Financial

Making ends meet can be difficult and if you're like most Americans, you're living paycheck-to-paycheck. Find ways to make your dollar stretch further by avoiding unnecessary habitual purchases, find information for investment and retirement advice, guidance towards buying a car or home and many other resources. Remember, before making any major financial decisions, check with your financial institution and/or adviser to see what's best for your situation.

Becoming Financially Literate

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women partners with Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald on a free Women and Money Conference each year.

The WI$E-UP program is sponsored by the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of labor. This educational site specifically targets Generation X and Y women with a goal of promoting financial security through online education. It hopes to encourage responsible saving habits for retirement.

Iowa State University Extension Service has several useful links to help with your financial questions and concerns. It provides a helpful guide for managing the unnecessary everyday expenditures that tend to add up as we overlook them. It also provides a comprehensive discussion of life-long money management techniques including strategies for protecting oneself from online fraud and planning for retirement. Instead of letting financial strain control you, ISU Extension to Families explains how to take back control of your money.

MyMoney.gov is a government website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. The U.S. Department of Securities and Exchanges provides an outline for organizing your financial information as well as approaches to savings and investment.

The Social Security Administration has developed a helpful publication titled, "What Every Woman Should Know".

Affordable Housing and Homeownership

Visit the Iowa Finance Authority for information about affordable housing and financing options for homeownership. Their Iowa Mortgage Help project provides information specifically about avoiding home foreclosure. If you have flood-related housing concerns, the State of Iowa has instituted the Rebuild Iowa Office to help.



Kids and Financial Literacy

Teach your child about financial responsibility at a young age and they will grow into financially responsible adults. The Iowa State University Extension and the High School Planning Program website gives helpful advice on including children in family finances according to age and maturity.

The US Mint provides a fun, interactive site specifically aimed at giving kids an appreciation of the significance of US money. Its features explain the history surrounding our monetary system, including the significance of the faces on the coins, through games, cartoons and stories. The Credit Union National Association explains step-by step specific activities designed to help parents introduce their preschoolers to money basics.

Credit Repair and Avoiding Predatory Lending

We've all been there. It starts with one, seemly innocent, credit card and before you've even had time to break-in your newest pair of shoes, you've gotten yourself into financial trouble. Use the Fair Trade Commission to find resources on improving your credit and living.

Want to get out from under your debt, but aren't sure the best places to find help, or which agencies are reputable? Don't get into a bigger mess with predatory lending. Learn about this danger at the website of The US Department on Housing and Urban Development. A credible agency will be willing to help you with little to no fees attached. The wrong companies will give you empty promises and leave you in more debt than when you started. There's a reason it sounds too good to be true, it is. Learn the facts about these companies at the Center for Responsible Lending.

Simple ways to save money:

How much are you spending on the little extras in life? Little expenses like purchasing stamps, instead of paying your bills online, to stopping for your morning cup of coffee instead of bringing a mug from home add up large expenses over time. Visit Consumer Tips and Reports to find advice on controlling these often overlooked budget drains.

Once again, the Iowa State University Extension website lists ideas for conserving resources to save money throughout the year. Find ideas on everything from recycling your junk mail, to brown bagging your lunch, to reusing everyday items. Because they seem like common sense, we tend to forget about the easy ways to save money.

The Iowa Utilities Board explains the tricks to saving money by conserving energy. For example, changing from traditional incandescent light bulbs to an environmentally friendly compact fluorescent bulb can save 75% of the energy used over the bulbs lifetime when compared to the energy used by traditional incandescent bulbs.

Living without heat in harsh Iowa winters puts families in potentially life-threatening situations. If essential utilities unaffordable remain unaffordable despite energy saving strategies that may reduce the cost of utilities, turn to The Iowa Department of Human Rights: Bureau of Energy Assistance for information.