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Archive for the ‘Healthy Finances’ Category

Green Santa eating cookies

Waste is becoming a bigger challenge than ever before. The average American produces over 4.6 pounds of waste every day. Around 251 million tons of trash are produced every year and 1/3 of all trash is recycled. Plastic and garbage gets into watersheds, winds up on beaches, is consumed by sea life, and eventually goes into our food supply. Trash is found increasingly in national parks, scenic rivers, and in our communities.

Normally, when we take our trash out to the curb, some of it doesn’t even make it to the landfills, but gets blown away and winds up in storm drains and eventually rivers, oceans and beaches. Trash that makes it to landfills has its own set of problems. Most trash takes years to decompose and landfills need to be maintained for 30 years after they are full.

Waste increases 75% during the holidays. Major source of waste include wrapping paper, cards, gift packaging, and broken lights. Many gifts, from jewelry to electronics, use a lot of resources to produce . New electronics and toys replace the old which wind up in landfills.

We can all become green Santas by reducing, recycling and reusing this holiday season. Here are some tips for gifts…

  • Secondhand gifts- Consider shopping at secondhand stores such as goodwill for gifts. Anything in good condition can become a gift. Young children and baby toys especially can be cleaned and gifted.
  • Minimally packaged gifts- Most packaging can’t be recycled.
  • Durable gifts- Do some research on quality and durability when it comes to gifts. Sometimes the more expensive TV set will be the one that lasts longer.
  • Non-physical gifts- Gifts of time and service are special. Offer to baby sit, take someone out to dinner, buy zoo passes, museum passes, dance classes, scuba diving lessons, hot air balloon rides, etc.
  • Charitable gifts- Give money to a college endowment, red cross, etc. in someone’s name.
  • Waste reducing gifts- Gifts such as nice coffee mugs, reusable water bottles, metal straws, mesh produce bags, school lunch boxes, wool dryer balls, Tupperware, cloth napkins, bamboo utensils, reusable dish rags, insulated bags, brew your own k pods (for Keurig) will all reduce the need for disposable products.
  • Make your own gifts- Make sock puppets, boxes with different clothing items (make-up kits) for kids, crafts, etc.

Recycle and reuse as much as possible during the holidays. Lights can be recycled at places like Lowes, and wrapping paper can reused. Some people use cloth for wrapping paper. Gift bags can also be reused as well.

All of these actions, although small individually, can make a big difference collectively in terms of reducing trash, protecting natural resources and even mitigating climate change. Hope there is much green in your Holidays!

Sources:

Money Crashers https://www.moneycrashers.com/green-eco-friendly-gift-ideas-holidays/ Accessed on 12/10/2019

How Stuff Works https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/conservation/issues/recycling-reality1.htm Accessed on 12/10/19

World Wildlife Fund https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/how-does-plastic-end-ocean Accessed on 12/10/19

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, OSU Extension, Wood County

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There are several ways that we can help our future self with better planning and preparation today.

A couple of years ago I started to hear and read what was a new phrase for me: Future Self. The older I get, the more I consider how the things I do today will affect who I am tomorrow. And that may just be the definition of maturity.

This is by no means a complete list of everything to consider for your future self. But as we enter full swing into a season when we are encouraged to immerse ourselves in indulgence, may this be an inspiration (and even permission) to be kind to your future self. Here are some themes that I am currently tackling or have on my list to accomplish in the coming year.

Meal planning: The stress of quickly coming up with dinner once I get home from work results in a not-so-fun-mom. I’m sure that once upon a time I was better at planning out meals for the week ahead. So a present for my future self is to make meal planning a routine habit. My goal is to sit down the last week of each month and plan for the next month. That may sound like a lot, but as a co-parent with tween kids, we always know about 90% of our schedule for the next month. Planning this way allows me to see which days should be a slow cooker meal, which evenings we can cook together in the kitchen, and which nights are going to be a creative use of leftovers. There are some great resources to give you a planning template, menu idea inspiration and some recipes to vary your protein, which could be just what you need for a change of pace.

Family meetings: We recently started doing this at our house. My oldest chairs the meeting and the youngest takes minutes. It keeps them engaged and gives us some great laughs. Our main goal is to discuss our calendar for the next month. It has significantly reduced the night before realization that there is a schedule conflict tomorrow. We also talk through expenses that are coming up and how are we are doing with our budget. Here are some other good tips for family meetings.

If not now, then when?: Planning is a theme here. I recently taught a money management class to a group of employees at a local manufacturing company. During the last lesson we discussed several of the things that we know are important, but since they don’t seem urgent, we don’t act on them. Having advance directives like a living will, identifying power of attorney, and understanding life insurance are examples of things that your future self and your family will appreciate.

Exercise: Since turning 40 I know that I am more physically fit than I have probably ever been in my life. I made the choice to make it a priority. I thought about the future self I wanted. Not to fit into a certain size clothing. My goal is have a healthy lifestyle that gives me the best opportunity to live long enough to be a part of my great-grandchildren’s lives.  It is never too late to increase your physical activity . It can be one of the best presents you give to your future self.  

Sources:

Galloway, A and Starnes, J. Advance Directives. University of Tennessee Extension at https://farmlandlegacy.utk.edu/pubs/AdvancedDirectivesSP743C_Gray.pdf

Iowa State University Extension (2016) 5-Day Meal Planning Worksheet. at https://iastate.app.box.com/s/nwecdndbm5ighioz3suu

Iowa State University Extension (2016) Meal Planning Calendar. at https://iastate.app.box.com/s/6a073s9g34gfia0thev88mu1bp4rzfw2

Kansas State University Research and Extension Department of Human Nutrition. Vary Your Protein Recipe Series. at https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/humannutrition/nutrition-topics/eatingwell-budget/meals-documents/VYPRecipeBook.pdf

McCoy, J. Family Meetings Foster Good Communications. University of Illinois Extension Parenting Again Newsletter Issue 29. at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/grandparents/article.cfm?ID=5171&IssueID=5213

Rapaport, L. (2019) Maintaining or starting exercise in middle life tied to longer life at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-fitness-middle-age/maintaining-or-starting-exercise-in-middle-age-tied-to-longer-life-idUSKCN1UC2E9

Rivette, C. (2013, June 15) Planning ahead: Power of attorney – part 1. Michigan State University Extension at https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/planning_ahead_power_of_attorney_part_1

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/board-school-forward-front-2525247/

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County

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girl doing handstand on beach with sunset/ocean in background

New Year’s Resolution Revival

Many New Year’s resolution focus on making health and lifestyle changes. Halfway through the year is a good time to check the progress of your resolutions.  After the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, many people start out highly motivated and determined that this is the year things will improve. However, within about six weeks, motivation dwindles and many fall off track. If this is where you are at, take a deep breath, and remember that is never too late to pick up where you left off and make progress again towards those goals.

My first recommendation is to think about your New Year’s resolution. What is your “why”? Your “why” is the reason you decided to set a particular health goal. Examples include lose weight, more energy, improve chronic diseases or achieve a fitness goal like running in a race or playing a sport. Write down your “why”, and then set smaller goals that will help you achieve your bigger goal. Goal setting needs to be strategic, so check your goals to see if they follow SMART goal guidelines:

  • S- Specific. Is your goal specific?
  • M- Measurable. Does your goal have objective forms of measurement to check your progress.
  • A- Achievable. Is this the right time to make changes in your life?
  • R- Realistic.  Does your goal challenge you, but not so much that you are setting yourself up for failure?
  • T- Timely. When do you plan to achieve this goal?

Next, check out who your support system is. It is important to surround yourself with people who know and support the goals you have set for yourself.

Staying motivated and committed is critical in reaching your goal. Stay motivated by reminding yourself of your “why” frequently. Place  motivational quotes on sticky notes around your home or work.  It helps to have friends or family that are willing to check in with you regarding your SMART goal’s progress , and develop a plan of action for how you will stick to your goals when you are tempted to quit.

Written by: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension,Wood County,zies.1@osu.edu and Sara Turner- Smith, Bowling Green State University Dietetic Intern, Graduate Student in Food and Nutrition.

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Sources:

Treber, Michelle. Using your Vacation to Jump Start your Healthy Resolutions. July 14, 2016. Live Healthy Live Well Blog at https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/07/14/use-your-vacation-to-jump-start-your-healthy-resolutions/

Mayo Clinic Staff. Weight-loss goals: Set yourself up for success. August 1, 2018 Mayo Clinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048224

Meehan, Amy. Sticking to Your SMART fitness goals. March 27, 2018. Live Health, Live Healthy Blog at https://livehealthyosu.com/tag/smart-goals/

Lane McKenna, Achieving your SMART health goal. (n.d.) Be Well Stanford at https://bewell.stanford.edu/achieving-your-smart-health-goal/

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excited kids looking at a computer

A couple months ago, I wrote a blog titled Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. I was tired of feeling like I was so busy at times, yet not feeling like I accomplished as much as I could or should. I wanted to make some changes to my schedule and my work habits. I started researching proven strategies for increasing productivity. I am going to review my progress and provide some additional information about productivity.

Since I denounced the concept of multitasking in my last blog, I have reduced the amount of time I spend trying to multitask. I check my email in batches: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before and after lunch, and later in the afternoon. Logging out of email has helped reduce disruptions in my work flow. The downside is that I have been late getting on to Zoom meetings because my calendar did not give me the 15 minute warning. So, I have learned to set the alarm on my phone for these times. This allows me to keep email closed, yet not miss other obligations.

Another thing I have been doing, is avoiding ‘visiting’ with my co-workers first thing in the morning. More people tend to be productive and creative in the morning, rather than later in the day. This one has been challenging since I am a people person. At first I felt like I was not being friendly, so I explained my rationale to my co-workers so they would not think I am just being antisocial. This has been helpful for my own productivity. I have intentionally been designating morning time to work on projects like blog articles, webinars, and other “thinking” work and saving my socializing for the afternoon, unless my co-workers initiate a conversation.

While, I have been doing things that I learned from my research on productivity, I still have a lot of room for improvement. I want to get better at taking breaks from my work. I have a treadmill desk, so I often think I don’t really need to go outside or for a walk since I am able to walk anytime I want to right at my desk. This could not be further from the truth. According to MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bob Pozen people who take regular breaks FROM their work are more productive. He suggests the question to ask yourself is not how many breaks you should take in a day, but “what is the appropriate time period of concentrated work you can do before taking a break?” Pozen suggests between 75-90 minutes of work followed by a 15 minute break is a good ratio.

empty office

I am going to be more intentional about taking breaks FROM my work in the next couple months. I have used socializing with my co-workers as one of my breaks from work, but I have not incorporated many other breaks aside from the occasional web-surfing in to my day. I want to incorporate LEAVING my office and/or building for at least a short walk or just to sit outside and enjoy the outdoors as my next goal for increased productivity.

I welcome any tips, tricks, or suggestions you have for increasing productivity since this is a journey for me. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Photo Credit:

https://pixabay.com/photos/children-win-success-video-game-593313/

https://pixabay.com/photos/simpolo-india-morbi-tiles-ceramics-2020200/

Sources:

Griffin, J. (2017) 4 Ways Multi-Tasking Decreases Productivity (And How to Avoid It). Northeastern University Graduate Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/why-you-shouldnt-multitask/

Harmon, M. (2019). Accomplish MORE in LESS Time. Live Healthy Live Well Blog. Found at:  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/03/28/accomplish-more-in-less-time/

MIT Sloan Executive Education. (2017). Want to be more productive in 2018? Take more breaks. MIT Management Executive Education. Found at: https://executive.mit.edu/blog/want-to-be-more-productive-in-2018-take-more-breaks#.XOL8RSB7lhE

Wharton School. (2013). Productivity in the Modern Office: A Matter of Impact. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/productivity-in-the-modern-office-a-matter-of-impact/

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield@osu.edu

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America Saves Week, February 25 to March 2, is a chance to remind all of us to start saving a little more – be it for an unexpected crisis, retirement, for a family vacation or home, or just saving an unexpected bonus or gift. Savers with a plan are twice as likely to save successfully for things like retirement or educational advancement. By taking the America Saves Pledge this week you can win up to $750. Sign up for the Pledge at http://go.osu.edu/ohiosave. On the site you can discover saving tools, set goals, sign up for text tips, and share your own saving stories for a chance to win even more money. Let’s look a little closer at these resources –

  • Check out the section with Goal Savings Tips – Includes tips to help you save for emergencies, retirement, a new car, education, or a home. The automobile section for instance has sections to help you decide how much you need to save for the down payment, if you should buy new or used, and tips about car loans.
  • The Money Saving Plans Section – Includes tips to find ways to save money, like reminding yourself to always order water when eating out. Just a couple of drinks will add $10 on to your bill.
  • The Debt and Credit Section – Includes hints to help raise your credit score and ideas for ways to reduce debt and accumulate wealth.
  • The Savor Story Section – Provides stories from other American’s who took the Pledge and just like all of us, are working to get a handle on their spending and save more. Hopefully they will inspire you to save too.
  • Tools and Resources Section – Links to a number of financial resources from trusted sources includes: a Saver Checklist, Personal Wealth Estimator, Retirement Resources, and resources for Youth.

This is the perfect time of year to save if you are getting an Income Tax Refund this year. Think of that refund as a “Windfall” and consider saving half your refund. There is an additional Save Your Refund Pledge found at http://saveyourrefund.com, up to 100 people who take this pledge will win money. Budget out how you plan to use your refund this year, rather than paying one bill and then blowing the rest away without a plan.

If you think, I don’t make enough to save, you are wrong. Just saving $10 a month will get you moving in the right direction. Then the next time you have a windfall – like a win at the fundraiser 50/50 you can add to it and begin to build your nest egg. This savings will provide you with peace of mind for the next unexpected expense.

 

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

 

Sources:

America Saves, https://americasaves.org/

Save Your Refund, https://saveyourrefund.com/home/

University of Illinois Extension, More for Your Money: Using Your Money Wisely, https://extension.illinois.edu/money/spendingplan.cfm.

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Could you use a little more money? Perhaps, you spent too much over the holidays or your spouse has been impacted by the government shutdown..? Did your teen just wreck the family car? For a variety of reasons, many of us find budgets tight this time of year and we need to find ways to cut expenses.  Here are a few saving tips:

  • Save windfalls – don’t spend them on bonus things. Deposit them in the bank or put them towards a bill. (Did you get cash from a family member for your birthday? Get a bonus or work overtime? Win the 50/50 at the school ball game? Don’t spend it with nothing to show for it.)
  • Cut food-shopping costs – be sure to use regular or online coupons, purchase store-brands, get rain checks, and watch the prices at the checkout. (Also, try to shop alone since each additional person adds things to the cart.)
  • Save your loose change – put all change in a jar and save it towards vacation or deposit it every few weeks.
  • Use the 24 hour rule – think about a purchase for 24 hours (or over-night) before hitting submit on the shopping cart (for online) or buying unnecessary items. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should wait to buy medication, but do you need that cute top or those boots that were marked down?
  • Unsubscribe to marketing emails – just hit unsubscribe at the bottom of the email and cut out temptation. You can always add yourself back when your budget is stronger.
  • Take credit cards out of your wallet – put them in the freezer or your desk, so it is inconvenient and you have to plan to use them.
  • Make a big deal out of a stay home family or friend night – cook at home (taco bar, homemade pizza, breakfast for supper), play games, eat popcorn, or watch a family/comedy together instead of everyone running off to their own rooms.
  • Sell things you don’t need – clothes you don’t wear anymore, sports equipment, tools, collectibles, toys, or baseball cards. Make sure the items you sell are your own of course. Resale shops or social media buy/sell sections both are options.
  • Drink water or iced tea – stop buying disposable water in bottles, use refillable ones and make your own iced tea or coffee. You can save hundreds each year.
  • Don’t buy snacks from machines – measure your own pretzels, nuts, or fruit in a small container rather than paying vending markup. Bonus: you control what’s in your snack.
  • Take leftovers for lunch – even doing this a couple times could save $15 or $20 a week.
  • Cut utility costs – make sure you are using a low-flow showerhead, turn off appliances and lights, unplug charged devices, and lower your water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Eliminate plastic – don’t use disposable plates, plastic forks/spoons, or plastic storage bags. While you may have to do a few more dishes, you help the environment and cut an expense.

Almost everyone has a way that they have found to save money or something they can sell to add a little extra income – feel free to share your favorite in the comments. For additional information go the Personal Finance section of eXtension.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

America Saves: https://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/54-ways-to-save-money

North Carolina State Extension, Take Control of Your Future, https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/ideas-to-help-you-save-money-at-home.

eXtension: https://articles.extension.org/pages/16136/stretching-your-food-dollar

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simplify

2019 is here. January is the perfect time to focus on the creation of a simpler life. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, there are no outdoor chores such as yard work to worry about yet, and the cold weather allows us the opportunity to slow down and reflect. Imagine having more time to do the things you enjoy with less stress!  Simplifying allows you to have more control of your life, reduces wasted time, incurs less stress, and increases opportunities for more happiness.

Learning to simplify your life can completely change your life for the better. We are all trying to manage life, work, finances, family, etc.  This can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Why not create a plan to simplify this year by choosing one or more of the following suggestions to begin with:

  • Simplify your Commitments
    • Look at your calendar. Is there an activity every single day? Reevaluate these activities, based on their value and reduce them.
  • Simplify your Shopping
    • If you are overspending due to impulse shopping, create a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Simplify your Entertainment
    • There are hundreds of channels to choose from as well as websites, podcasts, YouTube channels, and video games. Make it a priority to spend at least some of your time detached from technology. Do you really want to look back on 2019 and know that your biggest accomplishment for the year was how many shows you binge-watched??
  • Simplify your gadgets
    • We all have an abundance of gadgets, cleaning supplies and digital services. Downsize and use what you determine is absolutely needed. Only use one type of calendar for schedules.
  • Simplify your budget
    • Reduce expenses, create a spending plan, and stop unnecessary spending.
  • Simplify your health
    • Eat healthy food
    • Get enough sleep
    • Exercise
    • Get outside every day
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Reduce intake of sugar/junk food
    • Reduce stress
  • Organize one section of your home
    • Choose one area of your home or workspace to organize. It will make a huge impact on your peace of mind every time you enter it to see the clutter and possessions reduced.

Enjoy 2019!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201807/5-ways-simplify-your-life

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prescriptions-life/201901/change-your-life-pick-one-thing-and-do-it

 

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