money than we were earning. But we are now saving a little.
"I want all Utahns to tap into this trend, this savings trend, and there are many different ways you can save," says House. "Getting out of debt is a good way to save."
Jones explains her role in the initiative.
"I am sponsoring a financial literacy piece of legislation, that will be signed by the governor on Tuesday... and we are going to have a financial challenge every day for the week," describes Jones.
The challenges include checking your credit report and discussing finances with your family. The challenges will be announced each morning on KSL and in the Deseret News. Participants have the opportunity to win prizes.
"We are hoping that people will get in the right habits to save money, to know how to use credit cards responsibly," says Jones.
She got involved after sponsoring legislation three years ago to include financial literacy in all grades of public school. She has learned people don't know where to turn for financial tips and help.
"I want to let people know there are services out there that can help them if they are in trouble, but also to give them the tools that they need to become more financially responsible," Jones says.
Segment 2: Imagine A Happier You
"Imagine a Happier You" is a Deseret Media Companies (parent company of KSL) financial literacy initiative aimed at women.
We actually found statistics that women live longer, but they make less and are the primary caregivers for their children and for their parents. Money is very emotional for them.
–Nelda McAllister, Imagine a Happier You
Nelda McAllister, director of corporate communications for Deseret Media Companies and executive director of this initiative, and Amanda Dickson, KSL Newsradio, do much of the heavy lifting on this Deseret Media Companies campaign.
Dickson explains how enlightening it is for women to learn about and focus on finances.
"They are surprised at the experience, at how enlightening it is," she says. "These are intelligent, educated women who didn't know the effect of things like letting a credit card sit in their wallet for a long time or what happens if you spend over a certain amount of money, or who haven't had a conversation with their family about money."
Money is very emotional for women and mothers want to allow their children all kinds of opportunities.
"We actually found statistics that women live longer, but they make less and are the primary caregivers for their children and for their parents. Money is very emotional for them," McAllister explains. "Our bloggers said they were thinking about giving a debit card to their kids so their kids would feel better about bonding. I can't see men doing that as much. But they want to see their families succeeding."
"We want our kids to have everything. And we associate that with money. We will put ourselves in a bad situation financially because we want our kids to have everything," says Dickson. She explains it is hard to say no to an activity a child wants to participate in.
Imagine A Happier You will soon include the whole family with a new contest - the Biggest Saver program. Visit the Imagine A Happier You website to learn more.