AMES, Iowa -- According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, in 2013 nearly half of households do not have a basic personal safety net to prepare for emergencies or future needs, such as a child’s college education or homeownership. Other top financial issues included too much debt, costs of renting or owning a home, and unemployment. As families continue to face these financial challenges, social service agencies, financial institutions and others are searching for effective tools to help clients manage finances and reach their personal goals.
In response to this situation, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach launched “Sharpen Your Financial Coaching Skills.” The course is designed for volunteers, clergy, social workers and others working in nonprofit groups and organizations, who assist their clients or members with financial management concerns, said Mary Weinand, an ISU Extension and Outreach family finance specialist
Financial coaching focuses on helping individuals build skills and on teaching content based on the person’s unique needs and goals, Weinand said. It is an on-going process that allows the client to make decisions and provides support to achieve long-term outcomes. The six sessions covered in the program include goal setting, credit, budgeting, saving, getting organized and financial crisis management.
Participants/coaches learn how to recognize the causes, complexity and associated stress of financial problems, Weinand continued They also gain tools and strategies they can use to assist their clients with various financial problems. Just as important, the course helps participants recognize client situations that are not appropriate for a non-professional to address.
Course evaluations indicated that the coaches appreciated the variety of activities offered during the course, including group discussions, panel presentations, video segments, websites and hands-on tools. Comments from people who have completed the course include:
“I will be incorporating it in my job — trying to help clients learn to prevent getting into financial crisis rather than always trying to find a way out of one.”
“I plan to use this course to assist others in some problems that cause stress.”
“I felt the combination of items helped me look at different sides of financial problems.”
“These new financial coaches are offering unbiased education and resources designed to help people gain control of their finances. They serve as motivators and mentors to individuals who need help with starting and maintaining a spending plan, basic money management, saving toward a goal, understanding credit and other financial concerns. ISU Extension and Outreach is promoting the financial coaching services throughout the state to improve the financial stability of Iowa families,” Weinand said.
Twelve hours of Social Work CEUs are available upon request after completing the “Sharpening Your Financial Coaching Skills” course.
For more information about the “Sharpening Your Financial Coaching Skills” course contact any ISU Extension and Outreach family finance specialist.