(04/30/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — Two LSU AgCenter experts offered advice for those looking to stretch their dollars amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic during a workshop April 30.
The virtual workshop, organized by the East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president’s office, also featured nationally known financial adviser Suze Orman and several other speakers.
Valerie Vincent, coordinator of family and consumer sciences for the LSU AgCenter Southeast Region, advised participants to make a budget. Whether it’s done using a digital spreadsheet or some other method doesn’t matter, she said, as long as it includes monthly net income and estimated expenses.
“That is a budget,” Vincent said. “It is that simple.”
Be sure to account for periodic expenses such as taxes, birthday and holiday gifts, vacations and insurance premiums, she said. Add them all up, divide by 12 and add that amount to the monthly budget.
For those whose income has been affected by the coronavirus situation, it’s important to decide which bills should be paid first, Vincent said. If a bill can’t be paid, contact the company or creditor to find out if a deferment or some other type of help is available.
Cutting down on food costs also can make a difference in a household budget, especially now that people — including children who may normally depend on meals provided at schools — are spending more time at home. Vincent suggested taking advantage of sales, coupons and seasonal specials; planning meals and shopping lists ahead of time; stocking up on frequently used items when they’re on sale; and checking unit pricing to get the best deal at the store.
Renee Castro, 4-H coordinator for the LSU AgCenter Southeast Region, talked about the Louisiana 4-H LYFE, or Living Your Financial Experience, program. It teaches high schoolers about budgeting, saving money, using credit cards and dealing with banks, among other financial skills.
Students complete simulations in which they have to make decisions such as choosing a car and insurance policy based on a certain salary, Castro said.
Educators and others who work with youth can contact Castro at RCastro@agcenter.lsu.edu for more information on the program.
A recording of the seminar will be posted at https://www.brla.gov/2170/Financial-Literacy-Workshops.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture