USU Extension Faculty Members Develop PowerPay Debt Elimination App

Author – Margie Memmott

The PowerPay debt elimination iPhone/iPad app recently hit the app store, and within the first 11 days of its launch, was downloaded in 11 countries. The app, co-developed by a Utah State University Extension team led by Margie Memmott of Juab County and Dean Miner of Utah County, and a New Mexico State University Extension team led by Barbara Chamberlin, is aimed to help debtors become savers.

The PowerPay app is based on the financial tool developed in 1992 by Miner and former Extension employee Judy Harris. It was first developed as a CD, then a website, then users pointed out the opportunity it had to reach the mobile audience.

Consumers can enter their balances, payment amounts and interest rates for each debt, and PowerPay will calculate the best repayment schedule to save time and money. In addition to helping develop a personalized, self-directed debt elimination plan, the app is unique in that it also provides users the option to simultaneously build up an emergency fund as they continue to follow their debt payment plan and avoid additional debt.

Google analytics reports nearly 105,000 hits during 2012 for the online debt management tool.

Memmott said this is indicative of the need consumers have to get out of debt and customize and manage their re-payment plan to fit their individual circumstances.

“The new PowerPay mobile app can help them accomplish that, even on the go,” she said.

To download the free iPhone/iPad PowerPay app, visit the iTunes app store. For a more comprehensive version of PowerPay and additional debt elimination tools, visit www.powerpay.org.

margie-memmott

Margie Memmott has been serving families and communities for over 20 years with USU Extension in Juab County. Margie earned degrees in Family and Consumer Sciences from BYU and USU and loves to teach youth and adults valuable life skills. “What a great reward when others adopt these principles and apply the tools to improve their everyday lives.” Margie and her husband Sam have four sons, three daughters-in-law and two grandsons. In her spare time she enjoys creative textiles/sewing, crocheting, music, technology, four wheeling in the ‘RZR’ and most of all, being with her family.

 




How To Can Apricots

Author – Amanda Christensen

how to can apricots

It’s that time of year again…the popcorn has popped on the apricot tree in my backyard and we are enjoying the sweet, tangy taste right from the tree. There are a number of ways to enjoy the apricots now as well as later.

When the apricots are fresh, we love to enjoy them as a fabulously refreshing smoothie. Blend five to six fresh apricots with 1/2 cup apple juice and 1 cup of ice for a delicious treat.

To keep this delicious treat available even after the harvest is over, I decided to whip out the boiling water bath canner and preserve a few quarts of apricot halves and pints of delicious apricot nectar. Here’s a step-by-step guide following the USDA canning guidelines:

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Hot Pack: Wash and blanch apricots; remove peel.

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Cut in half and pit.

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Make a light syrup by mixing 2 1/4 cups sugar with 5 1/4 cups water. Cook apricots in syrup one layer at a time until hot throughout.

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Pack hot apricots, cavity side down, into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup over apricots, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.

Remove air bubbles, adjust two-piece caps. If you live at sea level process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, in a boiling-water canner.  Note the additional time needed in the chart below based on the altitude in your area:

Altitude in Feet Increase Processing Time
1,001-3,000 5 Minutes
3,001-6,000 10 Minutes
6,001-8,000 15 Minutes
8,001-10,000 20 Minutes

Summer Apricots and the best ways to enjoy them.
amanda-christensenAmanda is an Extension Assistant Professor for Utah State University. She has a master’s degree in consumer sciences from Utah State and is proud to call herself an Aggie! Amanda loves teaching and enabling individuals and families to make smart money decisions.

Follow Amanda:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro

 




Savor the Flavors of Fresh Herbs and Spices

Author – Carolyn Washburn

Savor the Flavor. Ideas for cooking with herbs and spices.

Among the most tantalizing smells and flavors that come from your garden or kitchen emerge from fresh herbs and spices. These fragrant flavors add much to foods while helping cut back on fats, sugars and salts in recipes. Why not add some of the most used herbs and spices in your kitchen to your garden this year? You could plant fresh basil, oregano, mint and rosemary. These plants will add beauty to your garden and flavor to your foods.

An easy way to get started with herbs is container gardening. Maggie Wolf and Teresa Cerny wrote an article on herb container gardens. They list six ways to help your herbs be successful.

Choose herbs that grow in a compact habit. Herbs that are too tall can be out of scale with their container. While herbs that grow in a trailing matter can be a beautiful addition to your outside landscape, you’ll want to consider where to place your containers, how to care for them and harvesting the herbs too.

The handy Herb Container Gardens article has answers plus a useful chart listing many types of herbs, their maintenance and how to harvest.

Speaking of harvesting herbs, did you know it’s the oils from the leaves that give them their great aroma and flavor? You want these oils to be released during cooking, not during harvesting and storage. Exposure to light, overheating, bruising or cutting will release these oils before they are needed. Dennis Hinkamp references easy ways to harvest, dry, cook with and store your herbs in the article, Getting the Most out of your Herbs. The article says, “Of course the optimal way to use herbs is to pick them from the garden immediately before cooking. Since most recipes are written using proportions of dry herbs, when you substitute fresh herbs, you’ll need to add about three times as much as the original dry measure.”

Are you adding herbs to your garden this year? What are you some of your favorites to harvest and use?

Find additional articles on herbs and spices here.

carolyn-washburnCarolyn Washburn is a family consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.




Tips for Raising Money Savvy Kids

Author – Marilyn Albertson

Tips for Raising Money Savvy Kids.

There are a variety of activities you can engage your children in to practice money management skills and have fun in the process. Summer is here. Now is the time to take advantage of everyday activities and use them as teachable money moments with your children. Why start early? One study indicates that children develop their money habits by age seven. (1) There are a variety of activities you can engage your children in to practice money management skills and have fun in the process.

Activities

Take a trip to the local library and explore children’s literature that teaches about money. Read books together and then discuss them. Some examples of fun books:
• The Purse, by Kathy Caple: teaches learning how to save;
• The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money, by Stan and Jan Berenstain: teaches earning, saving, spending and banking;
• Just Shopping with Mom, by Mercer Mayer: teaches about spending, differentiating between needs and wants;
• The King’s Chessboard, by David Birch: teaches compound interest and saving.

Have a fun discussion after. Some questions you might ask:
a. Describe a time you spent money and wished you hadn’t. How did it make you feel?
b. Describe a time you wanted something immediately. What did you do?
c. What would you do if you wanted to buy something and didn’t have the money for it?
d. If your family had to cut back on spending, what are three ways you could save?
e. How do you make decisions about spending and saving money?
f. Share how you earn money. What are some additional ways you could earn money?
g. How do you think money decisions are made in your family?
h. What are two inexpensive activities your family could do for fun?
i. What does the saying “money can’t buy happiness” mean to you?
j. What would you like to learn about money management?
k. Describe a good way to earn and save money.
l. Resources include things like skills, time and money. What are some skills you have?

Find a fun financial game to play together. Some commercial games with a financial theme such as Monopoly, The Game of Life, Payday and The Allowance Game teach basic money management skills, managing cash and financial transactions. It is a great way to interact together and still learn how “real life” may be and to practice:
• basic financial math skills
• bill paying
• compound interest and loan payments
• impact of taxes and overspending

There are also free games created by Visa which children and older youth can play online. Games such as Peter Pig’s Money Counter, Money Metropolis and Financial Soccer can be accessed online at: www.practicalmoneyskills.com. These games offer opportunities for children to learn about the relationships between earning, saving and spending as well as opportunities to identify the various denominations of coins and bills.

Apply Consumer Skills by Comparison Shopping
• Give children the opportunity to pick out items they want at the store and pay for them with their own money.
• Have children make a grocery list and use grocery ads to compare prices at different stores for the same items.
• Help children make a grocery budget and purchase items within that budget with cash.
• When shopping for summer or school clothing, instruct children how to compare clothing items by cost, ease of care and quality.
• Let children experience that they cannot buy everything. Purchases must be based on what money they have available…not what Mom has available.

Present Money-Making Opportunities to Your Children. You could give children the option to do extra chores for pay. Jobs that might be available could include babysitting, mowing lawns, washing cars, doing a paper route, household cleaning, washing windows, etc.
• Help children set goals for how they will use their income.
• Help them create a budget for their money, identifying between needs and wants.
• Help them create an income and expense sheet to keep track of their money.
• Use piggy banks for saving.
• Open a savings account to deposit the money once they have enough saved.
• Let them make some decisions with their own money, even if you might not agree with their choice.

By putting these principles into practice, children will have the opportunity to learn about wise money use. As they make decisions (good or bad) now, children will learn how to be smarter with their use of money in the future. Since parents are the number one influence on their children’s financial behaviors, it’s up to you to raise a generation of mindful consumers, investors, savers and givers.(2)

Resources:

(1) “Many money habits are set by age 7,” Liz Weston, MSN Money, Parenting Guide

(2) Shin, L. (2013, October 15). The 5 Most Important Money Lessons To Teach Your Kids. Forbes

marilyn-albertsonAuthor bio: Marilyn Albertson, M.S., CFCS, has been a Utah State University Extension associate professor in Salt Lake County for 29 1⁄2 years. She provides family and consumer sciences education with emphasis in money management for children, youth and adults; housing education; family resource management including food storage and emergency preparedness, marriage and family relations for teens and adults.




Add Structure to Summer

Author – Kathleen Riggs

How To Add Structure to Summer!

By the time August rolls around, the excited shouts of “School’s out!” have faded to the drone of “I’m bored,” or the shock that, for most children, school begins again this month. There is still time to create routines that will make the most of the summer and help ease the transition into a successful school year.

While youth may say they want lots of freedom to do as they wish this summer, the truth is that they will become bored quickly without some structure to their day. Younger kids will benefit most from knowing what to expect each day – even if it is only a couple hours of planned activities.

An online fact sheet from Iowa State University Extension titled “Creating Home Environments that Help Kids Succeed at School,” reminds readers that extended time outside the classroom can have a negative impact on children’s ability to be ready to move to the next level/grade this fall. In fact, it can take weeks to get children back to where they need to be.

Not convinced? Consider these benefits for parents and their children as identified by Kimberly Greder, Iowa State University Extension family life specialist:

  • Predictable schedules help kids feel safe and secure.
  • Routines help children know their needs are being met and will be met in the future.
  • Routines help children develop self-control and self-esteem.
  • Summer routines reduce anxiety, stress and acting out behaviors.

The good news is that parents don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to planning out what the routines might look like for their family. By scanning through various blog and articles posted by everyone from psychologists, teacher to other parents, families can pick and choose what will work best for them. Here is a summary of some great suggestions:

1. Set daily expectations. Even if the daily expectations are simple such as showering, making their bed, and picking up their room, kids will benefit from some structure to start their day. These should be the minimum expectations before they are allowed free time. By making these decisions up front, they can be put on the child’s personal calendar or added to the family calendar.

2. The family calendar. Print off a blank calendar created on the computer or locate an extra wall calendar at home that can later be posted in an area accessible to all family members. As a family, go through the calendar and add all the known holidays, trips or reunions you know are coming up throughout the months ahead. Include any other commitments individual family members may have, as well such as classes or sports practices and doctor’s appointments/check-ups.

3.Plan time to be together as a family (and make it fun). This may include adding to the calendar more family trips (day trips or weekends), weekly hikes, or an evening one day a week to be home for games, dinner and movies. If it doesn’t get put on the calendar, it most likely will be a forgotten idea. The important thing to remember with this suggestion is to allow everyone a chance to contribute to the brainstorming process.

4. Include time for summer school stuff. Even if it is only 30 minutes a day, several days per week should include time for reading (along with trip to the library). Add in time to practice math skills and perhaps conduct some simple science experiments. THere are workbooks and activity sheets available on educational websites or perhaps teachers have sent some worksheets home. For example math-drills.com, education.com, and readingrockets.org.

One blog that outlines a fun approach using daily themes for parents to use each day for time together with their children is found at some-whatsimple.com. For example, the suggested theme for Thursday is “Be Thoughtful Thursday,” with the suggestion that time be set aside for writing letters, making cookies and performing service.

kathleen-riggsKathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County.




Spring Into Action – Tidy Up!

Author – Ellen Serfustini

tidy-up

“Spring is beautiful and smells sweet. Spring is when you shake the curtains and pound the rugs, and take off your long underwear, and wash in all the corners.” As noted in this quote by Virginia Cary Hudson, when winter has said it’s last goodbye, it’s time to open the windows, shoo away the doldrums and tackle the annual spring cleaning! Along with Spring comes thoughts of crisp fresh air, newly budding flowers, singing birds and a sense of renewal. Getting organized and doing a bit of spring cleaning, helps to bring that wonderful fresh feeling into your home.

History tells us that spring cleaning was born thanks to old wood burning stoves or oil furnaces. The arrival of spring meant warmer temperatures and home heating was no longer required. However, the need to clean the ash and soot left behind on all household surfaces, including draperies and exposed surfaces was clearly evident. Today, modern heating systems eliminate such mess.

Spring cleaning is more than just attacking areas of your home not normally cleaned. It’s combining thorough cleaning and organization of your entire home. If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit our normal routine can be lax and infrequent. Spring cleaning will ensure you make up for those hurried days of sliding a dust rag carelessly across the book case.

To get started –

1: Make a detailed list of what needs to be done in each room. Be sure jobs that you only do once or twice a year are also listed. Perhaps you might take your large comforters to the laundromat, or your drapes and winter coats to the dry cleaners, store you winter clothes and bring your warm weather clothes out of hiding or check the smoke detectors. If all these odd jobs are on a list, you won’t forget to do them.

2: Gather together all the cleaning supplies needed for the tasks. Nothing is worse than getting ready to do your task and then finding out that you are missing the one component needed to complete your task. A large bucket or caddy is ideal for holding cleansers, rags, sponges, and other essentials. They can be toted easily from one room to the next.

3: Decide if you’ll have help. If so, assign tasks or rooms. Be sure to leave potentially dangerous tasks to the adults. Don’t assign cleaning ceiling fan blades or disposing of chemicals or pesticides to a young child. If you’ll be tackling the cleaning alone, you might want to do it in short periods over several days to avoid burnout.

4: Make your cleaning fun. Be positive. Think of it as a ‘feel good’ exercise—one that will really help you to feel good about yourself and your clean, organized environment. Turn on some lively, fun music and move to the beat. Open the drapes and let the sunshine and fresh air in.

5: Concentrate your efforts. Do one room at a time.
• Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, first remove the messy clutter.
• Make a box for trash and a box for charitable donations. Get rid of items you no longer need or use.
• Take time to organize as you complete each task.
• Don’t take smaller stacks of items and create larger ones. That’s not cleaning, that’s reorganizing existing clutter.
• Empty wastebaskets and clean furniture tops, then proceed to dust, wash or shampoo.
• A good rule is to start at the top. Clean chandeliers, light fixtures and pictures first, then work your way down to tables, chairs, window sills and finally the floor. Rather that shuffling furniture from one room to another in an effort to shampoo the carpet, save time and back-breaking effort by covering each furniture leg with a small plastic bag. Then simply move the furniture aside to clean the area and then return to its original spot.
• As you clean each room, make a list of items to be repaired. If you need to replace a light bulb or caulk the bathroom shower, make a note. It’s not necessary to repair it right away, but you’ll want to be sure you complete the repair in a timely manner.

When all the tasks are finished, stand back and admire a job well done.

Ellen-Serfustini

Ellen Serfustini is a Family and Consumer Sciences agent in Carbon County. She has worked for USU Extension for 17 years. Her specialties include food safety, nutrition, and finance.

 




Extreme Couponing

Author – Amanda Christensen

Great tips for successful Couponing!

It is estimated that consumers save more than $3 billion with coupons on a yearly basis! With TV shows, blog posts and YouTube channels shedding light on people who consider “couponing” a sport, it’s easy to wonder, “Do I have to be an extremist to save that much on my grocery bill?” Some may be scared away at the thought of thick coupon binders, stockpiles that take over your home and carts full of toothpaste; but it is possible to save on your groceries without letting the coupon craze take over your life. This article will take you through simple steps and tips to help you cut your grocery bill.

1. Stay organized.
• Develop a meal plan for your family. You can do this weekly, twice a month or monthly — whatever works best for you.
• Check your grocery store’s weekly ad and try to incorporate foods that are on sale into your meal plan. Most items go on sale every 12 weeks, so keep this in mind when determining how much of a sale item you should stock up on; a three-month supply is usually all you should buy.
• Organize your pantry and keep track of what items you already have. Some shoppers even keep an inventory list for their pantry so they know when they are running low on certain items.
• After you plan your meals and organize your pantry, determine what still needs to be bought from the store and make a list. Once at the store, stick as close to your list as possible.
• The number one trick to saving money is matching up store sales with your coupons!

2. Find your coupons.
• There are extreme couponers who subscribe to upwards of five Sunday newspapers just to get the weekly inserts. You do not have to do this. If you feel like getting the paper on Sundays go for it. But don’t feel like you need to buy 10 papers to save money.
• Coupons can also be found on many websites, including retailer websites. There are a ton of blogs and sites that maintain their own coupon database. Find one that you like and feel comfortable using.
• If your store has a loyalty rewards program, check for downloadable coupons on their website. These electronic coupons will stay on your card and be automatically used when applicable after you swipe your loyalty card.
• After you have your coupons, it is time to organize them. There is no set rule for how to keep track of them. Find a way that works well for you and stick to it. Some use mini file folders, others use huge binders or envelopes.
• Remember: Just because you have a coupon for something does not mean you need to buy it. There is no sense in buying 10 jars of pickles because they are cheap, then trying to find recipes for the next 6 months that use pickles.

3. Ask your store about their coupon policies.
• Some stores will match retailer coupons. Others will even accept expired coupons. There are time periods when some stores will double or even triple the value of your coupons. Check with your store so you know exactly what to expect when using your coupons.

Don’t expect your grocery bill to be cut in half the first time. Couponing is a skill that takes time and practice. The more you coupon, the better you will become at staying organized and saving money. These tips will allow you to cut your grocery bill with just a short amount of preparation time. What tips do you have for beginner couponers?

amanda-christensen

Amanda is an Extension Assistant Professor for Utah State University. She has a master’s degree in consumer sciences from Utah State and is proud to call herself an Aggie! Amanda loves teaching and enabling individuals and families to make smart money decisions.

Follow Amanda:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro




24th of July Activities to do in Utah

24th of July Activities to do in Utah

Wondering what to do for the 24th of July? Whether you are looking for a local parade, or a celebratory rodeo, We’ve gathered up a list of activities for all ages. There are celebrations happening all over the state, so be sure to check them out, plan what you want to do, and have fun this Pioneer Day!

Days of ’47 events

Days of ’47 Komatsu Equipment Rodeo

Deseret News Classic Marathon and Half Marathon

Sunrise Service

Days of ’47 KSL 5 Parade

Days of ’47 Dixie Celebration

City of Logan Pioneer Day Celebration

Pioneer Day Extravaganza

Chili Cook Off

Ogden Pioneer Days

This is the Place Heritage Park Pioneer Days

Utah Pioneer Days

Bountiful Handcart Days

Spring City Pioneer Days




Thoughtful Graduation Gifts

Author – Tricia Mathis

Thoughtful Graduation Gift ideas

The dilemma: What do I give a student who is graduating from High School or college? It may be your own son or daughter, a niece or a nephew, a neighbor, a friend or a grandchild. No matter who the graduate is in your life, the search for the perfect gift can be difficult and sometimes even frustrating. I had a son graduate from high school two years ago and my daughter will graduate this year. We decided that we would give them a lap top computer for their graduations. It is something that they are going to need anyway as they head off to college. We are practical people, but we cannot afford to give everyone we know a laptop.

Here is a list of some fun ideas to give the graduate in your life.

The sentimental gift: give something that will be a keepsake.
– A scrapbook: fill the pages with school pictures, class pictures and school activities or sports.
– A t-shirt quilt: assemble those old T-shirts into a great memory quilt
– A quilt or blanket in the schools colors
– Personalized jewelry/ watch
– “Oh the Places you will Go” by Dr. Suess

Gifts for the College bound and practical:
– Lap top computer
– Printer
– Messenger Bag/Backpack
– Bicycle (to get around campus)
– Alarm clock (iHome)
– Portable Speakers
– Noise cancelling headphones
– Monogrammed Towels
– Interview Attire
– College Apparel

Fun Gifts:
– Camera
– Luggage
– Smart phone
– Candy Bar Poster
– Gift basket

…and last but not least.

Money: give it in a fun and creative way.
– Gift cards
– Book store credit
– In a chocolate box
– In a tissue box
– In case of emergency break glass
– Money tree
Money book

Tricia Mathis is currently the social media specialist for Wasatch County. She graduated from USU with a bachelors degree in Home Economics and Consumer Education. She taught high school and middle school for year after graduation. Since then she has been busy raising her family of six children.




Kids In The Kitchen

Author: Melanie Jewkes


Kids in the Kitchen

Some of my favorite childhood memories include standing on a stool in the kitchen helping and watching my mom cook. I remember distinct smells of vanilla being added to cookie dough or frosting and feeling excited to get my hands on one of the beaters to taste the deliciousness of something homemade.

Did you know that including your kids in the process of preparing and cooking is one of the best ways to get them to eat and try new foods? Including kids in the kitchen can be a great way to introduce your children to healthy foods AND teach them important cooking skills. Our kids need skills in the kitchen because they will have to eat food every day for the rest of their lives! So, let’s get the kids in the kitchen!

Kids in the Kitchen class series in Salt Lake area–bring your kids, get a snack and learn some tips.

July 8, 2014 | Chapman Library | 3:00 pm

July 9, 2014 | Kearns Library | 7:00 pm

July 16, 2014 | West Jordan Library | 7:00 pm

August 4, 2014 | Magna Library | 3:00 pm

August 5, 2014 | Ruth Vine Tyler Library | 4:00 pm

August 12, 2014 | Chapman Library | 3:00 pm

August 13, 2014 | West Jordan Library | 7:00 pm

August 21, 2014 | Kearns Library | 7:00 pm

September 2, 2014 | Ruth Vine Tyler Library | 4:00 pm

melanie jewkes Melanie Jewkes is a part-time Extension Associate Professor in Salt Lake County. She has worked for USU for 6 years. The best part of her job is learning and relearning some of the things that matter most–loving and caring for marriage and family, living within your means, and growing, cooking and eating delicious (and nutritious!) food. She and her husband have two adorable children and live in Taylorsville.