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Updated Financial Toolkit Helps Frontline Workers Serve Clients
Iowa Ag Connection - 08/13/2019

Talking about money and goals may be difficult for frontline workers who are focused on helping clients address other issues. However, their clients often face complex financial situations. That is why Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are collaborating to offer "Your Money, Your Goals," a financial empowerment toolkit for frontline workers.

"You may be talking with someone about parenting, housing, health care, food assistance, employment or another issue when the topic shifts to finances. You could use some tools with information and resources to integrate into the conversation," said Phyllis Zalenski, a human sciences specialist in family finances with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Your Money, Your Goals" is a suite of financial empowerment tools that provides unbiased information and links to resources, which frontline workers can use to help others build skills in managing money, credit, debt, financial products and related topics. The materials are designed for nonprofit groups, social service providers, volunteers, clergy members or anyone interested in helping others take steps toward financial stability and self-sufficiency.

"Having all these resources in one place can make it easier to bring financial information into conversations you already are having with your clients," Zalenski said.

A new version of the toolkit, released earlier this year, features an updated design with 43 tools and information pieces. Each tool in the toolkit is now available as a separate, downloadable PDF document that can be completed electronically and saved as a PDF file. Add information directly into the tools and automatic calculations occur for tracking spending, income, cash flow and more. The Bureau plans to release a Spanish version of the toolkit later this year.

ISU Extension and Outreach offers a workshop on "Your Money, Your Goals." The interactive workshop includes a copy of the 243-page toolkit, supplemental materials and opportunities for community networking. Zalenski and human sciences specialists in family finance across the state facilitate the six-hour workshop.

"The workshop equips you to effectively use the toolkit and other resources to increase the financial stability of your clients," Zalenski said. "If you are a social work professional seeking continuing education credit, the course qualifies for credit."

A primary goal of "Your Money, Your Goals" is to increase knowledge and confidence in financial concepts and tools so that professionals and volunteers can help others. Three months after participating in the workshop, 83% of participants had used tools and resources from the toolkit and about 90% had discussed financial information with an average of seven clients. The training positively affected their helping relationship on financial empowerment issues, Zalenski said.

To schedule a workshop for your organization or in your community, contact your local ISU Extension and Outreach human sciences specialist at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/staff-family-finance. For more information about "Your Money, Your Goals," visit https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/your-money-goals.

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