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Giving employees a hand in learning how to handle money

Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Home and Consumer News

PITTSBURGH -- With one credit card paid off and two more to go, Bill Stiner was determined to stick with his plan of total debt elimination after finishing a nine-week course at his Pittsburgh church with other members of the congregation who also had declared war on their debt.

"Everybody in class paid off debt," he said, referring to the program. "But I didn't pay off all the debt. I'm still in the middle of that."

Not long after the church program ended this summer, Stiner was pleasantly surprised to find out that his employer -- Aerotech -- had decided to offer the very same course to its employees for no charge.

He was one of the first employees in his workplace to sign up.

More employers are starting to focus on the financial well-being of workers. In addition to basic employee benefits such as health care and life insurance, financial wellness programs sponsored by companies are helping more workers overcome personal financial challenges, reduce their debt and prepare for retirement.

Aerotech, a global manufacturer of motion control components and systems, is one of four companies in the Pittsburgh region that are bringing financial education into the workplace through a money management course created by Nashville, Tenn.-based talk radio host Dave Ramsey called SmartDollar.

--Sponsored Video--

Nationally, workplace financial education are also offered by companies such as WiseWealth based in Liberty, Mo., and FourSeasons Financial Education based in St. Louis.

Brian Hamilton, vice president of SmartDollar, said 4,000 companies currently provide his company's program to about 2 million employees. Representatives from parent company Ramsey Solutions declined to provide information concerning how much it charges businesses for the program.

Ramsey Solutions has for 25 years been offering a debt elimination course called Financial Peace University that is taught to groups of people in churches and communities. Families pay $93 for the nine-week FPU course held at churches and community centers. The FPU course costs $129 online.

The workplace program contains the same course material, but it is designed for workers to access the program from their personal computers at home. There is no religious content in the SmartDollar version of the money management plan, unlike the church version that touches on Biblical principles.

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