Amanda Christensen is an AFC® and Extension Professor with Utah State University specializing in personal finance. In this role, she provides community education and develops educational resources related to personal finance to the USU students and fellow Utahns.
AFCPE: What led you to a career in personal finance? And what inspires you to continue doing this work today?
Amanda: I will never forget sitting in Alena Johnson’s undergraduate family finance class at Utah State listening to her talk about the couples and money research she was involved with. I went up to her afterward, introduced myself, and volunteered as a research assistant. To my absolute delight, she accepted. This led to a decision to switch my major and ultimately to a graduate degree in Consumer Science. I am always inspired by individuals, usually women, who interact with me on social media, through my online course, or as a participant in a webinar. Those who have shared their very personal stories of financial perseverance and success always inspire me to continue to help others to learn and develop habits to improve financial stability.
AFCPE: Tell us about your work at the Utah State University Extension office and the impact it has made on the community.
Amanda: I develop the knowledge, confidence, and skills of individuals to manage financial resources. Impact data shows that individuals who engage with my programs create financial goals, reduce their debt burden, review their credit reports, track monthly spending, implement a monthly budget, increase savings, and report an overall increase in financial well-being. To extend my reach, I provide a variety of delivery methods including face-to-face instruction, online webinars, online courses, YouTube videos, Instagram videos (IGTV), websites, social media outreach, television, and radio. Through these methods, I provide research and evidence-informed personal finance education to fulfill the Extension mission of extending university resources to the communities I serve.
AFCPE: Practitioners are always looking for ways to provide relevant content to consumers. Inflation is a hot topic right now and you and the Utah State University Extension office launched a website to help consumers deal with inflation. Can you tell us a bit about the website and what consumers can expect from it?
Amanda: While national inflation rates are incredibly high, in Utah they are even higher (up 10.4% since May 2021) translating to a need for $700-$800 more per month for a family of four to continue to afford common goods and services. So, we created www.inflation.usu.edu in an effort to pool together our most applicable resources for families to utilize immediately to help reduce spending, increase savings, and avoid financial disaster. Listed on the site are free webinars to help people inflation-proof their finances, a “Request a Class” form if you’d like us to teach a class to a group, a popular “Cutting Expenses Guidebook” with more than 90 ideas to help you make small (or big) adjustments in your spending, online courses, YouTube videos, and free family fun guides that promote frugal activities to build positive family relationships.
AFCPE: We are celebrating 30 years of the AFC®! How has the AFC made an impact on your career and on the field of personal finance?
Amanda: The AFC and AFCPE have really been paramount in my pursuit of excellence in the field of personal finance. Both are synonymous with quality standards that I feel people should expect from experts who teach personal finance and create resources to help people navigate real-life money decisions.
AFCPE: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about working in personal finance and/or earning their AFC?
Amanda: The AFC certification should be at the top of your list. It’s worth every effort to climb the certification hurdle and further legitimize the experience you can offer to those you serve.
AFCPE: Tell us about a project or initiative you are currently working on?
Amanda: I serve on the board of the Utah Financial Empowerment Coalition which operates through the Utah State Office of the Treasurer. We’re currently working hard to promote the annual Women in the Money Conference which takes place Thursday, September 15th and Friday, September 16th both virtually and in person. This is a fabulous professional development opportunity! Find out more here: www.womeninthemoney.org
AFCPE: What is the best way to connect with you (social links, etc.)?
Amanda answers the Friday 5:
- My Why: My family
- My Favorite Quote: “Do it Anyway” by Mother Teresa
- My Hero: Julia Child
- My Favorite Resource: PowerPay! www.powerpay.org
- My Best Advice: It’s not about the money.
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Personal finance is personal. What this DOES mean is that you’ll experience trial and error before you find the money management strategies that work best for you. What this DOES NOT mean is that you need to go it alone or be expected to manage your path to financial wellness without at least occasional guidance from trusted experts.
- For a new professional: Success as a professional is less about communicating YOUR favorite budgeting or savings method and much more about helping individuals find out what systems and processes work best for THEM.