Real Money, Real Experts

Life Long Learning: Financial Education for All Ages with Ann House, AFC®

May 25, 2021 AFCPE® Season 1 Episode 27
Real Money, Real Experts
Life Long Learning: Financial Education for All Ages with Ann House, AFC®
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Real Money, Real Experts co-host Dr. Mary Bell Carlson speaks with Ann House, MS, CPFC, CEPF, AFC®, founder of the Personal Money Management Center, a resource for students at the University of Utah. In 2015, the center received the Outstanding Financial Counseling Center award from AFCPE®.


In the interview, the two discuss Ann's financial education journey, private practice, and having money conversations with your children.  Ann's goal is to help students to learn to become savvy consumers every step along the way.

 
 
 Show Notes:

00:24 Ann Introduction

02:01 Ann’s Journey to the field of finance

06:52 Personal Finance and Higher Education

11:00 Development of PowerPay

13:09 Using PowerPay

16:23 Ann’s Private Practice

19:07 Women and Personal Finance

24:04 Teaching your Children About Money

28:21 AFCPE® Awards: Recognizing Excellence

30:34 Ann’s Two Cents

            

 Show Note links:

Power Pay: https://extension.usu.edu/powerpay/

University of Utah’s’ Financial Wellness Center: https://financialwellness.utah.edu/

Ann’s Private Practice: https://annhousefinancialcounselor.com/

AFCPE Awards Nominations: https://www.afcpe.org/career-and-resource-center/awards/

EMAIL: [email protected]



Intro:

Welcome to Real Money, Real Experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® or AFCPE®. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an Accredited Financial Counselor®, or AFC®, and the CEO of Chief Financial Mom. Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topics that the personal finance professionals care about: helping clients, building community and your professional growth.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Welcome everyone to the real money, real experts podcast. I'm Mary and Rebecca is out this week. Today on the show, we are talking with Ann House. Ann is the director of the University of Utah's Financial Wellness Center. And she's a fellow AFC. She's been an educator and a consumer advocate for 25 years. She's a professional speaker featured in several publications and most recently seen in Forbes and has received numerous state and national awards. Her collaborative project and online debt reduction calculator called powerpay.org is used throughout the world and is endorsed by the US military and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education®. During the last few years, she has worked with the Utah State Legislator and the Utah Department of Education to establish a required general financial literacy course for high school. A little known fact about her is she's an amateur astronomer, and I just found out she's also been an elementary school teacher. Ann I'm so excited to talk to you today. Welcome to the show.

Ann House:

Well, thank you, Mary. Thank you for inviting me. I'm excited to be here.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

So tell us more about your background a nd your story. How did you get into this field?

Ann House:

Oh, it's a little unbelievably so. I just sort of fell into it. I went to college , in the seventies and I was very unprepared for college right out of high school. And I got very discouraged. I had gone for about four years and still hadn't gotten my degree. So I dropped out thinking, well, I'll go back in , in a couple of years. But in the meantime I had gotten married, had three children and it wasn't until I was widowed at the age of 33 that , I had to start taking finances very seriously. And that, of course, in compass getting a job that paid enough to support myself and my three children. So I taught elementary school for a while as a long-term substitute teacher, fourth grade and sixth grades. I did that for about five years , when my children were still quite young,. but then I decided I better go back to school. I've just got to get that bachelor's degree. And so I enrolled at the University of Utah and I got my bachelor's degree in human development. Because I had been teaching for so many years and the department needed a instructor to teach personal finances, they said if I wanted to go to grad school I could get a tuition waiver if I taught for them. And that wasn't even on my mind early on, but I thought this is something I can't pass up getting a master's degree. I love teaching. And so , so I worked for the university as adjunct and got my master's degree in what was called human ecology at the time. I didn't quite know what I was going to do with the financial side of it until I started kind of getting into doing some research. and personal finances, I mean, this was 25 years ago, was sort of just becoming a thing , consumer awareness, budgeting, saving, investing. And so that is the direction that I took and , got a job with Cooperative Extension after I graduated.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

What a fascinating story. Tell me, are you self-taught then, or did you actually take classes in personal finance?

Ann House:

Not really. I mean, in, in grad school, we didn't have really those classes. I had some on public policy of course, on statistics and, you know, how to, how to do research. But it was mostly the classes that I was teaching to undergrads, which was personal finance. So pretty much self-taught. AFCPE® of course helped so much when I decided to get my A FC® accreditation. But, you know, it was so early on that there weren't a lot of classes at the time. So I read, formed relationships with people that knew more than I did.

:

Ann one of the things that I love about you and your story is that you are a lifelong learner. You take challenges head on and you do them. And it seems like a fun thing that you've continued that learning in various ways throughout your life. You said that you were also an amateur astronomer. Will you continue that story and tell us how you got into that as well?

Ann House:

Again, I just sort of fell into it. I grew up in the Washington DC area. My father worked for the federal government , the , interior department , the national park service. And, you know, and in the 1960s, even in Washington DC, you, you could see a few stars and my father would point them out to me late at night, but we traveled. We went to the national parks. All seven of us would pile into the old Ford station wagon every summer, and we would visit national parks. And , I remember being in Utah, 10 years old, and noticing the sky at Bryce Canyon. And I'd never seen anything so gorgeous. I never seen such dark black skies and so many stars. I mean, my dad was lost and visiting these national parks in Utah's Zion, Bryce , Moab , Capitol Reef, I thought I'm going to live there someday. I got to learn the names of these stars and to know my way around.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Tell Us more about your role as the Director of Financial Wellness Center at the University of Utah.

Ann House:

Okay. So I had been working with Cooperative Extension. I'd been there for about 11 years. I was a financial management statewide agent, and I loved that. I went around to all the different counties setting up some personal financial classes, workshops, Vita , for taxes. And then the University of Utah in , the year 2000, was going to start a Student Money Management Center. This is when the Student Money Management Centers at universities were just starting to get going. I heard about the job, applied for it, and I was selected. I was a financial counselor at the time. I did have a different accreditation, but it was , after I became Director of the Financial Wellness Center that I sought out AFCPE®. And 11 years ago, I only had a couple of other Student Money Management Centers to take a look at. So I looked at what they were doing. And I think just because I've been with Cooperative Extension and had been teaching, I kind of knew what was needed at the university. I knew that this one-on-one was needed. I knew that through my , my experience with, with counseling one-on-one, you know, classes are great. Workshops are fabulous, but everybody has their own story. And so, but that one-on-one, they're able to tell their story. And as a counselor, you're able to talk to them on what they're working through and work with them. I also knew that education and information , was very important. I started writing up all these fact sheets, which are just these small, you know, eight by three inch fact sheets that I populated my office with and other resources around campus. For example, for the financial aid office, I did a fact sheet that was, y ou k now, three ways to pay for school. I had seen so many students that came into my office and i t's, y ou k now, i t was kind of like, well, this semester starting and I , I don't have money for school. And they look at me like, you know, I'm going to pull money out of my drawer or something and give it to them. So, so that was one of the fact sheets. I did, you know, three ways to pay for school. First way is free money. You know, look for those grants. Look for those scholarships. The second way was your money. Anything that you have saved. Anything that you can save working, for example, work-study, getting some money from, from parents. And then the third way to pay for college is borrowed money. And so you would have to start looking at loans to make up the difference between the free money and your money. So that's k inda how I got started working with, with the other departments in student affairs. Another thing I think that really brought attention to my office was I carried with me that IRS certification that I renew every year. And I would help students with their taxes. And do you know, students. A nd, and most of them w ere, I know at my university, we've got about 80% of our students that work, at least part-time. So even helping them do their taxes and understanding their taxes, these students would walk away with one to $3,000. And that goes a l ong way with paying for, y ou k now, upcoming semesters. So that's how we got going, where in 11 years now, I started off with one student intern. I now have about nine with a graduate assistant a nd, I enjoy my job very, very much.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

That's so great. And I understand that you also helped start PowerPay. So tell us how you created PowerPay. Kind of tell us the whole process of that.

Ann House:

Well, Dean Miner , who is an extension agent, he still works with Utah State Extension. He developed PowerPay before I got there, but what he and I did together is we put it online. It was on a , you know, a disc at the time, you know, we're , we're talking a good 20 some years ago. And so what we did was we put it online and made it accessible to everybody. And we put a lot of bells and whistles on it, a lot of different calculators , education information. And I, I use that so often. I use it with students now I'm helping them repay their student loans. I can use it to show students what, you know, starting to invest and save how that's going to build. So that's how we got started. And , and it's really become a wonderful tool that I use with our graduate students who are leaving the university with, you know, a hundred thousand, $300,000 in debt, if they're going into the medical field or the law school field. And , and it really gives them light at the end of the tunnel of it's okay, I'm going to be able to pay this debt off if I stick to this budget plan.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

PowerPay is an incredible resource for any of you listeners out there that have not utilized it yet. It's something that I have used for years. And many of you have used as well. It really helps visualize, and it gives you many different options. It's not a one only method, but it really empowers, I feel like the client. But I feel like it's also a little deceptive because it's not just for debt reduction. There's so many other components of PowerPay. And could you walk us through a few of the other components, Ann, that are on that website and how to utilize those?

Ann House:

Yes, for example, if you have a credit card that you don't have to start paying on. And I, and I do work with a lot of staff and faculty. I also have a private business where I see clients in the evening and they often have a lot of debt and collections. But you know , sometimes they have rolled money over to a 0% interest card, or I suggest that maybe that's an option that they have so that they can get caught up on their bills. And so PowerPay lets you , you know , extend that repayment. It's a repayment calculator. So, you know , you can put in all your debts, including this card , that you don't have to start paying on until, you know, 18 months you can put in your student loan debt. And I use this for students as they start collecting student loans, let's put it into this calculator. And even though it doesn't come due until let's say February 2023, you can still put that into PowerPay. So you get this really good idea of what debt you're collecting or what debt that you have to pay off. And what you do is after you input all this information, you can get a Excel spreadsheet that says, you know, okay, here's, here's June 2021, pay this on this bill, this on this bill. July 2021, pay this, pay this, pay this, or it extends it out until the student graduates. But if you keep to that, you can get all your debts paid off by X date. But it also shows you that if you can find your budget, and this is why having a budget is so important, that if you can find an extra $20 a month, $50 a month, a hundred dollars a month and put that towards your debt, and you know, your highest interest rate first, this is going to get it paid off the quickest, how much money that can save you in interest and how much quicker you can get out of debt. So you can turn a ten-year loan into a five-year loan just by adding a few extra dollars each month. It's very interactive. It's very educational. It teaches the client so much about managing your money, having that budget. And this is how you're going to pay off your debt. And yes, it's little by little, month after month, but Hey, you know, that's how we've accumulated this debt. Little by little, over a course of time. And so this is how we're going to pay it off too , but just keep at it.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And I feel like that's the part that's so empowering. Is it doesn't have to be a lot of money. It's just little bits by little bits. And yet the thing I like about PowerPay is really the visual that shows how impactful even small amounts can be in so many ways.

Ann House:

Use it with your clients who say, you know, I've been paying on this student loan for years and I'm not making a dent, put it into PowerPay. And as you said, Mary, it's this visual that yes, you are making a dent and this is when it's going to get paid off.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

So Ann you just told me something we didn't know about you. You mentioned you have your own business. We have a lot of listeners that are interested in either starting their own business or maybe have a small business. So would you share with us what your business looks like and how you help clients?

Ann House:

Yes. If anyone is associated with the University of Utah , including , staff and faculty, I will see them in , in my office at the university. But if it's the general public , I was, I mean, I just know that a lot of people need this kind of help. And I thought, well, I'll just start up this little business and see how it goes. I started at about a year before COVID hit. I use a friend's office. He is a family counselor and he doesn't use his office in the evenings. So he said I could, you know, use his office in the evenings. I got a website , developed a little simple website and just started advertising my website and my services. And then COVID hit, I've still been busy. I do that now through Zoom, which works out quite well. Cause I can see people who, who don't live in Salt Lake and don't want to drive. I, I think when I started, I thought I would be seeing a lot of maybe low to moderate income folks, but that hasn't been the case. Most my clients are quite wealthy and have trouble managing their money. Have quite a bit of debt, which those of us that are in the field are not surprised by that. You know, you, you kind of spend everything that you have. Most people do, no matter how much you make. Another surprising fact for me is many, if not, most of my clients come to me from Certified Financial Planners® , their referrals . So certified financial planners are seeing people who are not ready to invest because they don't understand the basics of money management. They don't have a savings account. They don't have a budget. They don't know how much they can put towards investing each month. So there's this real connection between CFP® and AFC®. if I could do it all over again, I might get that CFP® as well. In the department I still teach. I teach a tax class and a counseling class. And I do tell my students, you know, get that CFP® and that AFC®, if you'd like to. Because they both are so needed and they both work so well together.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Ann let's switch gears a little bit. You are passionate about the importance of women setting good financial behaviors. Can you tell us more about that?

Ann House:

Yes. I will Mary. My passion came from being widowed at , at a very young age. I was 33 years old. I had three children. They were two years old, five and eight. My husband was a police officer who was shot and killed in line of duty. He was 35 years old and you know, we'd only been married , just shy of 11 years and we hadn't really talked and , and done a lot of financial , you know , planning at, at that age. And so I was really left with just a tiny amount of, of life insurance. Some bills, we had just built a home. I think I had a couple of dollars in the bank and you know, and then , the paychecks ended , two weeks after his death. So I quickly had to jump into learning about finances and really understanding, from a woman's perspective, being at home with the kids and you know, thinking well, you know, my husband is, is tending to that. He goes to the credit union and he's looking out for us. And we'll get together one of these days and, and figure things out. I did get some money after he died from, from insurance. I quickly paid off the car cause I didn't want to have that payment. Only to find out later that a death benefit at the credit union would have paid off the car, but of course they didn't tell me that. So that was a $6,000 mistake. You know, and , and there were mistakes like that because no one really jumped in and told me, hey, this is a death benefit. Hey, this is what you have. It was all this consumer action on my part. And that really taught me to be a consumer advocate. And I think as I teach personal finances now, it's more about teaching people to advocate for themselves. And yes, you don't have a lot of money. You need to see me about some debts that you have. So I'm not going to charge you an arm and a leg. I may see you for free, but what I want to teach you is to advocate for yourself. It was hard. It was hard at the time, but it got me to get that degree. It got me to a job where I could earn enough money to support us. Because I could see women in my situation. And, and over the years I've seen so many women in this situation , who don't jump on it soon enough and don't start advocating for themselves. And, and, and so this women and money really has become this, this passion of mine. I worked very closely with the Women's Resource Center at the University of Utah. And these are women that, you know, are in abusive relationships , for example. And you know , their husbands control them with money , or they leave their husband and they are just destitute with not a dime in the world. And so money is very, very important to women. There's been some studies that it takes women two years longer to repay student loan debt than it does men . Because we do get paid less than men do. I teach classes at the university. I teach classes in the community on a salary negotiation for women. We really do need to negotiate our salary. I see, nowadays, I see widows that can't even get into their bank accounts and their, you know, their financial information because they don't know the usernames and passwords, right. Their husband knew that. So I see for women the real key to not being dependent, the real key to having choices in life is finances. Having some money, having savings, investing. Having a say in your partnership of how to spend, how to save, how to invest, how to repay debt.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

You know, you have another interesting perspective Ann., And that is as a mother, as a parent. And you mentioned that you have a story about the importance of sticking to a budget. Would you tell us a little bit about that story and why it matters as a parent?

Ann House:

Yes, I did teach my children , as, as we were going through all of this , you know, I wanted them to be kids and not think, you know, my oldest is a son that, you know, he had to be the dad in the family. But I did involve my children early on , with, with money. For example , we would go to Dinosaur Land on the weekend and we had X number of dollars with us. And so I would say to the kids, it's our last day here at, at Dinosaur National Monument, we've got $15 left. Do you want to go to the museum where it's going to cost , you know, $3 each, or do you want to go to Pizza Hut and, and , you know, get dinner. And, and so, you know, they would choose the museum. I remember it , they did choose the museum in this case. But , and, and so just by involving them, letting them make those choices, right, they were much happier at the museum than they would have been, if I had just said, we're going to the museum. And then we stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few snacks for the trip home. And so they didn't fuss about not getting the pizza. So I started off early on , like that. Now the , the story that really emphasized to me how important it is to have budgets in life is my son , was married, but still is married, but he got married to , to this wonderful student that he met at the university from Brazil. And her parents were coming to visit for the first time. They had bought this, this home and she wanted to fix it up a little bit before her parents came. They hadn't been to the US before. And there was this patch of lawn between their driveway and the neighbor's fence. And she asked if I could landscape that. I said, I'd be happy to landscape that, you know, be so pretty. And so she said , that they budgeted a hundred dollars for this. And I went to their house. She gave me a hundred dollars. And I'm thinking that is not enough. That is not enough money, this is a big area. I'll just do, you know, I'll just go to the nursery and I'll buy what I, what we need to fill up that spot and whatever it goes beyond a hundred dollars, I'll just pay for it. And, and I loaded up my cart and it just came back to me what my daughter-in-law said. She said, we budgeted a hundred dollars, for this, and I don't want you to spend any more because this is our budget. Please keep to our budget. And so I put everything away. I grabbed one of the gardeners and he was able to help me pick out some things that were fast growing . And I spent just a few pennies under a hundred dollars. And when I came home, she was, or when I came back to their home, she was so happy that I had respected their budget. And that was a good lesson to me. I mean, I already knew how important budgets were, but it's , it's a good lesson from a parent perspective. Just the importance of budgets.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Well, and I think respecting in this case, the client or the child or whomever. I hear this so often of, oh, if they just had more money, this problem would be fixed or something. And it's really not about that. It's allowing them the freedom, whether it be the client, the child, the spouse, giving them the freedom to create boundaries and respect those boundaries and allow them to do with it. And that sometimes means making mistakes, but allow them to make those mistakes and learn those lessons that are needed, even when those are really hard. And that's really what I hear in that story is you respected her as an individual, not just as a daughter-in-law. But you've respected her and her own boundaries, and it gave her power and a sense of fulfillment.

Ann House:

Thank you for that perspective, Mary

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Now , Ann, you have served several times on the AFCPE® awards Taskforce, and as we enter the award season, will you share more with us about that experience and the value of nominating a colleague or your own work for recognition in the field?

Ann House:

I think it's very important to have friends like you in the community, right. And our community with AFCPE® is, is nationwide. And I see all these wonderful things that my colleagues are doing, and I want to recognize the good work that they are doing, because it helps us all , you know. And, and from an outside perspective, you know, if I nominate another Student Money Management Center, it provides that credibility, that endorsement, that this is a group of people that are doing wonderful, wonderful things. It recognizes excellence in the field. And then from a , an internal perspective, it feels good. It's something that I can use to justify the money that I'm getting either from grants or from the university. It also, I don't know, it motivates me to continue to learn, to continue that excellence in my field. And for my staff and my student interns that work in the office, it gives them kind of this sense of satisfaction too . Like, oh my goodness, I'm working at this national recognized office. So it's been good for me. And I just want to recognize the good work that other people do in the field because we all benefit.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. And we will connect in the show notes where you can go ahead and recognize and nominate either yourself or colleagues, because we do want to recognize your work. And I think it's a very motivating force too . When you see achievements and able to receive that recognition. Well , Ann, at the end of each interview, we like to get the guests two cents or biggest takeaways for our listeners. If you had one piece of advice to offer other financial professionals, what would it be?

Ann House:

It would be that , finances is about change. It's about changing bad habits. It's about setting good habits. It's about , learning better behaviors, but it's hard. I don't know that there's anything harder than, than changing habits, but if you work small and especially kind of worked from the bottom up , I had been working with a woman who, who wasn't able to work anymore due to an injury. And she was all alone, no children. I mean, she didn't have a safety net. She needed to make more money. But you know, what was stopping her was not being able to get an operation that she needed so that she could work again. And what was stopping her from getting this operation was the doctor told her she needed to lose about 20 pounds before they could operate on her. And so, you know, everything, her, her whole financial future, retirement and everything depended on her being able to work again. And I had to work with her to set goals, to lose weight so she could get the operation so that she could sit and stand and be able to provide for herself again. So we've got to change and let's do it step by step , start from the bottom up and really look to see what it is that is getting in the way of financial success.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. What a great example of how integrated finances are in our everyday lives. It's not just about money, it's about livelihood and the way people feel about themselves and about others. Thank you so much for joining us today, Ann. I really enjoyed my conversation today with Ann. She is such a plethora of knowledge. She has done so many things, and I really think she's a tremendous example of lifelong learning and really quite advanced learning in so many different areas. She has done so many things and at a very young age, met crisis head on and has become better from it. I'm just tremendously impressed with her story and how she's rebounded from difficult experiences. I think that can be such a lesson to all of us, especially during these difficult times of COVID and what we're all going through in a worldwide pandemic to be able to be resilient and bounce back from adversity. It's not even bounced back. I should really say that it's really getting to the heart of, of getting what your needs are and connecting it. And Ann was able to do that in his thrived from it. I really like how she takes difficult concepts and simplifies them down and you can hear it, in her voice, like so many of the AFCs that I have met is that she wants to help. And she has that desire to help. In fact, she even said, I don't want to turn anyone away. And I know that so many of you are feeling the same way and want to do that. And so I applaud you. I applaud all that you're doing to help others in financial crisis, or maybe some other type of crisis. As she's mentioned, finances impact so many parts of our lives and is so difficult to get through sometimes or even uncover what the real root of the issue is. And so with that, I applaud each of you for the work that you were doing and want to conclude with an encouragement to go nominate yourself or a colleague for something that you were doing and doing well. We want to recognize the work that you are doing in the field. And the more we hear these stories, the more that we can get it out to others and help others know not just what they're doing, but be able to model. I think Ann was a great example of that, that she's doing so many different things. And maybe there's some modeling that you've learned today, where you could build your business or consider helping someone in a different way that you were before.

Outro:

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