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Archive for the ‘Healthy Finances’ Category

Picture of Trash

I can remember growing up in Michigan in the 70s and 80s, we would get our first snowfall around Thanksgiving, and we wouldn’t see grass until late March. Every year here in southern Ohio, it seems the idea of a white Christmas is a thing of the past. The past decade has seen the warmest average temperatures on record. Climate experts paint an ominous picture for our planets’ future and our overall quality of life. Issues such as plastic pollution and food waste contribute to climate warming and also immediate wellbeing.

If you are looking to set a New Years resolution, consider some ideas that are eco-friendly. Here are a few ideas:

  • Buy and use reusable straws. Keep them on hand and refuse single use straws at restaurants.
  • Stop using single use plastic bags. Keep reusable bags in your cars so you don’t forget them when running into the grocery store.
  • Freeze left overs and use ingredients later in smoothies, soups, etc.
  • Start a compost pile for food waste. Keep an old coffee bin in the kitchen to discard food scraps.
  • Start using bar soap or refill soap containers to avoid purchasing plastic bottles.
  • Reuse glass jars, Tupperware, and beeswax wrap to store food and leftovers instead of single use plastic sandwich bags.
  • Refill a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Participate in a neighborhood clean up or roadside garbage pick up.

These are just a few ideas. Small changes can really add up over a lifetime. The actions of millions of people can can collectively reduce the amount of plastic and food going into landfills and contributing to climate change.

Author: Dan Remley, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. Associate Professor, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, M.P.H., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension

Sources:

Beyond Plastics. (2021). THE NEW COAL: PLASTICS AND CLIMATE CHANGE. REPORT: The New Coal: Plastics & Climate Change — Beyond Plastics – Working To End Single-Use Plastic Pollution

Ohio State University Extension. Sustainable Action through Video Engagement (S.A.V.E.). Sustainability in the Kitchen. Left-overs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlDXy80yraY

Ohio State University Extension. Sustainable Action through Video Engagement (S.A.V.E.). Sustainability in the Kitchen: Single Use Plastics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CangcvETxk

Ohio State University Extension. Sustainable Action through Video Engagement (S.A.V.E.).Composting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lOMPTRj7eE

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This time of year can be more comfortable than the dog days of summer to work on cleaning projects around your home. There are many reasons that people choose to make their own cleaning mixtures. For some, it is the simple knowledge of what they are using. Unlike food labels, all ingredients on cleaning products are not required to be listed on the packaging.

Amber spray bottles with homemade cleaners

Some people are very sensitive to chemical compounds found in commercial cleaning products. According to University of Arkansas Extension Specialist Margaret Harris, about 16 percent of individuals are extremely sensitive to chemicals, easily breaking out in rashes or with other chronic ailments.

People may also be interested in making their own cleaners because of environmental concerns. There are certainly more “green” labeled products than there used to be. Unfortunately, they can also come with a hefty price tag. Therefore, another reason to make your own household cleaners is that the ingredients are relatively inexpensive.

There are several characteristics of different cleaner ingredients. One category is base or alkali, which are good for removing dirt, fat, and grease. In homemade cleaners, these ingredients are baking soda (mild), borax (moderate), and washing soda (strong).

Cleaners and ingredients including castille soap, hydrogen peroxide, salt, baking soda, borax, washing soda and a spray bottle

Acids are used to break down rust, mineral deposits, and hard water stains. They can also be good for glass, windows, and mold. Vinegar and lemon juice are common acids that can be used. Detergents loosen dirt and lift it up and out of the way. Washing soda and borax, as well as vegetable and coconut oils, act as detergents.

Just like they sound, abrasives wear off dirt by rubbing. Baking soda or salt can be used for this purpose. Bleaches and sanitizers can involve more than chlorine bleach. Milder sources that can whiten, remove stains, as well as reduce numbers of bacteria include sunlight, hydrogen peroxide, and tea tree oil.

One thing to remember with most homemade recipes is that they may take more contact time or elbow grease than some commercial cleaners. Patience and persistence are key. The University of Arkansas has several recipes available for a variety of cleaning purposes.

I appreciate that they have a mild, stronger, and strongest version for every situation. They recommend starting with the mildest formulation and increasing the strength of ingredients only when needed. Here is an example of all-purpose cleaners:

Mild All-Purpose Cleaner

½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, ½ gallon hot water. Mix ingredients and pour into a spray bottle.

Strong All-Purpose Cleaner

2 tablespoons borax, ¼ cup white vinegar, 2 cups hot water. Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle.

Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”

Unknown

Extra Strength All-Purpose Cleaner

3 tablespoons white vinegar, ½ teaspoon washing soap, ½ teaspoon castile soap, 2 cups hot water. Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle.

A few drops of essential oils could be added to any of these.

It is also helpful to know where to purchase some of these ingredients that we may not be as familiar with. Washing soda and borax are powders and are both located in the laundry section of the grocery store. Castile soap comes in liquid and bar form and can be found either with shampoos and hand soaps or in natural/organic sections of supermarkets. Happy cleaning!

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Melissa J. Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

Sources:

Harris, M. Clean and Green: Healthy Homes, Healthy People. University of Arkansas Extension Publication MP 492. https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/MP492.pdf

Keel, M. and Hinds, B. (2015) Make Your Home Healthy – Keep It Clean. University of Tennessee Extension Publication W318-A. https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W318-A.pdf

Rabe, M. (2015). Fall Cleaning. Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2015/08/17/fall-cleaning/

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Soups, stews, casseroles, and stuffing. There are many popular recipes this time of year that call for the use of broths and stocks. Not sure of the difference between broths and stocks? One of our blogs has the answer. While not too expensive, you probably have everything you need to make your own broth at home- you might even be throwing it away! 

At home, we keep a freezer bag for storing our cooking scraps. The bottom and tops of celery, red and white onions, carrots, green onions, leftover herbs, a small piece of shriveling bell pepper that wasn’t used. When the bag becomes full, we dump it all into our pressure cooker, cover it with water, and in a short time, we have stock. This is also a wonderful time to look in the fridge and pantry for other items that might be good additions: garlic cloves, a knob of ginger, I’ve even added a softening apple to the pot. 

There are hundreds of recipes online promising the perfect proportion of ingredients to make the best vegetable broth. As a sustainable alternative, here’s my method for making vegetable broth at home from things you already have. Put fresh and/or frozen vegetables and herbs into a pot, cover with water, simmer for about an hour. If you’d like to speed up the process you could use a stove or countertop pressure cooker. Once the broth is to color and flavor you like, strain, and use in your favorite recipe. While not an exact science, this method allows for simple, free, clean-out the kitchen broth.

Another benefit of storing scraps in a freezer is that it allows flexibility to use the items when it fits into your schedule. In addition to the cost-savings, convenience, and eco-friendly benefits of making broth at home, there are health benefits as well. You can control the amount of salt going into the broth, and by doing so, into the final dish. So next time you are slicing and dicing your way to a delicious meal, consider saving your scraps to give them new life!

Sources:

Christensen, E. (2020, October 24). How to make vegetable stock (it’s so easy!). Kitchn. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-vegetable-stock-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-136725.

Riley, J. (2020, January 8). Broth versus stock. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/02/03/broth-versus-stock/.

USDA. (n.d.). Recipes- Soups and Stews. MyPlate. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes?f%5B0%5D=course%3A127.

Author: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, woelfl.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Katie Schlagheck, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Ottawa and Sandusky Counties, Ohio State University Extension

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Conversations about money might be uncomfortable for some people. When speaking with individuals about money I often hear comments like, “I don’t have enough money to budget” Or “it’s so overwhelming I don’t know where to start”. According to a FINRA Investor Education Foundation survey, 60% of those surveyed feel anxious when thinking of their finances and 50% felt stressed discussing their finances. If you are like many, you just want to know how to get started. One of my favorite sayings from Aristotle (and Mary Poppins) is “well begun is half done”.

Person with face in her hands near a computer

So here are three basic steps to get started.

 1. Reduce debt

 2. Increase savings

3. Make a plan

Let’s break it down.

First, know your debt. Make a list of each item you owe, the length of time until paid off, and the percentage rate. This information allows you to plan for debt reduction with the most success. The interest rate directly impacts the amount of tomorrow’s money you’re using today. Consider the types of debt you may have: credit card or revolving debt, installment debt like car payments, and student loan debt. Using an online tool like Powerpay will help you form a plan to reduce debt with the most effectiveness.

Second, begin to save or increase your savings. Establishing an emergency fund can help you avoid future credit card use by having funds available when emergencies happen. In addition, establishing a savings account can help you plan for future goals. The emergency fund is for the unexpected while the savings are for the expected. There are many ways to begin saving, choose what works best for you, and then stick to it. It could be automatic deposit from a paycheck into a savings account, saving change in a jar and taking it to the bank when full, setting aside extra funds from bonuses, overtime, or tax returns, or utilizing a savings app on the phone. Whichever you choose, resolve to start today!

Lastly, it’s time to make a plan, a spending plan that is! If you have never formed a budget (also known as a spending plan) now is a great time to start. A spending plan is an intentional look at the money you need each month to meet your obligations. Start with fixed expenses like mortgage or rent payment, loan payments, and utilities. Then, consider flexible expenses like food, entertainment, gifts, and clothing.  To get started you may choose to use a calendar or notebook to record all of your expenses and income. This allows you to track when, how much, and what you are purchasing. Using a tool like Eight Easy Exercises can help you shape your budget.

Well begun is half done. What can you begin today to improve your financial well-being tomorrow?

Written by: Melissa J. Rupp, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County.

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County.

References:

https://gflec.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Anxiety-and-Stress-Report-GFLEC-FINRA-FINAL.pdf?x85507America Saves (September 14, 2021)

https://americasaves.org/resource-center/insights/54-ways-to-save-money/ (September 14, 2021)

https://www.fdic.gov/resources/consumers/consumer-news/2021-02.html (September 14, 2021)

Photo by Pixabay

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The pandemic has caused ripples of uncertainty and concern in all areas of life. At the start of the pandemic, people sheltered in place and stayed home. Children began virtual learning, some employees transitioned to a home office environment. For others though, the transition was not as easy. People lost work or income which threatened the security of their homes.

A study by the Census Bureau shows that 38% of homeowners and 54% of renters in Ohio lost employment income between March 2020 and March 2021. This loss of income in part has led 9% of homeowners and 18% of renters in the state to be behind on their housing payments. Many of these households were able to stay in their homes due to federal housing protections, but those expired on July 31.

If you are having trouble making your housing payment, it is important to act if you want to prevent foreclosure or eviction.

Help for renters and landlords

The CDC announced on August 3 an eviction moratorium that would temporarily stop eviction in places where COVID-19 was spreading rapidly. You still need to take action to help prevent eviction. If you already completed a CDC Declaration, you will be coved by it until October 3, 2021. If you have not, you can see if you qualify and then may complete the form and give to your landlord.

As a renter or a landlord you can apply to a state or local program for money from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. This money can cover back rent, including utilities, that came due during the COVID-19 pandemic. Money may also be available to cover moving costs. There may also be additional assistance in your area, this tool allows you to filter by state and county.

Help for homeowners

If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments you may have mortgage relief options, like forbearance, available to you. Forbearance is a plan in which your servicer can pause or reduce your payments while you recover from financial hardship. You will need to know who your mortgage servicer is and contact them as soon as possible to come up with a plan to prevent foreclosure.

The longer you wait to contact your mortgage servicer or the further you fall behind on payments it may be harder to find a solution. If you have further questions or need additional assistance please contact a housing counselor or the Legal Aid Society in your area.

Written by: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Woelfl.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, powers-barker.1

Updated 8/9/2021 to reflect new CDC eviction moratorium.


If you are having trouble making your housing payment, it is important to act if you want to prevent foreclosure or eviction.

References

The Financial Pressures on Households Vary Considerably by State. Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies tabulations of US Census Bureau, Household Pulse Surveys, January–March 2021.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Multiple pages. ConsumerFinance.gov and https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/

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Spring is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. It is a good time to take inventory of our health, financial, and relationship habits to consider what personal spring cleaning may be in order.

A few years ago, I came across the phrase “future self.” The concept is the way we see ourselves at some point in the future impacts our behavior today. When you think of yourself 5, 10, or 20 years into the future, who do you see? Our thoughts, actions, and behaviors today directly affect who we will become in the future.

Coins in glass pot with a green plant growing out

Hal Herschfield is a researcher of behavioral finance. He and his colleagues asked 1,500 people how similar they felt to their future self. Some people imagined themselves in the future regularly. Others felt distant from this future person. They tended to think more about the present without considering its impact on the future. The study found that people who felt most similar to their future selves had accumulated the most assets over time, even taking into account factors like age, education, and  income.

When you think about your current habits and attitudes, where is your trajectory leading you? Research shows us that there are best practices to aim for to give us better opportunities to experience healthy and vibrant lives as we age. We hear about things we should do all the time. However, it is a juxtaposition as American individuals desire to be unique and independent and not compare ourselves to others. However, comparing yourself to health and wealth benchmarks could help add years to your life, or at least a better quality life to your years.

Older couple fast dancing

Try this spring-cleaning inventory with a simple check-in regarding your health, your finances, and your relationships:

  • What are your numbers compared to recommendations for blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels?
  • How are you doing eating the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits recommended for adults to consume each day?
  • How much physical activity do you engage in over a week compared to the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate activity?
  • In the event of an emergency do you have enough money in your emergency savings to pay for 3 months of household expenses?
  • How are you doing with debt? Try calculating your debt-to-income ratio to see. The benchmark is below 0.15 or 15 percent.
  • Are you keeping up with friends and family? Are you investing time into the lives of your children, adult children, grandchildren, and other friends and neighbors?
Three generations, grandmother, mother and daughter knitting together

If you are not where you want to be with some of these questions right now, are you moving in the right direction? Choose just one to “spring clean” during the month of April. We may not have arrived yet, but we can be on an intentional journey to the future self we imagine.

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

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

Sources:

Hershfield., Hal. “Considering the future self”. Hal Hershfield. 2020. https://www.halhershfield.com/considering-the-future-self .

O’Neil, Barbara and others. “Compare Yourself with Recommended Benchmarks”. Small Steps to Health and Wealth™. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 2021.https://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/workbook/13_Compare_Yourself_With_Recommended_Benchmarks.pdf .

Powell, Sharon. “How much debt is too much?” Home and financial management. University of Minnesota Extension. 2020. https://extension.umn.edu/credit-and-debt/how-much-debt-too-much-debt#sources-652860

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Ready or not, the holiday season is right around the corner! Between black Friday, cyber Monday, and giving Tuesday, there is a lot of pressure to overspend around the holidays. Add in out-of-town visitors, shopping, travel, and overeating, and there you have the recipe for a stressful holiday season.

When we realize we have put off saving for the holidays…again, panic sets in. This panic can cause us to overspend and end up paying for the holidays, emotionally and financially, all the way through tax season.  With a little bit of pre-planning, this year can be…well… enjoyable.

September is the perfect time to decide your holiday spending goals and take some of the stress out of your holiday season. Here are 3 simple steps to help you.

  1. Determine how much you can afford to spend, without having to borrow funds.

The easiest way to determine your budget is to look at what you spent last year. Your budget should include what you will spend on gifts, wrapping, food, parties, special clothing, transportation, baking supplies and anything else you choose for a holly-jolly time. This number is a great start but remember, you can always make changes. Were you comfortable with what you spent last year? Do you want to spend a little more or less? Have your circumstances changed over the past year that impacts your cash flow? Just because it was done one way in the past does not dictate that is how it always has to be. For most of us, holidays are more about family, friends, and the joy of the season, than about who can have the biggest, brightest, most extravagant holiday.

2. Multiply your total by 25% and divide your total by three.

Cindy Clampet, Oklahoma State University Extension, recommends adding a buffer of 25% to the amount you spent last year. This can help offset any cost increases and any expenses you might have forgotten from last year. According to Gallup’s survey on the 2019 spending, the average person spent $942 on holiday gifts alone. Therefore, if all holds true, then for 2020 the budget would be $1,178. Divide this total by three and that comes to saving $393 per month. When looking at your monthly income and expenses, if this amount is too much, go back and look at last year’s expenses and determine which areas you can decrease.

3. Create a holiday budget breakdown.

Don’t be tempted to overspend within your holiday budget. This can be very easily done when you look at your account balance, you don’t always recognize how much was planned for travel, food, gifts, etc. The envelope system is a good way to keep it all organized. The idea is to divide cash in separate envelopes for different budget categories and then use cash to make your purchases. The envelopes help you to visually see how much money you have left in each area.  Some find that paying for everything with cash, rather than a card, helps control spending and keep them on budget.

If you have a budgeting or financial question, OSU Extension is here to help. Go to: go.osu.edu/AskOSUExtension and ask our experts your financial question.

References:

America Saves, (ND). How to use the envelope budget system. Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from https://americasaves.org/local-campaigns/kentucky-saves/blog/1350-how-to-use-the-envelope-budget-system

Barlage, L., (2018). Outside the Box Gift Ideas. Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from   https://livehealthyosu.com/2018/12/06/outside-the-box-gift-ideas/

Barlage, L., (2019). Saving Money when Budgets are Tight. Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from  https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/01/17/saving-money-when-budgets-are-tight/

Kennedy, S., (2018). De-stress your holidays with these smart spending tips. University of Florida. Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/2018/11/27/de-stress-your-holidays-with-these-smart-spending-tips/

Ohio State Extension, (ND). Eight Easy Exercises for Financial Fitness. Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/8_Easy_Financial_Fitness.pdf

Oklahoma State University, (2019). Planning now can ease financial strain of 2019 holiday season. Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from https://news.okstate.edu/articles/agricultural-sciences-natural-resources/2019/holiday_budgeting.html

Saad, L., (2019). Americans plan to spend generously this Christmas. Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from https://news.gallup.com/poll/267914/americans-plan-spend-generously-christmas.aspx#:~:text=Consumers%20anticipate%20spending%20an%20average,Gallup%20trending%20of%20this%20measure.

Written by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Kellie Lemly, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Photos by rawpixel.com, Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash, and Marissa Daeger on Unsplash

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"Fake news" on wooden game tiles.

Misinformation, disinformation, fake news…. All these terms, in general, describe the same thing: information that is out of context, missing details, lacking reputable sources, or is just plain false. We hear about misinformation within the context of world or political news a lot, but misleading information can appear elsewhere. Misleading and incorrect information shared about health and wellness and can lead to health decisions that could put you at risk. If something seems suspicious, it might be worth a fact check!

Mediawise, a branch of the fact-checking site Poynter suggests these three questions when looking to discover if something is factual or missing the mark.

  1. Who published the information?
    • By answering this question, you may uncover a potential bias by the author or agency. For example, a company selling a weight loss supplement may not be the best place to learn about a new “miracle” vitamin that the company is selling. A good place to begin this step of the fact-check is to look at who is sharing the information and how they will benefit from such a claim.
  2. What is the evidence?
    • Looking more into the evidence behind the claim can shed light on information that supports or discounts the claim. This article claims, “Teenager left ‘blind’ from diet of Pringles, chips and bread”.  When reading this headline alone, it is easy to be skeptical of the information presented. Looking at the evidence, it is a BBC article and they are a reputable news source without a bias for reporting the story. They interview experts familiar to the case in question and share the science behind what happened. The article also cites a case study from a reputable medical journal that shows further evidence to support the headline’s claim.
  3. What do other sources say?
    • A search of keywords in the suspicious article is a good way to find out what other sources say about the topic. When investigating a “miracle” vitamin or fact checking another claim, look for trustworthy, evidence-based sources. Depending on the topic, a reputable fact checking site may have already done the work for you!

Doing a fact-check only takes a few moments, it can help you make evidence-based decisions. A fact check might just prevent you from sharing misleading or false information on your social media feed.


Author: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Cuyahoga County

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County         


Sources:

Roberts, M. BBC. (2019). Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-49551337

WBUR. (2020). ‘Everything’s Worth A Fact-Check’: Network Teaches Teens To Debunk Online Myths. https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/08/11/mediawise-teen-fact-checking-network

World Health Organization (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters.  https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters#pepper

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I have been de-cluttering my home for the past three months. Rather, I have been trying to de-clutter! At the same time, I have had to manage my finances in “new” ways to meet the continuously emerging needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. I took a trip down memory lane as I opened my Hope Chest to add and subtract items.

What is a Hope Chest? Historically, the term hope chest symbolizes hope in a marriage. The hope chest itself is an important vessel that a newly married woman could one day hand down to her own daughter. Traditional cedar hope chests were also used to help protect fabrics and to give the items inside a pleasant aroma. Key words include vessel and a symbol of hope.

What would a 2020 Hope Chest need to look like and contain? In these changing times, the vessel needs to live in a virtual world and be an action of hope.

Ohio State University Extension designed a Hope Chest to “help people help themselves” amidst these uncertain times.  A temporary or transitional spending plan is needed to build hope and manage financial stress.

The purpose of the Hope Chest is for individuals and families to –

  1. Prioritize spending by separating needs from wants
  2. Identify realistic/SMART goals
  3. Gather current financial spending and saving information
  4. Evaluate COVID-19 pandemic emergency resources
  5. Develop a “new” Accounting for Your Money calendar
  6. Get through the next 6-months using Accounting for Your Money calendar
  7. Re-evaluate and adjust the transitional spending plan monthly

Directions for use of “Accounting for Your Money” Hope Chest

Begin by reviewing Steps 1 through 7 to obtain an overall picture of the components of the Hope Chest. After reviewing the components, you are ready to begin completing the steps.

Complete Steps 1 and 2 within a week. For Step 3 collect spending records before you add the information to the “Spending Tracker Tool” and “Income and Benefits Tool”.

Steps 4 and 5 include evaluating resources and developing a transitional spending plan.

Steps 6 and 7 will occur over the next 6 months. Completing all the steps will help manage your spending and saving habits.

Work on the steps with your family members/co-spenders and discuss your basic wants and needs. Determine how to best spend your money during the pandemic. Your family will be empowered to meet the new challenges brought about by the pandemic emergency and ease future financial stress.

Post evaluations of this program indicate that most individuals who complete the seven-step process reveal they have/find additional money to use for meeting personal goals.

Click here to “make money now” and start filling your Hope Chest!

Written by:  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County jenkins.188@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

References:

Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences (2020). COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide at fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-finances-0/covid-19-financial-resource-guide

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2020). Your Money Your Goals at consumerfinance.gov/practitioner-resources/your-money-your-goals


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COVID-19, social distancing and recent stay at home orders have impacted all aspects of life, including our finances. Protecting health has been a top priority in recent times.  We all need to be following guidelines and making our best efforts to stay physically and mentally healthy to prevent disease. Maintaining financial health during these times is also critically important. Financial wellness is an aspect of wellness that focuses on the successful management of finances. Improve your financial wellness today with these tips:

  • Create a budget. Take a close look at your spending and adjust your budget accordingly.  Saving wherever possible will help your budget in the future.
  • Establish an emergency fund. If you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. If you have money set aside for non-essential spending or travel, consider using these monies for emergencies instead. Any amount you can put aside to help support you and your household during an emergency will make an impact on your finances.
  • Pay down high-interest debt. If you have any high-interest debt (besides credit card debt) a personal loan or similar and your income has not yet decreased, consider paying off that debt now. The benefits of reducing debt are immense as this provides financial freedom.
  • Consider a balance transfer. Transferring any credit card balances to a 0% for 12-18 months is an option.  Look for no- or low-fee transfers and do your research on any new credit cards before committing. This will give you time to pay down the balance interest free which will free up more cash on hand for the unexpected and add to an emergency fund.
  • Look at your investments. Fight the urge to take a loss and withdraw all your money from the market. For mid-long-term time, it is important to stay the course.  No one can predict what will happen short term, yet over the long run, the economy and markets will come back.
  • Consider insurance options. Some insurance rates may have dropped offering discounted rates. Contact your insurance providers to see if you are eligible for a discount or lower rate. Compare rates with different providers.
  • Talk with your family about money. Discuss how market fluctuations are normal and be open about any negative impacts on your finances. Discuss ways you can save money as a family.
  • Get your credit reports.  AnnualCreditReport.com provides a yearly free credit report.  Read over your reports carefully for any suspicious activity.  If your reports reveal negative borrowing habits from your past, brainstorm ideas to correct them and improve your score.

Practicing financial wellness can have positive mental health benefits, including boosted self-confidence. Take charge of your finances today and be prepared for the future.

For free financial assistance, contact us at:  go.osu.edu/FinancialAssistance

Written by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Preparing a Net Worth Statement. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5245

Ohio Line, Ohio State University Extension. Some Options for Resourceful Living. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5248

 

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