Archive for the ‘Healthy Finances’ Category


Fruits & Veggies

We are entering that wonderful time of the year when local farmers’ markets are open, roadside stands pop up and even local grocery stores offer plentiful displays of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. With all of this bounty, sometimes the question arises on how to choose the most flavorful, ripe product. You will want to choose fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness for the best flavor and nutritional value.

Here are some helpful hints to remember when you are shopping:

  • Look for fruits or vegetables that have the shape, size and color that are usually thought of for the item. Remember though, they don’t have to be perfect to be good! That tomato or pepper that is slightly misshapen should be just as tasty and nutritious as its perfect neighbor.
  • Avoid fruits/vegetables with obvious bruises or discoloration. These spots will spoil quickly. If you notice a spot after you bring the produce home, cut out the bad spot and use as soon as possible.
  • Feel the item. If it is very soft it may be overripe; if it is too hard, it hasn’t ripened enough to eat yet. Melons can be especially difficult to choose. Here is great information on choosing ripe melons.
  • Smell! Fruits/vegetables that have the characteristic aroma associated with the item should be ready to eat. Think fresh peaches!

Not all vegetables and fruits will continue to ripen once they have been harvested.

  • Tomatoes, unripe melons, and tree fruits such as pears, peaches and nectarines should be kept at room temperature to ripen. They will get sweeter and more delicious.
  • Grapes, berries, and cherries won’t get better while sitting out, so they should go into the refrigerator right away.
  • Other fruits, like citrus, could sit out for a day or two but then should also be put in the refrigerator.
  • Most vegetables should be refrigerated when harvested or purchased. Some exceptions would be onions, garlic and potatoes.

Don’t forget about food safety with your fresh produce!

  • Always wash your fresh produce before using.
  • Some fruits and vegetables are better stored in the refrigerator before you wash them. Items such as beans and berries are more likely to spoil if stored damp. Be sure and brush off as much dirt as possible before storing. Place them in bags to keep them from contaminating other food in your refrigerator and them wash well when you are ready to eat them.
  • All produce should be rinsed under cool running water. Do not use soap or bleach as the residue left on the produce could make you ill.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. By buying fresh, seasonal items at the peak of their freshness and having them available to eat makes it easier to incorporate them into our daily diet.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County. Rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County. treber.1@osu.edu




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Many of us share our cellphone number without a second thought.   Yet, our cellphone number is linked to private information maintained by many companies and business transactions conducted with our cell phone. These include medical records, business contacts, social networks, banks and money lenders.  These companies look at patterns to determine what we might buy, check online, or even watch on television.

Unlike our Social Security number, our cellphone number does not have to be kept private by companies.  We have learned we need to protect our Social Security number and not give it out randomly.  However, if asked most of us share our cellphone number without a second thought, especially if we are completing a business form.

Unlike a home phone number that many people shared, the cellphone is an individual number for one person.  Youth may have the same cellphone number for the rest of their lives, making it easy for someone to get lots of information quickly.  Austin Berglas, a former F.B. I. agent said a cellphone number is often more useful than a Social Security number, as the cellphone number is tied to so many databases, and the device is almost always with you.   No one else will ever be given the same Social Security number you have, but if you give up your phone number it will probably be resigned to someone else.  That person could get text messages for you using that phone number.

Many banks, payment systems like PayPal and other companies are using text messages with a temporary personal identification number to give people a way to borrow money or purchase an item.  This is a convenient feature for cellphone use, but what happens if the information is stolen?  .

What can we do to protect our phones?  These are some recommendations from some experts:

  1. Always have a strong password or use the fingerprint available on newer phones. Don’t share your password.
  2. Create a PIN number for your mobile phone account.
  3. Use the device auto-lock feature, so it is not staying open.iphone-37856__340
  4. Only download apps from your trusted app store.
  5. Set up remote wipe which can remotely wipe clean your phone if you lose your device.
  6. When on public WIFI, use a VPN.
  7. Update your phone and apps when updates are available. Don’t delay.
  8. Opt for the built-in encryption feature on your phone or install one.

A new app “Sideline” allows you to add a second number to your cellphone which you can give out instead of your personal number.  I am not experienced with this feature, but it could provide an option.  Think twice before you give out your cellphone.  Give them a work number instead, if possible.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer:  Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Mahoning County


Coombs, C. (2016). The Latest Identity Theft Target: Your Cell Phone, Techlicious.  Available at http://www.techlicious.com/tip/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cell-phone-account-identity-theft/#.WIYcAKe3GkE.email

Lohr, S. (2016). A 10-Digit Key Code to Your Private Life:  Your Cellphone number.  The New York Times   Available at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/business/cellphone-number-social-security-number-10-digit-key-code-to-private-life.html?_r=0

Stringfellow, A. (2016). Cell Phone Security  30 Tech Experts Share Important Steps to Securing Your Smartphone.  TCC Verizon  Available at https://www.tccrocks.com/blog/cell-phone-security-tips/

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Stethoscope on cashIf you are lucky enough to have elderly parents, you know what a precious gift it is to have them. However, with this precious gift of time, there are some challenges that occur as they age and need your help. It is difficult when the roles of parent and child begin to shift and the children become the caregivers. One of the most complicated issues is when there is a need to take over your parents’ finances. Taking control can be awkward and complicated, but putting it off too long can make it very difficult to sort out all of their accounts and make the necessary legal steps to ensure your ability to successfully manage your parent’s money.

How do you know when it is time to step in? Watch for early signs that your parent’s cognitive ability is declining, and there is a need to step in and take control. If you wait too long, there’s a good chance that significant financial losses have occurred. Some of the signs to look for are:

  • They become forgetful about cash
  • They start getting calls from creditors
  • Their house is filled with expensive new purchases
  • They have difficulty with simple tasks like balancing their checkbook
  • Bills have been paid repeatedly or not paid at all
  • Bills that seem much higher than they should be and cannot be explained
  • Donations to charity that do not match your parents priorities


Raising the topic might be difficult. Older adults may be resistant to relinquishing control of their finances. They may see this as the first step of losing their independence, which is one of the top two concerns for older adults. Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families from AARP gives helpful insight on how to start the conversation. They suggest:

  1. Look for an opening: You might use an article you read about or something you saw in the news to raise the topic.
  2. Respect your loved one’s wishes: Your plan must be centered on the person receiving care.
  3. Size up the situation: Figuring out your loved one’s priorities help determine your next steps
  4. Counter resistance: Your loved one might say, “I just don’t want to talk about it.” Some people are private by nature. If your first conversation does not go well, try again.

Managing your own finances can be challenging enough, and you aren’t excited about taking on the task of managing your parents finances as well. Addressing the topic can be awkward, but if no one steps in to help, the assets that your parents spent a lifetime accumulating could be lost.


Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County

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listIt’s hard to believe that we are approaching the beginning of 2017. This is the time when many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions.  Do you make a resolution or two each year? How successful are you at fulfilling your resolutions?

I recently saw a definition of a New Year’s Resolution as a “to do list” for the first week in January!

For many people, unfortunately, this joke is their reality. Research shows that only 8% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved. Some say that the reason our resolutions don’t work is that they are sometimes based on wishful thinking. Who doesn’t want to be happier, thinner, fit, more financially secure, etc.!  If only we could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Since that’s not possible, how can we help to ensure that the changes we want to see for ourselves are carried out?

The best advice for making positive changes in our lives is to be ready for the challenge.  There are  two basic strategies that can help you be successful:

1st Set realistic goals

  • Choose one or two achievable goals.
  • Don’t be overly aggressive with behavior change – take it slow!
  • Write them down. If you can see them each day, it may give you the motivation you need.

2nd Create an environment that will help you to succeed.

  • If you want to lose weight or become more fit, find an activity that you enjoy.
  • Ask others to help. A walking buddy can help you commit to that daily walk.
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit (or vegetable) every afternoon as a snack. This behavior helps you increase your fruit and veggie intake which may lead to behavior changes that encourage weight loss.
  • Don’t buy junk food – fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food and snacks.
  • If saving money is your goal, be sure you know the difference between your “wants” and “needs”.
  • Increase your money management skills by taking a class on budgeting or finance.

As you are making these new habits a part of your life, it would be good to avoid places, people, and situations that you know encourage your old habits. Stay away from people who try to sabotage your plans for a healthier life. Start with a small change and once it becomes a habit, explore the next step that you can take to achieve your overall goal.

Set some milestone markers and reward yourself when you reach them. That first marker might be walking at least 3 days per week when your goal is 5 days.  Buy yourself something fun – maybe a new pair of funky socks.

Maybe most importantly, don’t expect perfection!  Remember, you want this to be a new-years-resolutionlifelong change. There will be times that you will slip back into old habits but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your goals. Recognize your mistake, refocus and move forward.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County








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centennial-logo-smith-leverWhen I started my “second career” as an Extension Educator I knew there were things I “knew” and things I did not “know” regarding Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS).  One learns that with age comes the reality that you don’t know everything nor do you need to – that’s why we have experts in their fields.  As a FCS Educator I knew there was one area that I lacked knowledge in but was to be a good part of the position in my county – Food Preservation.  Okay, growing up my mother was known to can food from time to time but I really do not recall much about it.  So when I was preparing to interview for the position I asked my mother if she could share with me what she knew about canning.  Her response “What kind of job teaches canning?”  Thank you mom!

Well, Extension and the position of a FCS Educator do teach about food preservation.  I was worried that people would call with food preservation questions and I could not provide them with a timely answer (let’s face it – people often call when they are in the middle of canning).  Or worse – look incompetent!

 So I, along with fellow FCS Educators who knew little about pressure and water bath canning (and uncertain whether or not we wanted to learn), set about increasing my canning knowledge.  At times I read science-based information and recipes, went to pressure and water bath canning in-services taught by OSU Extension Food Preservation Team, I asked questions, and did some practicing.  When I had food presnew-educator-canning-class-2016ervation classes I would bring along an OSU Extension Food Preservation “guru” when possible (after all my county deserves the best).  But what actually happened is that people from my county and surrounding counties contacted me again and again and again and I became immersed in food preservation.  Much of the time I told them I needed to consult the “Food Preservation Gurus” and get back with them.  Then, guess what?  I learned more and more, year after year.

Three years later I feel confident and capable to share the knowledge I have gained in food preservation with consumers who call needing information.  In fact, I now look forward to these food preservation questions.  With each call I no longer tremble and hide under my desk but instead say “bring it on” and “I can assist you!”

As humans we are lifelong learners which in part make our lives meaningful.  New brain cells can grow even in late adulthood and exercising your brain with new challenges will help to keep it healthy.  This can be done through a traditional academic course, by learning a new skill or improving on current ones.  If you would like to learn in a non-formal setting connect with Cooperative Extension.   There is an Extension office in every county in the United States that provides university-based research and learning opportunities to the peopleSo not only do I enjoy a position in which I get to share knowledge with people, families, and communities through Extension…I get to learn along with everyone else.  So check back with me in a few years because you might find I have been invited to join the OSU Extension Food Preservation Team as a “guru.”


WRITTEN BY: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY:  Kate Shumaker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County, shumaker.68@osu.edu







Photo Sources:


OSU Extension New Educator Canning Class – 2016

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The next time you are looking for health and wellness information, check out the recorded webinars on our Live Healthy Live Well Blog site. Webinars last 25 to 30 minutes and cover a variety or topics on healthy relationships, healthy finances, and healthy people. You can watch the webinar or listen to the recording to gather information on topics like Local Foods, Holiday Stress, Supermarket Starts, Sun Safety, and much more. New webinars will be added frequently, so check back soon!

http://go.osu.edu/LHLWwebinars tablet-690032_1280


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Everyone thinks the elderly are the most at risk for being scam victims.  We have young adultsstereotyped that the “less educated, less intelligent, elderly, lower income, and less financially secure” at the most at risk for a scam.  However, according to a survey by the Council of Better Business Bureaus found roughly 30 percent of those aged 25 to 34 were scam victims and only 10 percent of those age 55 and older were scammed.

One of the co-authors on the study thinks the elderly may be more savvy about scams than those under 35.  Why is that?  For one thing the elderly are usually less impulsive buyers than younger people and are less likely to purchase online, where more scams happen.

The Better Business Bureau recommends two things you can do to help yourself and others.  One is if you are a victim, report what happened and warn others.  This will help you feel empowered as you gain some control in the situation.  It will also help others.

The second thing to do is learn about the latest scams and methods villains are using to swindle people.     Knowledge of what scams and the scam methods could possibly help people froroad-sign-464653__180m being taken.

According to the Better Business Bureau the 10 Top Scams in 2015 were:

  1. Tax Scam – Someone claiming to be from the IRS calls you and says you owe back taxes.  They say you have to pay now in order not be arrested or face legal consequences.
  2. Tech Support Scam – Someone contacts you saying your computer has a security threat or a virus.  They claim they will fix it if you allow them to have control of your computer.
  3. Sweepstakes or Lottery Scam – They claim you have won a prize but you have to send money for delivery.
  4. Advance Fee Loan Scam – After completing a loan application online you are told you need to send a processing fee, security deposit or insurance to get the money (which doesn’t come).
  5. Fake Check Scam – You receive a check but it was more money than it should be. You are told to deposit it and wire the difference, but you end up with no money and sending money to them.     road-sign-464641__180 (1)
  6. Debt Collection Scam – Someone calls claiming you haven’t paid a debt and you could go to jail, if you don’t pay immediately. Crook often claims to be with the government or law enforcement.
  7. Credit Card Scam- Someone calls claiming they need to verify your account or a recent transaction. Don’t ever give them your account numbers and security codes over the phone.
  8. Home Improvement Scam – Someone offering to fix what is wrong demands payment before doing the work. You pay and then the person never does the work.
  9. Government Grant Scam – Receiving a call or letter that you have qualified for a government grant, you are asked to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card for a “processing” or “delivery” fee.
  10. Work-From-Home Scam – Completing an online job application for an alluring job, you are told you have to pay an advance fee for materials and information. They may take your money and/or steal your identity.

Check things out carefully before you get scammed!

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer:  Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension


Connecticut News. (2016).  New Better Business Bureau Study Reveals Widespread Misconceptions About Those Most at Risk of Getting Scammed.  Available at http://www.bbb.org/connecticut/news-events/news-releases/2016/07/new-better-business-bureau-study-reveals-widespread-misconceptions-about-those-most-at-risk-of-getting-scammed/

Eisenberg, R. (2016). Surprise! Millennials More Likely to Be Scam Victims Than Boomers:  A BBB study bursts the myth of the duped little old lady.  Available at  http://www.nextavenue.org/surprise-millennials-likely-scam-victims-boomers/

Steinberg, J. (2016).  Warning! Millennials and Gen-Zers are More Vulnerable to Scams than Senior Citizens.  Inc.  Available at http://www.inc.com/joseph-steinberg/warning-millennials-and-gen-xers-are-more-vulnerable-to-scams-than-senior-citiz.html

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