Coaches Build Financial Stability in Iowa Families

Extension Course Offered in Several Communities in September

AMES, Iowa ― Just as a sports coach improves a player’s athletic prowess, a financial coach can improve the financial stability of Iowa families. With a training course from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the people who coach Iowans on financial matters can perform at the top of their game.

Beginning in September, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering Sharpen Your Financial Coaching Skills in several Iowa communities, said family finance specialist Jan Burk. The course is designed for helping professionals, volunteers, social service agencies, clergy, parent educators, and others working in nonprofit groups and organizations that assist their clients or members with financial management concerns. ISU Extension and Outreach family finance specialists teach the course, and sessions are set for Ames, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Council Bluffs, Iowa City, Nevada and Ottumwa, Burk said.

The five-week course combines two face-to-face sessions with three weeks of online learning, said Patricia Swanson, an ISU Extension and Outreach family finance program specialist and Certified Financial Planner professional.

Participants will learn how to recognize the causes, complexity and associated stress of financial problems, Swanson said. They’ll gain tools and strategies they can use to assist clients with various financial problems, as well as apply coaching skills to typical financial situations facing their clients.

“Just as important, this course will help you recognize client situations that are and are not appropriate for you to address,” Swanson added.

“Financial coaches aren’t financial ‘professionals.’ They don’t recommend investment strategies or set up estate plans,” Swanson said. “Instead, 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 launched “Sharpen Your Financial Coaching Skills” statewide in fall 2010, Burk noted. More than 200 individuals have participated in the course. Evaluations indicate that participants appreciated the flexibility and variety of activities offered during the course, including group discussions, panel presentations, online chats, textbook, video segments, self tests and posted readings and websites.

“Now these new financial coaches are offering unbiased education and resources designed to help people gain control of their finances,” Swanson said.

To learn more about family finance educational opportunities from ISU Extension and Outreach, contact an ISU Extension and Outreach family finance specialist.