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TMCNet:  Cyber Cafe kicks off financial literacy series

[February 27, 2013]

Cyber Cafe kicks off financial literacy series

SMITHFIELD, Feb 26, 2013 (The Herald (Smithfield - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- On Thursday, Jayne McBurney of the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Service began her five-part lecture series, "Love Your Money," with a question: "When you love something, what do you do with it " The class of about 10 students, sitting in classroom behind the Johnston Medical Mall Cyber Cafe, began giving answers: "Cherish," said one.

McBurney went to the heart of her lecture. "Most of all," she said, "you hold on to it." The title of the lecture was "Budgetwise," and it was the first in a series of Thursday lunchtime seminar on managing money. For $6.50, participants can get a Cyber Cafe meal and some financial food for thought.

The cafe is staffed by culinary students who've recently lost their jobs. Manager Shirley Chamberlain said she wanted to educate them while earning some money for the cafe.

"Most of them have been unemployed for quite awhile," she said. "It's important for them to learn about managing a budget ... and debt." But the classes are open to anyone who's interested. Over the next four Thursdays, people can drop by the cafe for a one-hour lecture starting at noon.

McBurney, who calls herself "a classically-trained home economist," travels around the county for the Cooperative Extension Service, giving talks on saving, investing, home ownership and debt.

Money management has always been an important yet under-addressed topic, McBurney said. "It's never a bad time to learn about taking care of your money," she said. "It's such a needed area of knowledge that a lot of people don't have." McBurney began Thursday's class by talking about budgeting. She gave her students a few rules of thumb. Debt shouldn't eat up more than 15 to 20 percent of net pay; housing should top out at 25-33 percent of gross pay; gas and other vehicle expenses should be less than 15 percent of gross pay.

As her lecture shifted to saving money, it became more of a discussion. Lynda Carroll of Smithfield said she tries to stay away from big-box stores "... You'll go in for toothpaste or mouthwash, and you'll come out with a full cart," she said.

McBurney talked about her daughter's tendency to pick up nonessential items when they go shopping. "That's why you keep a list," she said. "If it's not on the list when you leave the house, it's not on the list." Communicating needs with family and setting limits with children were among the main points of the lecture She also talked about getting rid of redundant services: If you have a smartphone, you might not need wireless Internet at home. Or if you have wireless and a Netflix connection, you might not need cable or satellite TV.

People can also save money by bartering with friends and neighbors. If you need car repairs and you know someone who can help, you might offer to exchange a service. The culinary students, for example, could cook a few meals.

The students seemed to come out of the lecture energized. Diane Narron of Selma said she was ready to make a few changes. "I'm going to check out the thrift stores," she said. "And I'm going to have a talk with my daughter. ... She needs to understand the difference between 'want' and 'need.' " For more information on the series, call the Extension Service at 919-9895300.

Quizon: 919-836-5768 ___ (c)2013 The Herald (Smithfield, N.C.) Visit The Herald (Smithfield, N.C.) at www.theherald-nc.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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