Tips for Happy Holidays without Financial Hangover

October 09, 2009|Print

Topics

Opening

Planning Ahead

Preventing Impulsive Purchases

Paying for Holiday Gifts

Electronic Cards

Saving on Holiday Entertainment

Additional Information Available/ Links

Additional/Alternative Gift Ideas

Gift Cards

Coupon Code Websites

Common Holiday Struggles/Possible Solutions

Marketplace Strategies

Using Credit –Credit Card Act of 2009


Opening

Michael Gutter: - Welcome to our Holiday Shopping without the January Headache. Hi! I’m Michael Gutter (University of Florida) your moderator for today’s chat along with our technician, Dustin Hyatt (Connect System). Today’s chat, that will last about one hour, and is sponsored and supported by members of the Financial Security for All Community of Practice. Our team of experts listed on your screen will be responding to your questions. They are: Megan O'Neil-Haight, University of Maryland, Laura Royer, Osceola County Extension, Alicia B. Betancourt, Monroe County Extension and Dr. Michael Gutter, University of Florida – Moderator. All are highly qualified to talk about this subject; their bios were displayed online at http://cop.extension.org/wiki/Homebuyer_Education_and_Homeownership_Sustainability. If you send an email to msgutter@ufl.edu you will receive notice when a transcribed copy of this chat can be viewed on the eXtension Website. Our panelists have some initial comments to share with you.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: The holiday season is upon us and this one has heightened importance because of the economic crisis. Many are unemployed, some are homeless or on the verge of it. However, the spirit of giving and celebrating is a strong pull and people and families do need ideas in these tough times. We can still give and enjoy the holidays while spending less.


Planning Ahead

Michael Gutter: Perhaps the best remedy for this is to have a plan and strategies to help you make decisions so that you do not get caught up in the spirit and spend more than you are comfortable doing.

Michael Gutter: Create an overall holiday spending limit. What is the most you want to spend in aggregate for the holiday season? This should not include gifts but other things such as travel should you be visiting relatives or friends for the holidays.

Michael Gutter: Make a list of people you need to buy things for. Try to think of what you have in mind for each person. If it is not a specific item, then you should think in terms of specific dollar limits. Without setting this in advance, it can be easy to say, “He would love this game or she would love this sweater” only to see that you are spending much more than you wanted on that person. Check to be sure that the total you plan to spend when looking at each person is not exceeding the amount you wanted to spend for everything…

Michael Gutter: If you have access to the Internet, you should check out which stores carry the items you are looking for at the best prices. If you start early, you might be able to order some of this online and possibly save some money and time. However, be sure to confirm that the delivery timing works with your families’ plans.

Alicia Betancourt: You should know in advance what you want to buy so you’re not enticed by all the attractive merchandise on the shelves. Monitor your spending along the way. Plan ahead. You’ve only got a few weeks to pull everything together, so make a list of everything you need to do and plot it out on a calendar. This is supposed to be a joyous time; don’t let the temptation to overspend ruin your holidays and make you pay for months afterward.

Laura Royer: Some other suggestions I would add is get the easy gifts out of the way first to alleviate some holiday stress.

Laura Royer: Knowing when to shop is also important. Most people know about Black Friday. But there is Cyber Monday which is when all of your major electronics or online stores have their sale. Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Laura Royer: Also, it is important to inquire about store return policies. State laws vary as well as returns.


Preventing Impulsive Purchases

Michael Gutter: Shopping around the first time can be a good idea too. If you are not sure what you want for certain people, shopping can provide you with some good ideas. However, do not buy anything that is not on your list before you get there.

Michael Gutter: Do not take credit cards with you when you go shopping at least for the first time you go shopping. If you do not have your credit cards with you, you are less likely to spend more than you planned since many of our impulsive purchases are possible only with using credit cards.

Michael Gutter: Go over your list with a spouse, trusted friend, or even relative. Remember everything you plan to charge must still be paid for.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: On store credit cards, people of all ages and education levels seem perpetually unaware of the negative impact of saying yes on their FICO score.

Alicia Betancourt 2: I always recommend that people first buy a small notebook to write all their purchases in, many people overspend without realizing it until January


Paying for Holiday Gifts

Michael Gutter: Plan to pay off anything you charge on the holidays in January or within 1-2 months at the longest. Considering the holidays come every year, we will never be able to get ahead if we are still paying off debt from last year when you begin your holiday spending for this year.

Alicia Betancourt: First, take a hard look at what you typically spend on gifts, decorations, clothes, wrapping paper, cards, special meals, and year-end gratuities. At the same time, look at the rest of your budget and estimate how much you can afford to spend without racking up debt. Some financial planners recommend spending no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on holiday expenses. If you haven’t saved that much, look for ways to cut back, but make sure you do it before the holiday rush starts.

Laura Royer: Consider using the envelope method once you set a budget for how much you plan on spending on each person/item. Divide the amount per person/item and put your cash in each envelope. This will help you keep track of how you are spending your money and how much was spent.


Electronic Cards

Megan O'Neil-Haight: about sending holiday cards: make your own or go paperless... if your list is long, even the postage can be a big expense.

Barbara O'Neill: Is sending an nice PDF file greeting card via e-mail still considered tacky or are more people doing this these days? Or, perhaps, links to holiday greetings on Facebook, etc.?

Michael Gutter: Barbara - many of my friends and family have switched to the Facebook greetings. For the recent holiday, almost everyone I know sent E-cards or FB cards

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Speaking of cards... and PAPER. This year is a good year to recycle. No purchased wrapping paper is needed. Paper is EVERYWHERE! Newspapers, the recycle bin, brown bags... use as is or add some ink and stamps and some paint if you'd like.

Alicia Betancourt: Draw, design, and print your own cards, gift tags, and mailing labels from old cards or recycled paper.


Saving on Holiday Entertainment

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Besides gifts, entertainment is a great big huge sucking sound out of our wallets at holiday time.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: On entertainment, share rides, plan inexpensive public transportation, borrow outfits from friends, and choose your venue wisely (read the menu from right to left before you make the reservation!)

Rebecca Travnichek, Univ. of Missouri Ext: For the holiday meals, do a potluck rather than cooking everything yourself or having the event catered.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Also on entertainment: cutting back on the bar tab by slowing down or alternating with water and also eating before you go out can help you keep your check in check!

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Instead of lunch or dinner out, this is a great time of year to have a gourmet coffee date - less than $10!

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Lots of great info and ideas and links here. Reuse those lights and don't turn them on too early or keep them on all night - watch the energy bills right along with all the other money leaks!

Alicia Betancourt 2: I like that Megan, savings can be green here is a link for an article I wrote on budget a green holiday http://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/community/Budget_a_Green_Holiday.pdf


Additional Information Available/ Links

Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Is there a program put together on this topic ready to go? I've had this specific request for next week. Yes, I'll include all the points mentioned above.

Laura Royer: Vickie: several of us have PowerPoints available so if you'll just email us, I'm sure we can share some of what we have

Michael Gutter: Vickie, my initial comments are from a PPT I gave to Home and Community Educators, I am happy to share it.

Alicia Betancourt: I have some links to PDF documents and websites that I like here are a couple: http://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/community/Budget_a_Green_Holiday.pdfhttp://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/community/2006ConsumerAlmanac.pdfhttp://blogs.consumerreports.org/money/2008/11/holiday-budget.htmlhttp://personal-budget-creation.suite101.com/article.cfm/holiday_budget_templates_and_tools

Laura Royer: I have posted some of my notes from my Holiday Shopping program on our website which can be found at http://osceola.ifas.ufl.edu/FCS_HF_2008Holidays.shtml

Alicia Betancourt 2: I have used a website for calculators Holiday Spending Worksheet from SmartMoney.com it is organized for eight holiday spending categories and It shows you automatic calculations for budgeted holiday spending, actual holiday spending, budget surplus or deficit in numbers and by percentage and in a pie graph, and the Holiday Spending Worksheet can be printed or emailed. http://personal-budget-creation.suite101.com/article.cfm/holiday_budget_templates_and_tools#ixzz0S2QL3FVm


Additional/Alternative Gift Ideas

Laura Royer: Another idea is to think outside of the gift box. For example, have a family gift exchange in which you each choose one name and put more thought than money into selecting a single gift. Or buy a single gift for your brother's entire family -- perhaps an entertainment basket filled with DVDs, microwave popcorn and gift certificates to the movies.

Alicia Betancourt: Make and give holiday arrangements like centerpieces and decorations. Links to holiday arrangements you can make yourself can be found at http://www.gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/giam/potpourri/crafts/holiday_arrangements.html.

Elaine: Another idea for the holidays is to donate to charity in someone's name. Instead of gifts. Our office pools money we might have spent on gifts (we drew names) and donate to a cause in our area.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Cash works and has none of those perception and credit card training program drawbacks

jacqueline Snee: Megan the cash is a great idea. You can also be creative by giving Susan B Anthony or $2.00 bills.

Barbara: Isn't savings bonds still a good idea?

Michael Gutter: Barbara - I think it has a lot to do with how everyone reacts. I get very excited when my son gets them so he gets excited and we talk about things he can buy when he is older...

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Well they have value, but they are not as popular or stylish and as widely accepted as plastic currency

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Too bad bonds can't come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and some with fascinatingholograms of dancing penguins and other cool images like the gift cards!

Michael Gutter: Megan sounds like a good suggestion for Treasury

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Yesir - Consumer Programming division suggestion!

Barbara: Megan, you could always be creative in the way you package them to the kids. You can create your own as a stand in for the real thing.

Elaine: I agree. I like savings bonds for kids

Alicia Betancourt 2: Bonds are a great idea for savings and mine get bonds from the grandparents every year.

mary: we have grandparents deposit into 529 accts

Alicia Betancourt 2: I like to give local products like locally grown citrus, honey, or work from a local artist. Gift cards from local stores would also be a good gift.3

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: It just seems to me that in these times we might suggest that the best gifts are those that bring joy to those poor among us.

Lois Clark: It is sometimes hard to watch a child open a gift and it not be what they wanted, because the requested item cost too much. I know it is a good lesson for the child. Does anyone have any suggestions on handling the emotions of giving and receiving gifts?

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Lois - Liz has a great idea here for refocusing on not the material good/better/best but on the real meaning of giving and receiving

Alicia Betancourt 2: I agree volunteering is the best gift

Alicia Betancourt 2: Give A Priceless Gift: When you make a gift, you give of your time - the most valued gift of all. Make a “Gift of Time” certificate for a chore an older relative cannot easily do, or a trip to the park, or a slumber party for the kids. Make gifts –get your kids involved in this family activity.

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Make a whole calendar of suggested gifts for relatives and friends!

Elaine: I've used coupon books as gifts with some of those time certificates. Always well received. Also making a family calendar for the next year with birthdays, photos, etc.

Alicia Betancourt 2: We make cookies every year for all our friends and neighbors, it takes days but it our most treasured tradition.


Gift Cards

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Gift cards are a red flag zone, no?

Barbara: Specific Gift cards are only really valuable is you know it is a favorite shopping place for the person. Gift cards relating to a hobby are great.

Laura Royer: I would caution when purchasing gift card because of the economical situation. A store could close in your area. Another issue with gift cards is that if the chain files bankruptcy they do not have to honor the gift card either. Even if they are doing a reorganization bankruptcy.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Gift cards are known within the retail industry as a “stored-value”product. They often store their value permanently and much to a company’s delight. TowerGroup, a financial-services research firm, estimates that of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006, $8BILLION will never be redeemed. Consumer Reports estimates that 19 percent of the people who received a gift card in 2005 never used it. Best Buy earned $16 million last year in card value that was bought, but never redeemed. Then there is what the retail industry calls “upspending.” Most customers spend some of their own money to buy merchandise that exceeds the value of the card … another holiday bonus to the company.

Barbara: Don't the major credit cards now have gift cards? That should be safe enough.

Alicia Betancourt: The better cards to give would be the visa cards as they can be used anywhere; however, they come with an added charge when you purchase them.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: There are such things as dual branded gift cards that work for a specific store, but also outside that store with MC or VISA backing

Barbara O'Neill: At least now with the new credit card law (CARD Act), they can't expire for 5 years after 8/22/10. That assumes that the company stays in business, of course.

Barbara O'Neill: I was just checking some more CARD Act info...it says that issuers can no longer assess inactivity fees unless the card has not been used for 12 months. I agree that, the sooner you use them, the better.

Alicia Betancourt: I like to send gift cards for out of town gifts because shipping costs so much.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Alicia - do you buy them for kids, adults, or both?

Alicia Betancourt: I buy the kids cards like I-Tunes and cards for online games, blockbuster cards, etc. The adults I usually do restaurant cards.

Laura Royer: I agree with Alicia. If you are going to buy gift cards, buying the VISA logo cards are ideal. Though they cost more, you can ensure they will be worth something when used.

Laura Royer: Elaine: FTC has a publication on it http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt010.shtm

Laura Royer: Though it was from last year, I have some information on what stores were doing in response to the economic conditions last season that you may find useful. You can find what some stores have already done regarding closings, reorganization and bankruptcies at http://osceola.ifas.ufl.edu/FCS_HF_RetailersCondition.shtml

Megan O'Neil-Haight: I just don't like gifts cards for kids and especially those bearing credit industry logos. Today our kids are comfortable plunking down the plastic bearing corporate logos of credit card companies when purchasing things they want – without having to consider the pesky details like interest rates, paying bills, and understanding numerous fees associated with “real” credit cards. Skip the credit card education… just give kids something that looks exactly like a credit card and have them practice using it! Brilliant future credit card holder training program - virtually ensures credit card company profit when these same kids later screw up by obtaining high interest cards, going over limits and not paying on time.

Elaine: Does anyone have a great article on gift cards?

Megan O'Neil-Haight: I have a fact sheet/article titled The Perfect Gift: but for KIDS? that can be reprinted for educational purposes if anyone wishes. Email me at oneil@umd.edu and I will send you PDF. Soon an edited version will be available at eXtension.org.


Coupon Code Websites

Laura Royer: Another useful tool online are all of the coupon code websites. These are very helpful in saving consumers money. I will share some of the ones I like.

Laura Royer: www.couponchief.com

Laura Royer: www.currentcodes.com

Laura Royer: www.couponcabin.com

Laura Royer: Rather posted each, I have several links posted on my website for coupon codes, places to shop online, websites to use for comparing prices between vendors, online reward programs. All of these can be found at http://osceola.ifas.ufl.edu/FCS_HF_2008Holidays.shtml

Elaine: Thanks for all the great resources!


Common Holiday Struggles/Possible Solutions

Megan O'Neil-Haight: What do you all (participants all) hear people struggling with at holiday time and how do you address it?

Elaine: One issue for parents is the overwhelming desire to get everything on their children's list. Although the economy may help temper that this year, what are some suggestions for dealing with this mindset?

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Elaine - one educational piece is to try going listless If you ask for a list from a person you are getting a gift for, you are somewhat locked into picking from it. So if you want to ideally spend $10 and all that is on the list is $30 DVDs, you are out of luck. Think outside the box. Exchange gifts without a list.

Laura Royer: Elaine: Or you can suggest they narrow down the list to their top 3 choices.

Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: I have a sister in law with 10 children and she began from the beginning that everyone got three gifts - that is what was presented to Jesus.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Vickie - I like

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Large families can try picking a name from a hat, too, thereby only having ONE or TWO short lists to work.

Rebecca Travnichek, Univ. of Missouri Ext: The problem I am hearing is with the current economy, families may have to decide between holiday gift or pay property taxes.

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Can we suggest job hunting sources or special part-time jobs over the holidays for those currently without a job?

Michael Gutter: Liz our Managing in Tough Times Downsized site has some ideas on networking, job hunting, etc. http://fycs.ifas.ufl.edu/toughtimes/index.htm

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Liz - part time employment reminds me of an identity theft issue (with many employees hired in only for the season and without background checks) and brings to mind store credit cards.

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: It just seems to me that in these times we might suggest that the best gifts are those that bring joy to those poor among us.

Lois Clark: It is sometimes hard to watch a child open a gift and it not be what they wanted, because the requested item cost too much. I know it is a good lesson for the child. Does anyone have any suggestions on handling the emotions of giving and receiving gifts?

Laura Royer: Lois: This is a great question. The Managing in Tough Times website addresses more generically issues of emotions, stress, etc and helping the family cope together. I'm sure you can use that as a base to focus on the holiday.

Laura Royer: Lois: I think the most important thing in family communication for tight times. Often parents don’t involve their children at any level and there are some things that can be done to help ease the stress. the MITT website has some tips on doing this.

Arla Halpin: One thing we do is someone MC's and we open 1 gift at a time and then pass that around for everyone to see. There are a lot of oo's ans ahh's. We have 4 children. Then we open the next gift. At that point there is not a lot of comparing.

Laura Royer: Arla: I like it. Letting kids know ahead of time I believe helps with the level of expectation.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Worst case scenario, one can always use the hard feelings that may come anyway as a teachable moment for consumer rights to return items they are not satisfied with. I think teaching our children this is important, too.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Important too to help kids recognize when and how they have been over-marketed to and targeted and persuaded to want the latest and greatest whatever

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Kids don't automatically realize that their emotions and passion for a certain item are largely driven by the media machine. another good teachable moment we have at holiday time.

Elaine: yes, The intense marketing to children is challenging to overcome

Arla Halpin: I have a class in Nov. Trimming Your Holiday Budget. Is it appropriate to have older kids know the amount they each have in the budget for holiday spending. Having the family on the same page can alleviate some stress.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Lois - Liz has a great idea here for refocusing on not the material good/better/best but on the real meaning of giving and receiving

Alicia Betancourt 2: I agree volunteering is the best gift Elaine: Perhaps in our messages/articles/programs a discussion on WHY we give gifts and explore those emotions associated with gifts

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Maybe making a facebook recording about giving to others?

Laura Royer: Since Layaway plans are creeping back into stores, you may want to address using layaway in your programs. More information can be found at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HE815

Barbara O'Neill: One tip on layaway. Shoppers can often negotiate a lower price if they see that the price on an item has gone down while it was laid away. It never hurts to ask. If worst comes to worst, you can always cancel the layaway and buy the item outright at the reduced price if the markdown exceeds the layaway fee.


Marketplace Strategies

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: What techniques do you think stores are going to have to get their customers to buy this season?

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Liz - I bet we will see some copy-cat cash for clunkers type gimmicks in stores

Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: The frequency and quantity of sale flyers seems to have increased this year, encourging people to shop early.

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Will inventories be down and will they be running out of produced goods?

Barbara O'Neill: Actually, I read in the WSJ that retailers' inventories are pretty lean and there won't be as many fantastic discounts as last year (e.g., 70% to 80% off)

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Retailers know that their 4th quarter numbers can shutter or save them

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Will we have the fiascos of earlier years - like in Elmo days?

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: That is, too few for the demand?

Michael Gutter: Liz, i have not heard this mentioned as a concern and i am not aware of any toy getting a lot of press other than the new guitar hero game

Using Credit –Credit Card Act of 2009

Megan O'Neil-Haight: How can we best get the 20% off today with a hard inquiry, a new line of credit, a line of credit with a low ceiling and the likelihood of your maintaining a high debt-to-limit- ratio on it, and a potential domino effect with universal default is a BAD CHOICE? How can we really get people saying NO consistently?

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Is there anything in the 8/2010 law that changes how store credit card save 20% today offers are extended or what consumer information must be given at that ask?

Alicia Betancourt 2: Megan- use a calculation to show how much more that 20% ends up costing

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Alicia - yes. but in the case that someone walks away from the holiday season with 5 new store cards that are almost maxed, and all that follows that, the real personal cost is countless!

Alicia Betancourt 2: Yes, they have to keep the introductory offer for 6 months and cannot payoff lower balance first (I believe)

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Even if someone closes the store accounts right after the season, the closures whack the FICO, too.

Alicia Betancourt 2: Any new credit application looks bad

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: No doubt others have been writing articles on the new Credit CARD Act of 2009

Barb O'Neill and I are concerned about the response from creditors and the need to pay attention to information they send out about changes in their contract. Parts of the new act do not become law until February - after the holiday push!

Michael Gutter: Barb - very good point in fact some do not really get in place till July 2010

Alicia Betancourt 2: And some parts not until March

Megan O'Neil-Haight: It will be the last hurrah for credit companies Barbara O'Neill: Liz has a great new SD fact sheet that fully explains the CARD Act.

Michael Gutter: Liz can you share that with us? maybe a link?

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Website is new but ask for Card Act at http://agbiopubs.sdstate.edu/

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Liz - thanks!

Alicia Betancourt 2: I have been doing radio spots for people to check their available balance because many companies have lowered them

Barbara O'Neill: Alicia: That can really lower a credit score if the available credit line is cut significantly and folks have a big balance outstanding. The credit utilization ratio gets much higher :-(

Alicia Betancourt 2: Yes and many people have gotten a nasty surprise while shopping.

Megan O'Neil-Haight: Barb or anyone do you know whether the language of VERBAL credit card/store credit card offers has been addressed at all in the new legislation?

Barbara O'Neill: Not sure. Maybe Liz would know. Doesn't all terms need to be disclosed in writing (Schumer Box), though?

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Not ALL but many terms

Megan O'Neil-Haight: I guess so, but the VERBAL often overrides anyone's look at that box (though beneficially revised by the new rules).

Megan O'Neil-Haight: In reality, it would be nice if there were standards for what is said to the customer to persuade/distract them in to a yes.

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Before the new legislation, they were required to give you a copy of the terms - even later.

Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Megan: I am not absolutely sure I was tuning into the right question while I was away hunting the URL.


BIOS

Laura Royer

Laura is Extension Faculty in Family and Consumer Sciences; she joined the University of Florida-IFAS Extension Service in September 2002. Her current responsibilities are financial management, consumer fraud and housing education. Laura’s work history includes over two years at the Osceola County Extension office, over 5 years at the Marion County Extension office and 5 years on the University of Florida’s campus in Gainesville, FL. She has received three national awards (including one for housing education efforts) and 14 state and regional awards for her work accomplishments while with Extension. She has also presented at 5 national conferences and 14 times at state conferences. Laura received a master’s degree at Iowa State University majoring in Family Financial Planning and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida’s majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences.


Alicia B. Betancourt

Alicia is an Extension Agent of Family and Community Development at the Monroe County Extension of the Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida in Key West, Florida. Alicia has been with Extension since 2006. She has an M.A. from Vermont College in Public Administration/ Sustainable Community Development and also is a CFCS (Certified Family and Consumer Science Educator) as of 2007. Her outreach areas include financial literacy, community development and green government. She is very active in her community and participates in in the advisory committee and/or board of directors for; Green Living and Energy Education (GLEE), Florida Keys Wastewater Assistance Foundation, Education Coalition of Monroe County (ECMC), Village of Islamorada; Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, Monroe County Green Initiatives Task Force, and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.


Megan O'Neil-Haight

Megan has been honored by the Maryland Association of Family and Consumer Sciences as "Extension Educator of the Year" in 2007 and again in 2009. Ms. O'Neil-Haight serves three rural counties in Maryland as Family, Youth and Communities Finance Educator. Megan’s expertise and research interests are in personal finance education across the life span, early financial literacy education in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12, rural entrepreneurship, small business management, costs of social welfare programs, and marketing not-for-profits. She serves as Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and Youth Financial Literacy subgroup leader of eXtension.org's Financial Security for All Community of Practice. Ms. O'Neil-Haight earned a Master’s Degree in Community Services Administration from Alfred University and a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Oswego.


Moderator: Dr. Michael S. Gutter

Michael Gutter is an Assistant Professor and Financial Management State Specialist, in the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, in the Institute for Food and Agriculture at the University of Florida. Gutter's BS degree is in Family Financial Management and his PhD is in Family Resource Management from The Ohio State University with a specialization in Finance. The common theme that connects Gutter's Research, Teaching, and Outreach is helping households achieve financial security. This has involved research examining how socioeconomic status, financial education, personal psychology, and financial socialization are related to financial behaviors. In the context of this model, Gutter currently explores how financial education and finanical socialization are related to financial behaviors including the effectiveness of state standards. This line of research has funding from the National Endowment for Financial Education, and the NASD Investor Education Foundation. Gutter was recently awarded the 2009 Oustanding Specialist Award by the Florida Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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