Older adults have a chance to brush up on their money management skills thanks to an AARP Foundation program first launched last year in cities nationwide.
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AARP Foundation Finances 50+SM ("Finances 50+"), sponsored by and developed in collaboration with the Charles Schwab Foundation, is a series of three free workshops geared toward low-income workers and job seekers age 50 and over who have been hit hard by the economic downturn. The classes cover budgeting, managing debt and developing a savings plan.
AARP research has found that more than 20 million people age 50-plus struggle to make ends meet, and the unemployment rate for that age group has doubled since December 2007.
"This is really a financial intervention program, designed to help people before they fall deeper into instability," said Jo Ann Jenkins, president of AARP Foundation. "We know that stabilizing a person's financial situation and increasing their financial capability can be a prerequisite for success in finding and retaining a job. This program is about empowering individuals to take control of their finances regardless of their circumstances."
The workshops are offered in seven cities: Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Denver; New Orleans; Phoenix; San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Local organizations that serve the older community host the 90-minute classes.
People can sign up for the workshop series online at aarp.org/finances50plus. The workshops are free, and participants will have a chance to earn up to $30 by responding to follow-up surveys that aim to evaluate the program's effectiveness.
The workshops cover the basics but also spend time on how to prioritize decisions in order to reach a goal. People who complete all three sessions will create their own road maps to achieve their debt reduction and savings goals.
After each class session, participants will have a chance to sign up for one-on-one help from a mentor to help them stay on track. The workshops and one-on-one follow-up sessions are conducted by a combination of AARP Foundation and Charles Schwab Foundation volunteers, as well as volunteers provided by local nonprofit organizations. (Visit aarp.org/finances50plus to find a link to volunteer in your city.)
AARP Foundation is also encouraging people to bring the Finances 50+ program to their own community groups. Both the volunteer's and participant's workbooks are available on the website for downloading, and multiple copies may be ordered through AARP Foundation for free.
Also of interest: 7 ways to minimize prepaid debit card fees.