The Scrooge-O-Meter from LSS Financial Counseling Service is an example of a calculator job aid. Calculators guide someone through a task by prompting for numerical values and performing calculations. The idea is to help a person reach some conclusion without having to master the factors or the math involved.
(LSS Financial Counseling Service is part of the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.)
Who uses this job aid?
Most likely someone trying to learn the added financial burden of buying on credit. (See additional thoughts from the group that created it, later in this post.)
What is the task supported?
I would say “awareness” or even “empowerment.” The goal is to help someone understand the additional cost of purchasing on credit. I filled in the numbers you see in this example. The result says to me that “spreading out” credit payments for my holiday buying makes those purchases nearly 10% more expensive than I’d thought.
Notice that it doesn’t render judgment (“$68.72 extra? Are you nuts?!?”). The job aid simplifies the process so I can more readily see and understand the impact of buying on credit. I’m free to make my own decisions about what to do next.
More about the Scrooge-O-Meter
LSS Financial Counseling Service wants consumers to know that they can turn to a national network of nonprofit financial counseling and debt management (FCS is a member of that network). The page with the Scrooge-O-Meter offers a toll-free number, online counseling, a newsletter, and other resources.
Darryl Dahlheimer, program director of LSS Financial Counseling Service, was kind enough agree to its appearing here and also to provide these details:
There are many tools to help consumers calculate credit card repayment, but here are three reasons we like this one:
- It sets a playful tone, to overcome the shame/intimidation of finances for so many who feel “dumb about money” but want to learn.
- It helps make the true cost of using credit visible. Plug in an example of buying that $500 iPad at a major store on their 21% interest credit card and then paying only the $15 minimum each month. You will pay a whopping $757 and take over four years to pay off.
- Conversely, it allows you to see the tangible benefits of paying more than minimums.