Each month Extension’s financial education program is profiling an outstanding volunteer. To nominate someone, please email Megan Kuhn at Megan.Kuhn@vt.edu.
Name: Marie Baumann
Works: Retired nonprofit administrator
Marie Baumann has served as a Master Financial Education Volunteer since 1992, making her our longest-serving volunteer. She recently provided one-on-one financial counseling for two individuals.
Q. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A. I’m an artist. Finance and art is an odd combination. A lot of people think the two skill sets are totally different, which they are. But I do both
Q: What kind of art?
A: Watercolor painting mostly.
Q: Who is your favorite painter?
A: Right now, Andrew Wyeth. I just saw an exhibit by him at the National Gallery, and I loved it. He used very little color. A lot of it was black, white and gray. He did a lot of landscapes, scenes, buildings, interiors. He used a very spare palette and spare details.
Q. How did you become interested in financial literacy?
A: I became interested at first for my own financial planning and education to better manage my own finances. I was not taught financial literacy, and I don’t think people these days are adequately taught either. So, I wanted to try to help somebody who has not been taught.
Q. After 22 years of volunteering in financial education, what observations can you share?
A. People never cease to surprise me with the range of financial illiteracy and financial problems.
Financial problems seem to go hand in hand with other problems such as emotional, legal and personal relationships. Often when you address the financial side of it, you’re not treating the whole person. You can’t. I usually say, “I’ve done what I can for you. You need to seek legal help or therapy.”
The rare client I have that is motivated and makes real changes in his or her life, that’s what keeps me motivated.
Q: What client success are you most proud?
A: The most interesting client I had. I worked with her for at least four years off and on. Her husband died at an early age and left her a lot of money. We worked through how she would invest the money and provide for herself and her child.
Q: What challenges have you had with clients?
A: People don’t follow through. One person couldn’t keep appointments, and she would not always reschedule. I would show up and sometimes she wasn’t there. I had to drop her. That was disappointing because she really needed help.
Q. We have training sessions for new volunteers in September. What advice do you have for the newbies?
A. A lot of them are tentative and unsure of themselves. You undoubtedly know more than your client does, so don’t be afraid. If you don’t know, say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”