By KATIE-NELL SCANLON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- When you earn less, have fewer benefits and have just as much responsibility, you'd better know how to handle the money you do get.
That's the logic behind a continuing round of state-sponsored seminars, "Women and Money," which will return to Youngstown this week.
The problem is age-old. A blues song by Ida Cox, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," offers this bit of wisdom:
"And if I ever get my hands on a dollar again
I'm gonna squeeze it, squeeze it till the eagle grins."
But modern women face the same problems.
In 2000, women were paid 73 cents for every dollar men received. That's $148 less each week to spend on groceries, clothing and necessities. Over the course of a year, that's a loss of $7,696. Minus maternity leave and family commitments, that's a massive gap between the salaries of women vs. their male counterparts.
Working families in Ohio suffer the most from unequal pay, accompanied by those in Michigan, Vermont, Indiana, Illinois, Montana, Wisconsin and Alabama. Working women lose an average of about $5,000 in family income each year.
But they're not taking it anymore. Ohio women are flexing their muscles and tightening their fists, refusing to let pennies slip through their fingers into the crevices of economic inequality.
Area women have the opportunity to learn helpful tips on money management at "Women and Money," a free workshop presented by State Treasurer Joseph T. Deters. This year's event takes place from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at Youngstown State University's Kilcawley Center.
The seminar, launched for Ohioans in 2000, has instructed nearly 4,000 women from a variety of educational and financial backgrounds.
Deters said issues are based on participants' suggestions. By tracking comments on which topics women feel are necessary, the program has been aimed to educate them on a variety of financial matters.
This year's workshop addresses budgeting, credit and debt management, home ownership, insurance, investing and retirement planning. The workshop has a new course in estate planning.
Instructors for the workshop sessions are trained on the curriculum, and must be personable and knowledgeable, according to Deters. The hand-picked instructors are chosen from all over Ohio, specialized in a range of financial areas.
Youngstown is one of the seven Ohio cities to have the seminar, and Deters said the city's importance to the state caused its addition to the program's agenda in 2001.
Tim Clark, press secretary for the Ohio State Treasurer's office, said the response from Youngstown was "overwhelmingly positive."
More than 450 people showed up for last year's free seminar at Youngstown State University.
Deters said he's anticipating as big a response as last year, hoping that women who attended will return for further financial information.
Marianne Vaughn of Austintown is one participant who will attend the workshop for the second year.
As treasurer of the Western Reserve Transit Authority, Vaughn found the information "extremely beneficial for women."
Although she doesn't describe herself as a risk-taker, she said the workshops have helped her to be less wary of her money.
A retired consumer credit counselor, Bernadette Zets of Austintown will also attend this year's workshop.
"You can always learn something new," Zets said, commenting on the change in the economy over recent years.
Featured local speaker this year is Diane Sauer of Diane Sauer's Martin Chevrolet in Warren. Her dealership has been serving the Warren/Youngstown area since 1958 when it was founded by Paul Martin. Sauer purchased the business March 18, 1994. She was the 1999 recipient of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber's ATHENA Trophy, which honors women for personal excellence, community service, and leadership.
Last year's speaker was Eva Bevilacqua, owner of Bodyworks Fitness Center in Austintown.
According to data from the state treasurer's office, women are on the losing end of the employment totem pole.
Only one in three working women have jobs that offer retirement plans, as opposed to 55 percent of working men. Not only that, but about half of all working women take time off from work to care for their families, thereby diminishing their potential retirement income.
The seminar is targeted at women from all ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds; it is designed to provide them with necessary tools to make sound financial decisions.
Organizers said registration is filling quickly. Those interested in attending can find more information by visiting www.ohiowomenandmoney.org or by contacting the Ohio State Treasurer's office at (800) 228-1102.