Betty Moseley, a retired dietitian living in Oxford, thought that she knew all there was to know about saving money. So when her North Carolina Cooperative Extension agent suggested that she sign up for the “Get the Money Monkey Off Your Back!” class series, she was skeptical.
But Moseley had already been surprised by how much she learned from Cooperative Extension’s Eat Smart, Cook Smart cooking school, offered by family and consumer sciences Extension Agent Joan Reid. Even with her training as a dietitian, Moseley said she picked up quite a bit of new information. So she signed up for the money course.
For a month, class members kept track of all their expenditures, right down to sales tax.
“I was shocked to see where my money was going,” Moseley said.
As a couple retired from the military, Moseley and her husband felt they had enough financial resources. But the course gave her insight into how they could stretch those resources even further.
Moseley learned that she and her husband were spending too much for cable television. They opted for a “basic cable” plan with fewer channels, and they also cut back from two phone lines and two internet providers to one. They paid off a car loan early, saving $1,800 in interest payments.
The payments for things like phone and cable didn’t look that high, Moseley said, until she considered the total yearly costs. “You don’t realize how much you’re paying until you multiply those payments by 12,” she said.
Moseley also realized how much money she spent on small items like magazines that she picked up near the store cash register. “I was paying too much in sales taxes for things that I didn’t really need,” she said.
One thing that Moseley is really proud of is how she’s developed a yard that “pays me back,” she says. When she bought her modest Oxford home in 2006, she spent quite a bit of money trying to landscape her new yard.
But she began to think about the yard differently – what could the space do for her? Now her “edible landscape” provides fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs for the couple year-round. The yard includes apple and fig trees, blackberries, strawberries, a vegetable garden and more. “We have something producing fruit from spring to fall,” she said.
There are also roses to cut for the house and lavender for potpourri.
To keep everything watered, Moseley and her husband collect water in rain barrels. They also have a watering system that requires only a garden hose – much cheaper than a full in-ground system.
FCS Agent Reid first got to know Moseley when Moseley and her husband participated in an Eat Smart, Cook Smart cooking school. Moseley was so enthusiastic that she took another Extension nutrition and physical activity program – Faithful Families – to her church.
“Not only has Betty been an eager participant in our FCS programs, she also has given back by serving as an instructor in Eat Smart, Cook Smart cooking schools. She is also a member of our county FCS Specialized Committee,” Reid said.
The “Money Monkey” class is open to the public, though a number of the clients come from a local food pantry program. Those who receive financial assistance are required to attend the Extension class.
Moseley recalls that some class members were initially resistant to the idea of creating a family budget or a savings plan.
People are struggling with their finances right now,” she said. “But where are people getting their financial education?”
When Moseley isn’t busy considering new ways to save money, she has a pretty full calendar, as an Oxford city commissioner, a role she has held since January 2012.
Moseley says she would recommend the “Money Monkey” class to anyone, based on her experience. “That’s real money that I’m saving,” she said.
— Natalie Hampton