Jeanette A. Tucker, Claesgens, Mark A.
BATON ROUGE – The LSU AgCenter introduced a financial education program for K-12 school system employees at a financial educators’ summit April 27.
The program called SAIL, Saving and Investing for Life, will be offered across the state to educators and support staff, according to LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker, program coordinator.
"Youth are not our only concern when it comes to teaching money management," said Tucker, who also is vice president of the coalition of 50 Louisiana organizations that conducts the Jump$tart financial literacy program aimed at kindergarten through college-level students.
Tucker addressed the coalition during their summit meeting at the conclusion of the national Jump$tart Your Money week.
"Research tells us that up to 60 percent of American workers suffer from severe financial distress," Tucker said.
SAIL predicts returns to school systems of up to $2,024 for each employee who successfully completes the program and adopts the practices emphasized through the training. "That’s good news for administrators, who are always attuned to the bottom line," Tucker said. A pre-test and post-test followed by a telephone survey six months later will determine progress.
Tucker called studies about financial distress alarming. Up to half the employees with such stress spend about 20 hours per month dealing with money matters at work. Up to 80 percent worry about and deal with personal finances instead of working. Up to half report their health is jeopardized over financial worries and problems. In some cases, financially troubled employees are involved in threats of violence at the workplace.
Decline in worker productivity is estimated conservatively to be 30 percent of salary. Poor employee financial literacy costs a school system at least $750 per employee per year.
"Financial education can turn these facts around," Tucker said. The potential first-year health-related savings alone is more than $400 per employee. The long-term return is at least 300 percent, in which each $1invested in financial literacy yields $3 in return.
"This program can help employees develop skills to make informed choices and take action to improve their financial well-being," Tucker said.
The free training covers six major topics: (1) developing and using a saving and spending plan; (2) finding money to save and invest; (3) setting financial goals; (4) understanding and selecting the best investment options; (5) identifying appropriate help for financial management; and (6) avoiding investment fraud.
School administrators can expect to see improvements in several areas, such as fewer wage garnishments, reduced turnover, fewer workers’ compensation claims, reduced health care demands, fewer accidents, reduced legal liability on 403(b) plans and less absenteeism and short-term disability.
SAIL was developed and will be implemented by the LSU AgCenter’s team of financial educators. The program is made possible by a generous contribution from the NASD Investor Education Foundation.
Information about SAIL is available from local LSU AgCenter parish offices and the AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com.