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Published: Sat, June 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

MORE THAN 450 WOMEN -- ANDa few men -- converged on Youngstown State University to learn how to make the most of their money during a free, daylong seminar, Women & amp; Money, offered by the office of the Ohio Treasurer Joseph T. Deters and sponsored by The Vindicator.

One woman chose to attend the free seminar Friday because her husband had always managed household finances but, because he suffers from Alzheimer's disease, she's had to take over.

She said because she's never had to balance the household budget or pay the bills, she feels extremely unprepared and is hoping to acquire some confidence as the result of the seminar.

Bobbie D'Amato, 45, of New Middletown, said she's been managing household finances and those of her husband's chiropractic office for years but never had any formal education about finance or money management. "I feel like I'm drowning," she said. "And I've got to get back on track."

Spend wiser: Eric Kusky, 26, one of the few men to attend, took a day off work "to learn how to spend money wiser." The Campbell resident is a single dad and corrections officer. "I have two children that I'm going to have to put through college and doing it by myself isn't going to be the easiest thing to do," he said. He's hoping the workshops will offer insight that will help him save more. He attended workshops on budgeting, credit and debt management, home ownership and retirement planning.

William Walker, 51, came all the way from Tuscarawas County to attend. Although the seminar is geared toward women, he said, "the ideas discussed are not just female issues." He attended break-out workshops on budgeting, investing, credit and debt, and retirement planning. Walker teaches social studies to juveniles incarcerated at Indian River School in Massillon.

Credit and debit: William Blake, 47, director of student activities at YSU, also attended. He wanted to learn about credit and debt so that he would be better prepared to help students who are often victimized by what he calls "credit-card-company predators."

The credit card companies entice students with free T-shirts, he explained, and once the kids get the cards, they charge more than they can afford, sometimes digging themselves into debt so far that they can't afford to pay the next semester's tuition.

High marks: All of the five participants interviewed praised the program and the treasurer's office for bringing Women & amp; Money to Youngstown.

Women & amp; Money seminars were held in five cities last year -- Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo. Youngstown was added this year and, according to Deters, the goal is "to add one city a year."

Last year, some 400 women attended the workshop in Cleveland, and there were more than 600 in Dayton, he said. This year, several of the seminars were filled to capacity weeks before the event. Referring to the seminar in Youngstown as "a great success," Deters said 540 people registered and more than 450 actually attended.

Just as exciting, he said, is the fact that "every possible demographic is in this room, "young women, middle-aged women and retirees from all races, religions and economic backgrounds."

The workshops are geared toward women because women are at a disadvantage: They earn less -- 70 cents for every dollar men earn; they are less likely to have employer-funded retirement plans; they take off more time to rear children and care for aging parents; and they are more likely to be single parents.

In addition to the workshops, several regional and national sponsors staffed displays that offered additional information: The Vindicator; Firstar, National City, Keybank and Providence banks; U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau; Consumer Credit Counseling Service; and the Social Security Administration, which provided up-to-the-minute estimates of what attendees can expect to receive at retirement.

A Women & amp; Money seminar was held in Cincinnati last month. Seminars are also slated for Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo before summer ends. Last year, more than 1,600 women across the state attended; this year some 2,400 women are expected to attend.

kubik@vindy.com




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