Missouri: Ozark Residents Take Action to Improve Money Skills

January 01, 2001

Several years ago, Ozark Action Inc., a community action agency serving the south central Ozark region in Missouri, began conducting basic budgeting workshops as part of its life skills training program. The goal of the workshop is to teach adults how to manage money so they can pay not only for living expenses, but also for other family needs and wants. Its audience consists of residents of a surrounding six-county area who could benefit from learning basic math and budget skills.

The workshop is designed as a one-time six-hour session taught by a staff member from Consumer Credit Counseling Service. Participants generally have low or moderate incomes and a desire to improve their money management skills. There is no cost to attend the basic budgeting workshop. In fact, the program offers a small financial incentive to those who attend.

"The program is funded with a federal Community Services Block Grant, which even allows us to offer students a small $13 stipend to pay for transportation, child care or other expenses," said Ozark Action Inc. staff member Angie Berry.

A test is given before and after the workshop to help determine what students learn and how they may better apply budgeting skills. Berry said there is a noticeable improvement in post-test knowledge and skills.

Workshop participants benefit in other ways, too. At tax time, for example, they can have their tax returns completed for free. The intention is that they will budget for any refunds and use the money wisely.

For more information about Ozark Action Inc., contact Berry at (417) 256-7318.

Bridges is a regular review of regional community and economic development issues. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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