Posts Tagged ‘Saving Money’

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


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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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



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 a work 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.


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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As we come to the close of 2012 and begin a new year, this is a great time to start looking at ways to improve your health and wealth in 2013.  Most people think of health and wealth as “separate “ goals, but in fact, both aspects of life are closely related. Here are a few steps to consider:

Build “Health Capital”

Health is a financial asset, just like stocks and bonds. It decreases the odds of costly medical bills today and/or later in life. Eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress. Without good health, you can’t earn an income and build wealth.

Don’t Burn Your Money

Quit smoking or don’t start. An average pack of cigarettes costs $5. Multiply $5 by 365 days and you could save $1,825 a year, plus interest (not to mention all the positive health effects!). Invest $1,825 in a fund averaging 7% interest and you’ll have $9,904 in 25 years.

Junk the “Junk Food”

Just cut it out: soda, fast food, fatty pastries, chips…you know the drill. Not only will you lose weight (trimming 100 calories a day = 10 pounds of annual weight loss), but you’ll pocket the savings. Save $7 a day on “empty calorie” foods and drinks and you’ll have over $2,500 in a year.

Half-Size Food Portions

Instead of eating 4 cookies a day, eat two. Bring half a meal home from restaurants and eat less at home. Getting two meals from one can save hundreds of dollars (and thousands of calories) annually. For example, saving $3 a day by “doubling up” results in savings of over $1,000 a year.

Stay Fit to Work

Maintaining good health increases the odds of being productive and working as long as you want to instead of retiring because you have to (e.g., disability). This can translate into thousands of dollars at retirement. One study compared retiring at age 60 due to poor health with working (and saving) until 65. The difference: $14,300 in annual income from increased savings and delayed cash withdrawals.positive

Sweat the Small Stuff

“Little” things matter! Healthy habits that save big bucks over time include washing your hands frequently (especially before handling food) to avoid the expense of flu and cold treatments and flossing your teeth to help prevent periodontal disease.

Think Positively

Studies have shown that the personality trait of optimism is positively associated with health and wealth. When people expect good things to happen, they work toward their goals by taking action. Examples include exercising regularly and saving money. What we think about, we often bring about and positive thoughts can lead to positive results.

Source: http://www.extension.org/pages/32288/monthly-investment-message-jan-11

Reviewed by: Kelly Gonyer, Office Associate, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Wood County.

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Holiday spending can put a lot of stress on you and your wallet.  In this economy, you cannot possibly give your children or grandchildren everything they want.  Instead of adding more stress to your life by having bills pile up in the New Year, this holiday season can be made special by giving more of yourself, and your time.  Think of thoughtful gifts that do not have to cost a lot in money but are truly given from the heart.

Start by making a list of all the things that you want to do for the holidays.  This may include a list of names of those you will give gifts to, holiday decorations that you want to buy, and special events that you want to attend.  Then put dollar figures beside each of these activities.  Set realistic dollar figures for each of your budget items.  Make them reasonable and affordable for you family. For example you might have a budget of $15-$20 per person for gifts, $50 for special events, and $75-$100 for decorations.

Much of our holiday spending is impulsive.  Shop with a list and stick to it.   Avoid using credit cards if possible so as not to incur debt that will haunt you in the New Year.  Take advantage of sales by shopping early in the season.  Don’t be that last minute shopper.

As an alternative to purchasing gifts, consider giving gifts of items that you already have and give gifts from your heart.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Consider giving a special piece of jewelry or glassware that a daughter or granddaughter admires.
  • A start from a plant that a friend would like to have.  Buy a pretty pot and give this new plant to your friend.
  • Do you make jams and jellies or other canned items that friends and relatives would like?  Make decorative jar toppers and give canned items as gifts.
  • Old photos that relatives would like to have.  Make copies and put into an album as a holiday gift.

Don’t think you have to break the bank to make the holidays special.  These gifts from the heart can be the most treasured gifts to receive.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

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

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A recent study has shown that more than 200 pounds of food per American is wasted every year in the U.S.  Stocking up on good buys at the supermarket and whole sale clubs can save you money, but not if the food goes bad before you use it and it is thrown away.   Whether it’s from the dairy, deli, bakery or meat and seafood departments, keeping food fresh not only saves you money, but it may also help prevent foodborne illness.

To help keep your food tasting  fresh and last longer, follow these tips:


  • Berries are often piled up in containers on top of each other causing some of the bottom containers to get crushed.  To check for condition of the berries, turn the container to see if the berries move freely.  If they don’t, they could be crushed together.  Also check berries for mold.  Store in refrigerator and wash only before using them.  Water can cause spoilage.
  • Melons including honeydew or cantaloupe should not have a stem; otherwise it will be underripe.  Ripe melons pull easily from the vine.  Sweet melons will smell fragrant and feel heavy for their size.   Ripe melons should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two weeks.  Cut melons should be stored in an airtight container and eaten within three to four days.
  • Onions and potatoes should not have sprouts which can cause spoilage.  They should be stored separately in a dark area away from heat and sunlight.  They should never be refrigerated.
  • Leafy greens should be purchased only when brightly colored and stored loosely in a plastic bag on a refrigerator shelf.  Avoid cramming them into produce drawers as this can cause bruising.
  • Tomatoes should be fragrant and feel heavy for their size.  Refrigeration changes the flavor; store them on the counter.

Deli Department:

  • Cheese should be cut when you’re ready to eat it.  Purchase cheese in blocks so it doesn’t dry out.  Rewrap cheese when you store it in the refrigerator to avoid picking up other flavors.
  • Deli meats are best purchased cut-to-order and should have a fresh bright color.  If purchasing packaged meat, watch for signs of spoilage such as sliminess.  Most deli meats should be eaten with three to four days.  Don’t leave any deli meat at room temperature longer than two hours; otherwise it should be thrown away.
  • Deli Salads should look fresh and not have a crust around the edge.  Ask the clerk if the salad was made fresh that day; if not, don’t purchase it.

Meat and Seafood:

  • Meat should not show signs of spoilage, such as an off odor or slimy appearance.  Always check the sell-by and use-by date, and avoid any meat with a package that leaks.  Store a cooler in your car during hot summer months to bring home perishables like meat and seafood.
  • Fish should be brightly colored and not have an off odor.  If using within a day, store in its wrapper in the refrigerator with a pan underneath to catch any drippings.


  • Milk or yogurt  should be checked for best-by dates; puchase those with later dates.  Never buy products with bulging packages, which may indicate signs of spoilage.  Most dairy foods will last at least a week after opening the container.  Vitamins can be destroyed by light and heat, so be sure to put the products back in the refrigerator as soon as possible. If yogurt isn’t used by the use by date, freeze it to use in smoothies or cooking.
  • Eggs should not be cracked when purchased.  USDA grades, such as AA, refer to best quality with high, round yolks.  Grade A eggs will have whites that are less firm than Grade AA eggs.  Keep eggs in their original container to avoid picking up odors on a low or middle shelf towards the back of the refrigerator.

Frozen Foods:

  • Frozen fruits or vegetables should not be in one large frozen chunk; they may not have been handled properly.  When shopping for frozen foods, store them in an insulated bag to maintin their temperature until you get them home to the freezer.
  • Ice cream should be selected from the back of the freezer.  Be sure to select a cold container!

Don’t throw out food that is past its prime, but still safe to eat.  That stale bread (without mold) will be great as french toast for tomorrow’s breakfast, and overripe bananas taste great in smoothies!  However, don’t overlook signs of spoilage including slimy meat or colorful spots on cottage cheese.  Remember nothing is worth you or your families health and well-being.  The best rule of eating well may be when in doubt, throw it out!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County. 

Source:  ConsumerReports ShopSmart, September, 2011.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties.

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  Crock Pot Cooking

Wouldn’t it be great to walk into your home after a long day at work or school and smell dinner cooking?  Since most of us don’t have a fairy godmother who prepares meals for us, the next best thing might be your crock pot!

A crock pot has many benefits. It is convenient and saves time and money. You do have to be disciplined to plan ahead and spend some time in the morning or the night before preparing the crock pot meal. Raw ingredients must be kept refrigerated until they are put into the crock pot. Meat or poultry should be defrosted and vegetables should be cut into small pieces. You want to be sure that the water or stock in the pot almost covers the meat to ensure good heat transfer.

Don’t overload the pot – most crock pot recipes will tell you what size pot you should use. A general rule is to fill it about half full. You also should not lift the lid during the time your meal is cooking. The heat that has built up will be released every time you open it and it will slow the cooking time.

Some people worry about the safety of food prepared in a crock pot. A combination of direct heat, long cooking times and steam created from the tightly covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the crock pot a safe food preparation alternative.

Another benefit of crock pot cooking is that it can improve the nutritional content of our food and the meal can be delicious. Less expensive cuts of meat become very tender from the long cooking time. By preparing the food yourself you can cut back on the amount of sodium in the recipe by using low sodium or sodium free broths.

Take good care of your crock pot. Some crock pots have removable stoneware liners that are dishwasher safe. If your crock pot requires hand washing, wash it right after cooking with hot water. Don’t ever pour cold water into stoneware that is hot – that may cause the pot to crack.

There are many sources of recipes for your crock pot. Most pots come with a cook book and online sources are plentiful.  As you become more familiar with crock pot cooking, you will be able to adapt family favorite meals to crock pot cooked meals!

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences,OhioStateUniversityExtension.


Eating Right with Your Slow Cooker, Purdue Extension.


Putting Your Crock Pot to Work, Universityof KentuckyCooperative Extension Service.www.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/FN-SSB.003.PDF

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