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Family and Consumer Sciences

Ohio State University Extension


Accounting for Your Money Hope Chest

What is Ohio State University Extension?

Ohio State University Extension is an outreach arm of The Ohio State University. It is designed to share the results of research with Ohio citizens to help improve the quality of their lives and the environment in which they live. Ohio State University Extension is jointly funded by federal, state, and county governments and private grants. Programs emphasize “helping people help themselves.”

Extension education programs are offered in four areas: family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, community development, and agriculture and natural resources.

OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Healthy Finances professionals are sensitive to the economic challenges families and their communities are facing as an outcome of the global pandemic and worldwide issues.

Ohio State University Extension statewide campus educators designed this Hope Chest to “help people help themselves” due to the rapid speed of change in our society. A temporary or transition spending plan might be needed to manage our financial stress

The purpose of the Hope Chest is for individuals and families to -

  • Prioritize spending by separating needs from wants
  • Identify realistic/SMART goals
  • Gather current financial spending and saving information
  • Evaluate new emergent resources
  • Develop a “new" Accounting for Your Money calendar
  • Get through the next 6-months using Accounting for Your Money calendar
  • Re-evaluate the transitional spending plan monthly and adjust as needed

Extension Educators serve in all 88 Ohio counties. Access your county office website at

Directions for use of “Accounting for Your Money” Hope Chest

Read Steps 1 through 7 to obtain an overall picture of the components contained within the Hope Chest. After reviewing the components, you are ready to begin completing the Steps. Complete Steps 1 and 2 within a week. For Step 3 you need to collect receipts and saving records before you can add the information to the “Spending Tracker” and “Income and Benefits Tool”. In Steps 4 and 5 you will use the information gained from “Spending Tracker and “Income and Benefits Tool” to inform the development of your Accounting for Your Money budget tool. Steps 6 and 7 will occur over the next 6 next 6 months as you enter spending and saving information into the cash flow tools and adjust your budget as needed.

Completing all the steps will help you understand and control where your money goes.

Working on the steps with co-spenders in your family is a good idea. As a family you can discuss your basic needs and wants and decide how to best spend your money as you adjust to the present and emergent global economic markets. You and your family will be empowered to meet the new challenges brought about by the global emergencies, therefore relieving future financial stress.

You will use the interactive tools provided by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in the Your Money, Your Goals resources to track your current spending and income sources. All interactive tools are fillable PDF formats and are available through highlighted links embedded within the Hope Chest seven step process.

Let the process begin!

Step One

Prioritize spending by separating needs from wants

Everyone has wants and needs. A basic need is something you must have to live your daily life such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. Basic needs also include health, safety, and a means of support.

When we determine priorities, we are stating which one of our needs will be met first, second, and so on. Prioritizing can be done in several ways. Take care of what is important first. Urgent and important issues should be given your immediate attention. Another way to set your priorities is to compare the benefits and costs of one choice over another. Also, you can look at the most common types of problems you are facing. Problems can be categorized as financial, transportation, and relationship.

A. List you and your family’s basic needs as you adjust to the pandemic emergency:

Spending Tracker Tool

1) every day or so —

2) every week or two —

3) every month —

4) seasonally or by the end of the year —

Our list of wants comes from our personal and family values. We are challenged by the pandemic and global emergencies to re-evaluate our list of wants. We are all in this together. Be honest and thoughtful as you list your wants. Since we are adapting to new emergencies let’s focus on our wants for shorter time periods.

B. List your family’s wants as you adjust to the pandemic and global emergencies:

1) Four weeks —

2) Six months –

3) End of year —

Use the following tool to identify needs and wants during the emergencies.

CFPB - Prioritize spending by separating needs from wants tool

Step Two
Identify Realistic SMART Goals

During a time of uncertainty, it is critical to concentrate your time, resources, and efforts on those activities that are most important to you and your family. When you identify relationships, commitments, and responsibilities in your life as valuable and worthy of maintaining and nurturing, you have made them a priority.

Not all individuals or families will select the same things as a priority, nor will they place them in the same rank order. What might be vitally important to one family may not even make the list of priorities for another. What may be similar, however, is the seriousness with which families attend to their priorities.

Goal setting during and after and emergency can bring more control into your life. Goals have five components. Inserting the word SMART in front of the word Goal will remind you of those components.

Smart Goals Guidelines

Use the following SMART Goal Tool to identify financial goals during pandemic and global emergencies and write your family’s SMART goals for the next six months on the following tool.

CFPB – Setting SMART Goals Tool adapted for pandemic emergency

Step Three
Gather and record current financial spending and saving information

Now you need to find out how much you spend and where your money goes. The process will depend how organized your financial recordkeeping has been in the past. You might have maintained a written record of monthly spending or you might have paper receipts scattered about your home as well as electronic receipts in your email inbox. Wherever and however you have maintained spending and saving records in the past, they will now need to be organized into categories and recorded on a weekly and monthly basis.

Remember we are all in this together! Families, small businesses, large corporations and government are doing the same analysis.

Use the following Spending Tracker Tool to identify what is important to you during the pandemic and global emergencies.

CFPB – Spending Tracker Tool

Use the following Income and Benefits Tool to identify what your income is during the pandemic and global emergencies.

CFPB - Income and Benefits Tool

For additional assistance, please contact a county OSU Extension office with your questions as you work through this process.

Step Four

Evaluate pandemic and global emergency resources

Use your network of friends and family to access emergency resources. Each community prides itself on serving the needs of individuals and families. First, checkout your local resources. Click the link below for resources in Ohio Counties. You can also search the internet for one in your location.

County Resources
Clermont County PDF
Darke County PDF
Franklin County PDF
Hancock County PDF
Lucas County 2-1-1
Montgomery County PDF
Monroe County PDF
Morrow County PDF
Paulding County PDF

Next, click logo to view resources offered at the state level. logo

Finally, click on the link below to locate resources available from the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Knowledge Exchange

Step Five

Develop a “new” Accounting for Your Money calendar

Use the following Accounting for Your Money calendar budget tool for 6-months to visualize your income and spending during emergencies. Enter the name of your starting month and the dates for that month in the fillable area on the form.

On each of your calendar pages:

  • Enter the name of your starting month and the dates for that month. (Then enter in the name and dates for each of the following months in your calendar/spending plan)
  • Enter the amount on the date income will be received (use green ink, so it’s easily seen)
  • Enter the amount on the date when fixed and variable expenses are due (use red ink)
  • Enter in any occasional expenses (such as renewing your driver’s license)
  • As you pay bills, mark a line through the note on your calendar pages

CFPB Budget Tool – Adapted for emergencies – Accounting for Your Money

Step Six
Getting through the next 6-months using Accounting for Your Money calendar

Using your calendar/spending plan is just as important as making it because it:

  • allows you to control where your money goes
  • helps your change your spending where needed
  • can give you some peace of mind and reduce financial stress

One hopeful approach to financial crisis is to use a cash flow budget to get through the next 6-months.

CFPB Cash Flow Tool – Adapted for emergencies – Creating a cash flow budget

Step Seven

Re-evaluate the transitional spending plan monthly and adjust as needed

Investigate strategies for improving cash flow during emergencies

CFPB Improving Cash Flow Tool adapted for emergencies


Using strategies from the adjust your expenses on your Accounting for Your Money calendars in months two through six as needed as shown on the adjusting your cash flow tool.

CFPB Adjusting your Cash Flow Tool adapted for emergencies


Final step is to celebrate your success!

Congratulations, you have created a financial stability Hope Chest by Accounting for Your Money!



Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (2020) COVID-19 - A Financial Resource Guide. at

Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (2022) Knowledge HUB at

Ohio State University Extension (2020) Counting Your Money Calendar at

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (2020) Your Money Your Goals. at

Developed by: June 2020, revised March 2022 Margaret Jenkins, assistant professor, educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Clermont County []

Reviewed by:

Nanette L. Neal, extension educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension Clermont County []

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