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Family Economics News National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA March 2010

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) works with land-grant university partners and others to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities through national program leadership and federal assistance. Among the agency’s goals is to support increased economic opportunities and quality of life in rural areas. Family economics aligns with this goal by focusing on how individuals and families obtain and use resources such as money, time, human capital, material resources, and community services; by exploring the relationship between individuals and families and the larger economy; and by studying the impact of public issues, policies, and programs on family economic well-being.

Back issues of Family Economics News are available. To submit items for consideration for this newsletter, contact Jim Terry, NIFA program analyst.

Research/Program Evaluation

  • Measuring the Impact of Web-based Learning Materials

  • Consumer Accuracy in Judgments about Credit Ratings


  • New on eXtension: Broad-based Social Media Strategies

  • Extension Major Partner for America Saves


  • AARP Materials for Financial Professionals

  • New Credit Card Protections

  • Labor Force Participation


  • Call for Papers:

    • Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal

    • Journal of Consumer Affairs

    • Journal of Personal Finance

    • Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning

    • The Journal of Youth Development

    • Journal of Family and Economic Issues

    • W.K. Kellogg Foundation/Family Income and Assets

    • 2010 AFCPE Conference

    • The Journal of Consumer Affairs

    • The Journal of Business Venturing & University of Alberta

  • Funding:


    • FINRA Investor Education Foundation

    • Investment Company Institute

    • National Endowment for Financial Education

    • MMI Financial Education Foundation




Measuring the Impact of Web-based Learning Materials

Measuring the impact of Web-based learning materials is a relatively new science; however, the ability to track the use of Web pages and adapt content to user interests is very important in improving the quality of the materials and their impact. Google Analytics is one option for evaluating Web-based information and it is the one primarily used by eXtension. The following three recordings of eXtension 30-minute professional development sessions can help you learn more about Google Analytics:
Introduction to Google Analytics -
Evaluate Your Content with Google Analytics -
Advanced Google Analytics -

Consumer Accuracy in Judgments about Credit Ratings

A study in the Journal of Consumer Affairs (Perry, V. G. (2008), Is Ignorance Bliss? Consumer Accuracy in Judgments about Credit Ratings, The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 42(2), Summer, 189-205) examines the accuracy of consumers self-assessments of their credit ratings. Findings suggest that approximately 32 percent of consumers overestimate their credit ratings, while only 4 percent underestimate them. Those who overestimate their credit ratings are less knowledgeable about financial matters, are more likely to have acquired their financial knowledge from difficult past experiences, and are less likely to budget, save or invest regularly.

Implications of the study include: Over-estimating one's credit rating can lead to disappointing results; policymakers and consumer advocates should encourage consumers to take advantage of the FACT act by obtaining their credit report on a regular basis; and improving knowledge about one's own credit ratings is related to general knowledge of financial and economic principles as well as financial behaviors, such as saving and investing.

Similar research briefs are available in eXtension's Financial Security for All Web site. The briefs contain citations and, when available, the link to the complete article.



New on eXtension: Broad-based Social Media Strategies

The Financial Security for All (FSA) Community of Practice (COP) is expanding its use of broad-based social media strategies to encourage informed, positive consumer and financial decisions. FSA has begun sending tweets on financial topics using Twitter. The 9 COP members who create material have sent 101 tweets. There are 58 followers for moneyeXtension. The FSA COP also has a Facebook page and plans to increase its social media and networking outreach. Contact Barb O'Neill for Twitter tips or Michael Ravenscraft to volunteer for the FSA COP Twitter committee.

Extension Major Partner for America Saves

Extension educators across the country are wrapping up America Saves Week 2010 with creative marketing and financial educational events. Local and statewide Saves campaigns in more than 25 states helped families cope with uncertain economic times by conducting workshops, legislative events, piggy bank pageants, and media campaigns. Financial education opportunities were offered at tax preparation sites, shopping malls, colleges, and high school basketball games.

Please report any financial education activities conducted during, leading up to, or after America Saves Week by April 2. Encourage your local and state partners to report their participation as well. Visit the NIFA Web site to view America Saves Week resources. The Consumer Federation of America provided Saves Week grants to 27 extension-led Saves campaigns.


AARP Materials for Financial Professionals

AARP has introduced a new page on its Web site specifically designed for financial professionals who work with older consumers. The goal is to help financial professionals and those who supervise them in ways that benefit both consumers over 50 and the industry a win-win situation for all. Visit the new Web site page and see the latest release, A Financial Professional's Guide to Conducting Seminars with Older Investors, produced in cooperation with the North American Securities Administrators Association.

New Credit Card Protections

The Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Board launched a new interactive Web site to help consumers better understand the new credit card protections that took effect on February 22. These rules ban several harmful practices and require greater transparency in the disclosure of the terms and conditions of credit card accounts. The site summarizes the main provisions of the new rules and explains how they will affect credit card users.

Important features of the Web site include:

  • basic facts about common credit card options, interest rates, and fees;
  • interactive features that allow consumers to learn more about credit card offers and the new features of their monthly statements;
  • an online credit card repayment calculator that provides estimates of how long it will take to pay off a credit card balance and help consumers develop a plan for paying off their balance sooner;
  • a glossary of common credit card terms for quick reference;
  • a list of federal credit protection laws; and
  • links to resources for consumers who are experiencing problems with their accounts, such as the 5-Tips consumer publication series (available Spanish).

The board will continue to build the site during the coming months to include additional credit card information, features, and Spanish translations. The Web address for the Federal Reserve's guide to credit cards will appear on the solicitations consumers receive from credit card issuers. Visit the Web site for more information, including official press releases.

Labor Force Participation

The Employee Benefits Research Institute recently released data, Labor Force Participation: The Population Age 55 and Over: 2008.

The Near-Elderly and Elderly Are Staying in the Work Force Longer. The labor force participation rate is increasing for those ages 55 and older. The percentage of civilian non-institutionalized Americans age 55 or older who were in the labor force declined from 34.6 percent 1975 to 29.4 percent in 1993. However, since 1993, the labor force participation rate has steadily increased, reaching 39.4 percent in 2008—the highest level over the 1975–2008 period.

Women Are the Driving Force for Longer Participation in the Work Force. For those ages 55–64 (the near-elderly), this is being driven almost exclusively by the increase of women in the work force; the male participation rate is flat to declining. However, among those ages 65 and older (the elderly), labor-force participation is increasing for both males and females.

Education a Major Factor. Education is a strong factor in an individual’s participation in the labor force at older ages; those with higher levels of education are significantly more likely to be in the labor force than those with lower levels of education.

Trend Will Continue Upward. This upward trend among the working near-elderly and elderly is not surprising and is likely to continue because of workers’ need for access to employment-based health insurance and for more earning years to accumulate assets in defined contribution (401(k)-type) plans—especially after the 2008 downturn in the stock market and economy. Many Americans also want to work longer, especially among those with more education.



Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal (open submissions)

Journal of Consumer Affairs (Open submissions)

Journal of Personal Finance (Open submissions)

Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning (Open submissions) 

The Journal of Youth Development (Open submissions) 

Journal of Family and Economic Issues (Open submissions) 

W.K. Kellogg Foundation/Family Income and Assets (Open submissions)

2010 AFCPE Conference November 17-19.  Proposals due May 28 (Research, Practioners’ Forum, Poster, or Student Paper). Guidelines: Invitation to Present. Conference submissions must be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word format.

The Journal of Consumer Affairs, deadline for submissions June 15.  

The Journal of Business Venturing and University of Alberta. Deadline August 1.

FUNDING: is your source to find and apply for federal government grants. There are more than 1,000 grant programs offered by all federal grant-making agencies.

FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The deadline to apply for September 2010 funding is March 4.

Investment Company Institute. Investor Education Grants. Deadline March 30.

National Endowment for Financial Education. The deadline for NEFE’s October 2010 grant cycle is June 1. To learn more about the NEFE grants program, visit the NEFE Web site and click on the Grantmaking section.

MMI Education Foundation
The foundation uses its resources to serve the public interest and strengthen the communities where we live and work. The foundation provides periodic announcements and grant guidelines.



National Women in Agriculture Educators Conference, Baltimore, MD, March 24–25, with a pre-conference seminar on March 23 and a post-conference event on March 25. Deadline for conference registration is March 4 (fees will be imposed for late registration).

Consumer Assembly 2010, March 11-12, Washington, DC.

Jump$tart Coalition Annual Awards, April 14, Washington, DC.

Emerging Scholars Pre-conference, April 14, Atlanta, GA.

2010 ACCI Conference, April 15-16.

The Priester National Extension Health Conference will be April 20-22, in Mobile, AL. 

Financial Literacy Day on the Hill, April 27.

CYFAR 2010 Conference, May 4-7, San Francisco, CA. Details pending.

AAFCS Annual Conference & Expo, June 24-26, Cleveland, OH.                         

AFCPE, November 17-19, Denver, CO.  


  • NIFA Contact: Vacant

  • eXtension (pronounced ee-eXtension) Financial Security for All provides reliable, research-based, and up-to-date financial and consumer information, including learning lessons, fact sheets, and unbiased peer-reviewed answers to frequently asked questions. Consumers can access eXtension 24/7/365 on any Internet-ready device.
    Contact: Debra Pankow, family economics specialist, North Dakota State University, or go to and click on Personal Finance.

  • National Initiative "Financial Security in Later Life" Contact: Nancy M. Porter, Family Resource Management Specialist, Clemson University

  • Financial Literacy for Youth Contact: Erica Tobe, Program Leader for Youth Financial Literacy, Michigan State University Extension

Back issues of Family Economics News
are available.

To submit items for consideration for this newsletter, contact Jim Terry, Program Analyst, NIFA-USDA.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).  To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Mention or display of a trademark, proprietary product, or firm in text or figures does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and does not imply approval to the exclusion of other suitable products or firms.