2003 – Wausau Area Financial Education (Home Buyer Education)
WHEDA, Catholic Charities, UW Extension and the City of Wausau Community Development started conversations with concerns for offering home buyer education. In working together we thought classroom education would be a benefit for all agencies. In time management, this meant those individuals that wanted/needed more personalized would work with the agency designed for the appropriate service or counseling.
The Home Buyer program was modeled after the program WHEDA has done in Milwaukee since the 1990’s. This would then include the local government, financial institutions, Realtors and housing related professionals to become involved in the education process. As we worked together, we became aware of other financial needs and how we can work together. We named ourselves the Wausau Area Financial Education Group.
As interest grew to provide additional financial education programming, Money Smart program was introduced. This was a 10 module program with topics from banking, checking accounts, credit cards, borrowing basics and types of loans, credit and credit reports, personal budgets, savings, home buying, consumer rights and other financial decisions. As programming was being offered additional community partners joined us. Over the next few years, our membership grew to include other business partners that had an interest in the financial health of our community. We changed our name to Get Smart Wausau.
The Federal Reserve and Department of Financial Institutions began an initiative called Money Smart Week WI. This concept was started in most areas as a city initiative but WI attempted to take it state wide offering free financial education opportunities sponsored through local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Get Smart Wausau area was one of the first 12 teams participating Money Smart Week in Wisconsin.
Get Smart Wausau and Asset Builders teamed together to offering a program called the Money Conference. Asset Builders is the lead nonprofit organization and offers this program in seven locations throughout Wisconsin. The Money Conference is held on a Saturday that offers approximately 30 different topics related to personal finance. The programs are slated for all people ages beginning at age 6. The topics range from personal budgets, managing credit, investments, home buying, nutrition & menu planning, employment strategies or other topics related to finances.
We continue to offer programming for financial education. The collaboration has grown with a core of volunteers for various programs. From our programming, we offer 3 classroom home buyer programs, 10 monthly budgeting programs, GetChecking on an as needed basis, the annual Money Conference and we participate as a team for Money Smart Week activities.