Strategies for Making Ends Meet: Using Programs and Other Money-Saving Options

University of Nevada, Reno
Southern Area Cooperative Extension
Seniors CAN

Lesson Plan

Lesson: Strategies for Making Ends Meet: Using Programs and Other Money-Saving Options

Lesson Number: F-2


The “Strategies for Making Ends Meet: Using Programs” lesson is designed to introduce Learners to the wide variety of programs available to save money and enhance their quality of life.

Learning Overview: The Learner will participate in a lesson designed to teach him/her about specific government and private sector programs that s/he may qualify for to enhance both quality of life and the ability to live independently in the community.

Lesson Objectives:

  1. During the lesson, the Learner will be exposed to information regarding:
    • The fact that people sometimes have inhibitions about using programs that can provide them with financial help, and that these inhibitions might be overcome by a realistic examination of the even greater potential costs to the community of not using such programs.
    • Specific government and private sector programs in the areas of health care costs, automobile insurance, nutrition, home energy costs, rent and property tax assistance, widows’ benefits, home repair, legal help, tax form preparation assistance and home equity conversion.
    • Filling out applications and other procedures to follow to find out if one qualifies for programs.
  2. During the lesson, the Learner will engage in group discussion regarding the use of government or private sector programs describing with clarity at least one example from his/her life experience.
  3. During group discussion, either spontaneously or in response to Facilitator request, the Learner will state with clarity that s/he has selected at least one idea presented during the lesson, describe that idea, and will try this idea during the following week to see if it works for him/her. Alternatively, the Learner will state with clarity that s/he does not want to try out any of the ideas presented, and the reason for the decision.


Set up at previous meeting:

Next week, we will be exploring strategies for making ends meet financially, and we will be looking at some of the programs available to help older adults remain living independently in the community.


Set up immediately prior to this meeting:

Facilitator assures that lighting is appropriate for Learners to read the available community program material, as well as write on application forms, if desired. Another option would be to invite a speaker from a community organization to meet with the group (i.e. an Advocate for Elders or SHIP Medicare Specialist from the NV Division for Aging Services).



Provided by Facilitator:

One of the following for each Learner:

Note: Facilitator should review lesson plan for this week, last week and next week because information provided at the beginning of each lesson plan is needed for smooth transition between lessons.





Clark County Senior Advocate Program. (2006). Royal Pages: A guide to services for seniors. Clark County Parks and Recreation: Las Vegas, NV.

Official Report to White House Conference on Aging (1995). Putting Aging on Hold- Delaying the Disease of Old Age.


Begin Lesson:

Transition from last week

Last week we talked about (name of last week’s unit). Each of us selected one idea to try out. Let’s talk about how those worked (or didn’t work) for us, and also what we learned from last week’s meeting.

Anticipatory Set:

Today we will explore using government and private sector programs that provide financial help as a way to assist older adults in making ends meet financially. We think this topic is important because when you have less financial concerns your life will be better and it will be easier for you to remain living independently in your home.

Share the Objective:

  1. We will be talking about:
    1. Inhibitions that people sometimes have in respect to using programs that provide financial help, and how these inhibitions might be overcome.
    2. Specific government and private sector programs in the areas of health care costs, automobile insurance, nutrition, home energy costs, rent and property tax assistance, widows’ benefits, home repair, legal help, tax form preparation assistance, and home equity conversion.
    3. How forms can be filled out and what procedures should be followed to find out if one qualifies for the programs.
  2. During this lesson, I will be providing information, but it is also important that we share information and ask questions in group discussion. I would appreciate it if each of you could bring up at least one example from your life experience.
  3. Also during the lesson today, I’m going to ask each of you to select one idea from the lesson to try out on your own over the next week. I’ll pick one, too. Then each of us can share with the group next week how it worked out.

Share the Handout:

This summarizes the main ideas we will be discussing today. [Pass out handout.]


I. First, let’s talk about why people sometimes resist the idea of using programs that offer them financial assistance—for example, food stamps. Why do you think it is that people resist filling out an application for food stamps, sometimes even if they know that they probably qualify financially?

  1. Allow group discussion on this. It is possible that “shame” will be a reason suggested, as people often feel shameful of being seen by others as unable to provide for themselves. It is also possible that Learners will bring up the idea that even during the Depression, their families survived without formal charitable or government programs. Facilitator can bring up the following ideas during this discussion:
    1. Programs are the way people help each other out:
      • a. During the Depression families helped one another in the absence of government and/or other programs. People in communities looked out for one another. If you ate dinner at someone’s house, did you do anything in return? Perhaps your family did chores in exchange for being fed.
      • b. Also, extended family members tended to live nearby in the same communities so it was also easier to help one another within families.
      • c. In this day and age, especially in urban settings like Las Vegas, many people don’t live within close proximity to family members or even know their neighbors well enough to exchange help with them. Yet we all go through times when a little help would be very valued and appreciated.
      • d. When people advance in age, when they retire and when their spouses pass away are examples of when a little help might be needed. So it’s very understandable for people in situations like these to seek help from others and from programs that are designed to help us.
    2. Consider the use of programs available to help you financially as a way that you can help the community save money.
      • a. Programs that help you financially help you to stay living independently in the community for a longer period of time. When people are no longer able to live independently, they need to live in care facilities such as assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Costs for these facilities are much higher than the little bit of money it might take to help someone live independently. The help strengthens and prolongs independence. Some estimate that delaying nursing home entry by one month would save $3 billion per year nationally.

II. We will now turn to your handout to discuss specific government and private sector programs in areas of health care costs, automobile insurance, nutrition, home energy costs, rent and property tax assistance, widows’ benefits, home repair, legal help, tax form preparation assistance and home equity conversion. While considering these programs, keep the following in mind:

  1. In some programs, applicants must meet income qualifications or have limited assets before benefits can be received; in others, income and assets are irrelevant.
  2. Try not to make too many assumptions about whether you do or do not qualify for a given program, since the method of calculating income and resources varies from program to program.
  3. For each program you are interested in, call to find out where and when you can fill out an application. Some applications can be done by mail. If you must visit a program in order to fill out an application, ask what documents you should bring with you.

Monitoring / Discussion:

Q: Do any of the programs that we have discussed sound as if they might be of benefit to you?

Q: What might stop you from applying for them?

Q: I’d like to do a little bit of practice with you on filling out applications for programs. Let’s pick out one of the applications, I’ll give each of you a copy, and we can each fill one out as part of a group project. Which one would the group like to try out?


  1. The group should select an application for one program to be and Guided Practice filled out during the activity. This will vary depending upon each individual group's needs and income levels. If Learners have no preference, Facilitator can guide this practice by selecting the application for the program he/she thinks is most likely to accept most or all of the Learners as qualifying for assistance. Consideration should also be given to the length of each application compared to the amount of time left in which the lesson must be finished.
  2. After the application for the group to complete together during this lesson is selected, Facilitator passes out application, clipboard and pens. Facilitator leads Learners through the application, with group discussion on items as need arises.
  3. Facilitator will have brought enough applications for each Learner to have one for each program, which the Learner can then take home. Facilitator passes these out after the group practice application is completed. If applicable, suggest that Learners get together outside of lesson time to help each other complete as many applications as they wish to pursue. Further questions about applications can be brought to the Facilitator at the next meeting if desired.

As an alternative, if there is not enough time for the group to fill out a group application, step 3 alone can be followed or the guest speaker may offer a presentation at this time.

Independent Practice:

This can be done at any time during the lesson. It seems to work better when it is not done in the rush at the end of a meeting. "I’d like for each of us to select at least one idea, from what we're learning, to try out this week. Let’s choose something easy to experiment with. Next week we can all compare our experiences and see what worked and what didn't."

Closure/ Transition:

Look at next week’s lesson plan for: “Set up at previous meeting.”

It begins: “Next week, we will be exploring . . ..”