Learn to budget your money through new program

By: 
Monika Spaulding, Digital Editor

Helping people budget money and learn their spending habits is the goal of a new class being offered through Washington County Purdue Extension. Joni Muchler, the Purdue Washington County extension director, will teach the course on “Where Does Your Money Go?”

The class will be held at the Salem Public Library June 11 and 18 at 10 a.m.

This is a free, one-hour long program open to anyone who would like help with budgeting their money.

If people are interested, but can’t do the day meeting, evening classes will be offered July 18 and 25 at 5 p.m. at the library.

Muchler said this is a state-wide program and she is excited to offer it to Washington County. It is one of Purdue Extension’s signature programs, which means they collect information from around the state and are able to use that data for programming.

“It’s a very interactive class with handouts,” she said. “It’s not just me talking the whole time.”

The goal is to identify spending links and then look at the big picture.

“It helps people see how small purchases really add up.”

The group will play a game that helps them identify financial priorities as well: your needs verses your wants.

At the end of the first meeting, participants will get an envelope to track spending for a week until the next meeting.

“Session two is a follow up to look at how spending went,” said Muchler. “We set smart goals, look at future wants vs needs and how to set goals to reach them.”

She said participants will also learn to set a spending budget.

When looking at state data, Muchler said in 2016-17, 810 families participated in the money program. The average discovered they spent $1,461 in spending links, little things they didn’t even realize they were spending money on that added up.

From session one to session two, the median amount of money saved was $100. In a follow up survey, participants reported reducing debt up to $3,000 by being more conscious of their spending habits.

“I feel like this program is a real need in our area,” said Muchler. 

In addition to doing the program for the community, she is also teaching it at the domestic violence shelter and on a smaller scale for the CAST summer programming for middle school students.

Those interested may call the extension office at 812.883.4601 or email Muchler at jmuchler@purdue.edu to register.

“I’m really excited about this program!” she said.

Walking Club

Another class Muchler is looking forward to starting again is the walking club. She originally brought the program to the county three years ago.

“It is one of the things I am most proud of and enjoy the most,” she said.

Muchler originally started the club because she felt if people had a partner to walk with and people to hold them accountable they would be more likely to stick with it.

“As an extension educator, it is our job to meet the needs in the community,” she said. “I feel this is a need.”

The original club was a three-week program where the group met Monday through Friday and walked for 30 minutes at the walking trail. She said the average was nine to 10 people for the program.

“Everyone walks at their own pace, but we start together and end together at the same spot,” she said. She also tries to tie in an educational component with tips and advice on walking. 

She recently received a $300 grant from GKN to help support the program, so the first 10 people to sign up got a free gift. She has seen new names on the sign up list and is looking forward to meeting new people and seeing familiar faces that have joined her in walking the last few years.

“Everyone is invited to join us,” she said. “We’ve had strollers, dogs, bikes, etc.”

The program starts June 11 at 6 p.m. They will meet at the Salem Middle School parking lot by Brock Creek. The group will meet two nights a week: Monday and Thursday. If it gets too hot, Muchler said the time may move to 7 p.m.

“It is fun!” she said. “I’ve made friends three years ago that I am still friends with today.”

She encourages anyone interested to just sign up, there are no guidelines or requirements.

Those interested may call the extension office at 812.883.4601 or email Muchler at jmuchler@purdue.edu to register.

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