Establishing Smooth Transitions after Divorce

It can be emotional for children and parents alike when children leave the care and responsibility of one parent to be with the other parent. Establishing a routine for these transitions is beneficial for residential parents, nonresidential parents and children. Although there is no correct way to handle these transitions, good communication about how it will happen can make it easier for everyone. Consider these tips. 

  • Select a set pickup and return time. Having a set time when children are picked up and returned creates continuity for them. It is important that they know what to expect and when. If something unforeseen happens and a parent cannot make the visit or pickup when planned, they should let the children and other parent know as soon as possible. 
  • Choose a pickup location. It may be beneficial to pick children up at a neutral location. This could be daycare, school, a grandparent’s house or afterschool activities. This will lower the chances that the children will become caught in the middle of their parent’s conflict. It will also help children avoid saying goodbye and leaving one parent to be with the other. 
  • Ease children’s feelings of guilt and stress. Children often feel guilty when they leave a parent. It can be difficult for them  to go through repeated separations and reunions. Parents should encourage their children to talk about their feelings. Children need to know from both parents that it is okay to love and see the other parent. It is important that children are not used as spies or messengers between parents.
  • Get to know your children’s friends. Allowing children to invite their friends to their house or to join family activities shows them that their parents are interested and care about who they spend time with.
  • Involve nonresidential parents. Children need regular contact with their nonresidential parent. Both parents should stay actively involved in their child’s life. A positive relationship and regular connection with the nonresidential parent help promote a positive adjustment for the child.
  • Get involved in children’s school activities. Nonresidential parents should make an effort to attend parent-teacher conferences, sporting events and other school activities. This keeps parents involved in their children’s lives and lets them know that both parents want to be there for them.
  • Establish regular household routines. Avoid the “Disneyland parent” syndrome of doing strictly fun activities when the children are visiting. Children need structure and routines. Knowing what to expect when they are at each house will make their transition easier.

By: Shannon Cromwell, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Shannon.cromwell@usu.edu

Avoid Overscheduling Burnout with Your Child by Creating Opportunities for Downtime

Intentions are good when parents sign up their children for dance, baseball, gymnastics, music lessons, and a host of other activities. Parents want their children to succeed in life and hope that participation in these activities will help them do that. Enriching a child’s life is a good thing, however, overscheduling can take a toll on you, your child and your family. Deb Lonzer, M.D., board-certified pediatrician and the Chair of the Department of Community Pediatrics for Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, stated, “Kids whose time is overly organized don’t have time to be kids, and their family doesn’t have time to be a family. They typically don’t eat well, sleep well, or make friends properly” (Cleveland Clinic, 2018).

A poll conducted by Mental Health America asked youth ages 11-17 what was stressing them out.  61% of them replied that juggling priorities (i.e., school, sports, jobs, clubs, etc.) was causing them stress (Health Enews, 2017). Another poll showed that 78% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 wished that they had more free time (Health Enews, 2017). One report concluded that, “Parents of school-aged children should assess activity-related stress and the degree to which children perceive they are busy.” (Brown, et al., 2011) With this in mind, how can parents best help their children balance scheduled activities with down time?

Alvin Rosenfield, M.D., author of The Overscheduled Child, suggests that there is nothing wrong with enrichment activities for children if parents make sure they have enough downtime with no activities.   He continues that parents should “weigh the benefits of participation against the cost-time, energy, logistical effort, stress and expense-to-you, your child, and the rest of your family” (Rosenfield, 2001).  Dr. Lonzer counsels’ parents to discuss the activity options with their child and help them choose their top three activities. Once this decision is made don’t vary from it. If, down the road, your child wants to try a different activity, make sure to drop one of the original three. On the other hand, Dr. Rosenfield states that a set number of activities or hours of free time aren’t necessary. “Parents should listen to their instincts,” he said (Rosenfield, 2001).  The bottom line is to choose the method that you and your family can live with.  Finding a balance that works for your child is the key to help them avoid burnout. Below are additional suggestions from Dr. Lonzer that will help you provide children with downtime.  Giving these tips a try can help you find a healthy balance between overscheduling and downtime.

  1. Keep a written calendar. Dr. Lonzer suggests writing in “sleep time, down time, mealtime, and family time. The balance of fun organized activities with plenty of down time will help kids see that all of these things are important.”   
  2. Downtime does not mean screen time. Make sure all devices and electronics are powered down and put away. Downtime should allow children to use their own creativity and initiative in filling their down time.
  3. Schedule family time. Plan on scheduling 20 minutes, five times a week as family time. Then do whatever your family enjoys doing together, i.e., ride bikes, play a board game, read books out loud, etc. Go for a walk, again leaving any technology such as cellphones and earbuds, at home. Talk about what is happening now, ask questions, but leave talk of things they must do for school, or that you must do for work for other times. Help your child learn that to live in the moment is a good thing.
  4. Model a good work-life balance. Budget your time, pace yourself. Don’t procrastinate. Let your kids see what a healthy work-life balance looks like.


By Christina Pay, Extension Assistant Professor

Helping Children Manage Their Emotions

Have you ever been in a situation where your child has a meltdown that includes crying, screaming, or lashing out at objects or other people? Often times these behaviors occur when a child is tired, hungry, or frustrated, and isn’t able to communicate how they are feeling. It can be really embarrassing, especially when it happens in public. 

The good news is that there are things we can do as parents to help them learn how to manage their emotions. The key thing to remember is that once children get to the point that they are experiencing intense emotions, it is very difficult to reason with them. This is why it is best to teach them skills and strategies when they are already calm. This way, when they start to get upset, you can then remind them to use one of the approaches they already know. 

Try the strategies below to help your child learn to stay calm.

  • Parents need to stay calm. In order for you to help your child manage their emotions, you need to be in control of yourself first. Make sure that you communicate with your words, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures that you are calm and ready to help them be calm. 
  • Identify common triggers. Try to identify what triggers emotional outbursts in your child so you can prevent them in the first place. Look for things like time of day, people they are around, specific activities they are doing. Make a list of these things and keep track of strategies that seem to work and under what circumstances.
  • Don’t reinforce acting out behaviors. Often times, children will continue to act out or raise the level of their outburst because they have learned that their parents will eventually give in or give up. If children end up getting what they want from acting out, they are being reinforced for this behavior and are likely to continue doing it. Teaching children that outbursts aren’t an effective way to get what they want will take patience and consistency on your part.
  • Show empathy. No matter the age of your child, a little empathy can go a long way. Letting your child know that you know they are going through a hard time is a good way to start the interaction with them because it lets them know you are on their team. Even if what they are upset about seems ridiculous to you, in their mind it can seem like the end of the world. Try saying, “I get why you are upset right now,” or “I know you are mad about what just happened.”
  • Be specific about the behaviors that are not acceptable. Instead of saying, “stop acting like a baby,” try being specific by saying something like, “you are screaming and throwing your toys and that is not okay.”
  • Give them some strategies to try and practice with them. Some simple strategies that help children calm down include counting to five, taking some deep breaths, holding an object such as a toy that they like, and having a calm-down place. Try saying something like, “When you’re mad, instead of screaming and crying, take some deep breaths and count to five.” It also helps for you to actually show them what you want to see them do by doing it with them. For example, “On the count of three, let’s take a deep breath to calm down. Ready, one, two, three…” Remember that negative behavior patterns can take some time to unlearn and that practicing the strategies when they are already calm is best.
  • Allow them time to calm down. Know when they need time to calm down and remind them to use one of their strategies. For example, say “I’m going to give you five minutes to go to your room and calm down. I’ll check on you in a few minutes to see how you’re doing.” Let them know that the sooner they go to their calm-down place, the sooner you will be able to listen to them.
  • Teach them to use their words. Once they calm down, try to get them to tell you what made them so upset. The goal is for them to be able to tell you what is bothering them before they have a meltdown. Give them the guidance to use their words to tell you that they are mad or feeling frustrated instead of throwing an object, hurting someone else, or yelling. You can explain that once they tell you that they are upset, you will be able to help them figure out how to deal with it.

You may not be able to prevent all of their meltdowns, but hopefully by using the strategies above, you can help your child learn to manage their emotions and keep their emotional outbursts to a minimum.

For more information, check out these additional resources:



Barnes, B. A. & York, S. M. (2015). Common sense parenting of toddlers and preschoolers (2nd ed.). Boys Town Press.

By Lisa Schainker, Extension Assistant Professor

Building Family Relationships Through Volunteering

Family volunteer projects are a powerful way to build family relationships by accomplishing a common goal together.  Family volunteering provides members a way to grow relationships as they learn more about each other, see each other giving service, and have fun together while serving others.  Volunteer projects make memories and build character.  Some characteristics built through volunteering include responsibility, self-worth, compassion, tolerance, and sacrifice.  

Benefits of volunteering include improved mental and physical health, increased life satisfaction, increased social well-being, and decreased depression (Lawton et al., 2020; Yeung et al., 2018).  Studies reveal family volunteering leads to increased marital and family satisfaction, improved parenting and conflict resolution, shared experiences and values, and that volunteer projects foster bonding between parents and children (Lewton et al., 2012).  

Volunteer opportunities come in many forms.  It’s important that families find a good fit for their volunteering.   Keep the following in mind when searching for a family volunteer project:

  • Determine what is realistic in terms of resources of time and money.
  • Consider the duration of the project and flexibility in scheduling.
  • Keep in mind the health and talents of family members.
  • Decide together on the project.  Find a project that is meaningful to family members.  
  • Remember there are many virtual volunteering projects.

Family volunteer projects often include work, but make sure they also include a fun way to spend time together.  As families explore, carry out, and reflect on their volunteer projects they, in turn, build family relationships.  

For further resources and help in finding family volunteer projects visit: 


Lawton, R. N., Gramatki, I., Watt, W., & Fujiwara, D. (2021). Does volunteering make us happier, or are happier people more likely to volunteer? Addressing the problem of reverse causality when estimating the wellbeing impacts of volunteering. Journal of Happiness Studies, 22(2), 599–624. https://doi-org.dist.lib.usu.edu/10.1007/s10902-020-00242-8 

Lewton, A. R., & Nievar, M. A. (2012). Strengthening families through volunteerism: Integrating family volunteerism and family life education. Marriage & Family Review, 48(7), 689–710. https://doi-org.dist.lib.usu.edu/10.1080/01494929.2012.700909  
Yeung, J. W. K., Zhuoni Zhang, Tae Yeun Kim, Zhang, Z., & Kim, T. Y. (2017). Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms. BMC Public Health, 17, 1–8. https://doi-org.dist.lib.usu.edu/10.1186/s12889-017-4561-8

By Kari Ure, Extension Assistant Professor

Should You Raise Chickens? Eight Things to Consider


In difficult economic times, many people consider purchasing chickens as part of their domestic safety net. Raising chickens, however, is distinctly different than stocking up on food storage or bottled water. Chickens are living, breathing beings that need special care and TLC. As a veterinarian, I often see birds that are not properly taken care of, even in stable economic conditions. However, most of this is simply due to lack of knowledge and not from willful neglect.

If you are contemplating purchasing and raising chicks, never buy them and then try to decide what to do with them. Here are eight important points to consider BEFORE making your purchase:

1. Check with city/county ordinances and HOAs regarding raising poultry to make sure it’s feasible where you live.

2. Research, purchase and set up all proper equipment beforehand. Chickens cannot regulate body temperature for the first 3 to 4 weeks of life, and a proper heat source is imperative. Know about all equipment and feed requirements before you make your purchase.

3. Purchase your chicks from National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP)-certified sources only. This certification requires rigorous testing of breeder flocks to assure the purchaser that the chicks are free of devastating egg-transmitted diseases. Most commercial wholesalers who sell to reputable feed store chains are NPIP-certified.

4. Be sure you have adequate outdoor space and shelter for the young chickens once they have fully feathered and are moved out of the brooder.

5. Provide plenty of clean, fresh water at all times, and be sure to feed your chickens a nutritious diet based on appropriate commercial feed.

6. Provide them with protection from rats, mice, raccoons, skunks and other varmints.

7. Be a good neighbor. Make sure that your chickens are confined to your yard and are not getting into neighbors’ yards or gardens. 

8. Practice social distancing with your flock of chickens. (That’s a modern term for biosecurity.) Protect your chickens from disease by keeping wild birds out of the coop. Wash hands and disinfect before and after gathering eggs, do not keep chickens in the house, and do not let neighbors and others come to see your chickens.

By: David Frame, Utah State University Extension poultry specialist, DVM, David.frame@usu.edu,  435-851-2233

Finding Competent and Affordable Childcare

Professors Brower and Davis (2021) recently reviewed the need for parent self-care on USU Extension’s Relationship website. They reminded readers that when we experience mental and emotional fatigue, it is hard to provide quality care to our children that show love and support. Obtaining a babysitter to care for your children while you take time to recharge may be necessary. So, how does a caregiver make sure they hire someone who is a good fit for their needs and family?
Let’s discuss how to find someone you believe to be competent in the care of your child and the affordability of care. 

Finding Competent Providers

  • Ask family and friends for referrals. Ask them who they trust and why. 
  • Take the time to call and talk to referrals from friends and family. What may work for them might not for you. 
  • Interview care providers. Think about how you would want someone to handle child behaviors or safety concerns. Ask questions based on your desires and concerns.
  • If CPR and first aid certification are important to you, verify that the individual has current training and certification. They should have a card confirming what training they received and when it will expire. 
  • Please note that childcare does not include housekeeping. Informing your chosen caregiver that you expect toys to be put away is advised. However, if you expect more to be done, then an additional fee should be arranged for in advance for those services.  
  • Take time before you leave home to talk with your children and the sitter about home rules to be followed. That way, everyone is on the same page, and the sitter will have less trouble getting children to follow home rules.   

Finding Affordable Care

  • Ask friends and family what they pay per hour for babysitting. Consider the number of children you have when calculating what you are willing to pay them.
  • Have an open conversation about the cost per hour of care with your babysitter prior to hire. Think about what you can afford; if their price is too high, then be honest with them about what you are willing to pay per hour. 
  • Ask friends and family members with children if you can do a babysitting swap. 
  • Talk with those you know and trust about the possibility of watching your child if ever you find you need time for self-care. You can always make a treat and deliver it later as a thank you. 
  • If you have a child with disabilities, some Utah counties have programs designed to give parents a few hours of reprieve. See https://kotm.org/programs/respite-care
  • Here is another resource for those experiencing crisis or feeling overwhelmed. This center will provide respite if you need a break. See http://www.utahvalleyfamilysupport.org/how-we-can-help/crisis-services/. Be sure to call ahead if using this resource. 


Brower, N., & Davis, E. (n.d.). Becoming a better parent through self-care. Utah State University Extension: Relationships. Retrieved February 1, 2022, from https://extension.usu.edu/relationships/faq/becoming-a-better-parent-through-self-care

By Eva Timothy, Extension Professional Practice Assistant Professor

Cooling Hot Heads

Have you ever been so upset with your partner that you can’t think straight? It is normal to have moments of frustration and anger in relationships. How we manage strong emotions in our relationships is what matters. Being filled with uncontrolled, unmanaged anger during an argument is not constructive for you or your partner and can have long-term damaging effects to the relationship. So, what can you do to cool down and reach a point where you can think more clearly and problem solve with your partner? 

When you or your partner get to a point where you are feeling overwhelmed or “flooded,” it is important to take a break from the situation for at least 20 minutes, about the amount of time that it takes for the parasympathetic anti-stress hormones to put the brakes on runaway emotions (Navarra, 2021). Taking a break can help you to prevent further escalation and possibly saying or doing things that you will regret. Consider creating a signal that you need a break such as a code word. Use this time away from each other to calm yourself and get your mind off the situation by doing something such as: 

  • Focused breathing: Take ten slow, deep breaths, pausing for one or two seconds after inhaling.
  • Positive imagery: Close your eyes and think of a positive, relaxing experience, time or place.
  • Get active: Take a short walk to help you decompress, burn off extra tension and reduce stress or, if it works better for you, try non-strenuous, slow yoga-like exercises to relax your muscles to feel calmer. 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: slowly tense then relax each muscle group. 
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax” while breathing deeply.

By Naomi Brower, Extension Professor, & Sophia Pettit, Student Intern

Once you are both calm enough to have a conversation, make sure you approach each other to try talking again. At some point, it may also be helpful to talk about what may have triggered such intense emotions (such as past experiences/history). While intense feelings and conflict are uncomfortable, with effort, difficult conversations can also lead to increased closeness. For more information see this article:
The positive side of anger in relationships: A door to increasing intimacy.


American Psychological Association. (2011). Strategies for Controlling Your Anger: Keeping Anger in Check. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/strategies-controlling

Mayo Clinic. (2022). Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper. 


Navarra, R. (2022). The Dark Side of Anger: What Every Couple Should Know. The Gottman 

Institute. https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-dark-side-of-anger-what-every-couple-should-know/Navarra, R. (n.d.). The positive side of anger in relationships: A door to increasing intimacy. Dr. Robert Navarra. https://drrobertnavarra.com/the-positive-side-of-anger-in-relationships-a-door-to-increasing-intimacy/

March Gardening Checklist

We are officially heading into gardening season! Consider these tips to help you prepare. Included are links from the Utah State University Extension Gardeners Almanac.

  • Plant seeds for cool season vegetables (peas, lettuce, radishes) as soon as garden soil is workable.
  • Consider planting peas in the garden every 2-3 weeks (until early May) to extend the harvest.
  • If it didn’t happen in the fall, add organic matter to the vegetable garden to help build and amend the soil.
  • Avoid compacted soil by not tilling when garden soil is wet or saturated.
  • Consider backyard composting or vermiculture (composting with worms).
  • If storing bulbs, check their condition to ensure that they are firm, and remove any that are soft or rotten.
  • If locally available, plant bare root trees and shrubs, and keep the exposed roots moist until planted.
  • Remove protective trunk wrap and burlap from trees in the spring after snow has melted.
  • Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, fritillaria and crocus.
  • Plant cold-hardy pansies and primrose for spots of color.
  • Prune berries and fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums and apricots.
  • Attend a USU Extension-sponsored pruning demonstration near you. Check with your local county Extension office for information.
  • Apply horticulture oils at bud break (delayed dormant) in fruit trees to control overwintering insect pests.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides in late March to mid-April to control annual weeds such as crabgrass and spurge in your lawn.
  • Sharpen mower blades to prepare for the season. Set mower height at 2 1/2 to 3 inches, and mow at this height for the summer.
  • Consider including a native fruiting species in the landscape, such as chokecherryelderberryserviceberry or currant.

Pests and Problems:

  • Download the Utah Home Orchard Pest Management Guide for tips and information.
  • Be aware of damping-off, a fungal disease that affects new seedlings.
  • Take control measures at bud break for anthracnose and aspen leaf spot. Both may become prevalent during cool, wet springs.
  • Control rust mites in apple and pear trees after leaves have emerged and expanded to 1/2 inch.
  • Apply dormant oil for pears when leaf buds swell. This smothers eggs of the pear psylla that are laid on buds by overwintering adults.
  • Consider taking soil samples to determine fertilizer needs.
  • Click here to subscribe to the Utah Pests IPM Advisories for timely tips on controlling pests in your yard and garden.
  • Consider taking an online gardening course. Courses cover everything from container vegetable gardening and creating the perfect soil, to planting trees and controlling pests. Courses are geared to both beginning and professional gardeners.
  • Many of our Master Gardener courses will be held virtually or as a combination of virtual and in-person classes this year. For information about classes around the state, visit extension.usu.edu/mastergardener/find-a-program.
  • Further gardening information can be found at garden.usu.edu. Here you will find fruit, vegetable and herb growing guides, information on soil, lawn, yard, tree, shrub and flower care. In addition are monthly tips, the basics of gardening, information on events, classes, and more.

The Benefits of Adult Friendships

An old poem tells us to, “Make new friends but keep the old, the new are silver the old are gold” (Parry, n.d.).   Researchers are finding that friendships are worth even more than silver or gold, in fact, there are many benefits associated with adult friendships. In a study published by the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, researchers note, “Incorporating social support and connections is critical for overall health and for healthy habits to be sustainable” (Martino, et al, 2017).  These same researchers found evidence that social support (e.g., friendships), help people maintain a variety of health factors such as blood sugar control, heart health, a healthy body mass index, cancer survival improvement, and overall mental health improvement. Another study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, concluded that “social connection is the strongest protective factor for depression”(Choi, et al, 2020). The benefits of friendship also increase your sense of belonging and purpose, contribute to improved self-worth and confidence, help you cope with traumatic events in your life, and increase happiness while reducing stress.  

Adults often find it more difficult to develop new friendships or maintain existing friendships. Responsibilities such as work or taking care of a family may take priority. Additionally, friendships change as people change interests or move away. However, you are never too old, and it is never too late to reach out to old friends or make new friends. Friendship takes effort but given the benefits of friendship, the extra work can be worth it.  Following the suggestions below from the Mayo Clinic may help as you seek to nurture new and existing friendships:

1. Be kind. This is the core of successful relationships. You get back what you put in so make certain what you give is positive and kind. Try expressing gratitude for the small things, say “thank you” when you are thankful or appreciative of your friend or something kind they did.

2. Be a good listener. Let your friend know you are interested in their life.  Show interest though eye contact and body language. Try to listen and ask clarifying questions, but don’t seek to respond with advice unless it is asked for directly.

3. Open up.  Sharing about your life can deepen connection and build intimacy with your friend. It shows them that they hold a special place in your life. Try expressing your feelings with “I” statements to be vulnerable and build connection. 

4. Show that you can be trusted. Be dependable, reliable, and responsible. When your friends share confidences with you, keep it confidential. Be sure to follow through on commitments and be on time when you plan get togethers.

5. Make yourself available.  Forging friendships takes time, including time spent together. Try to see new friends regularly and check in with them in-between times. Try texting or calling your friends when you think about them just to talk and be available to them.


Choi, K. W., Stein, M. B., Nishimi, K. M., Ge, T., Coleman, J. R. I., Chen, C.-Y., Ratanatharathorn, A., Zheutlin, A. B., Dunn, E. C., Breen, G., Koenen, K. C., & Smoller, J. W. (2020). An exposer-wide and mendelian randomization approach to identifying modifiable factors for the 
prevention of depression. American Journal of Psychiatry.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19111158

 Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 16, 2022, 
     from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860 

 Martino, J., Pegg, J., & Frates, E. (2015). The connection prescription: Using the power of social interactions and the deep desire for connectedness to empower health and wellness. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827615608788

Parry, J. (n.d.). New friends and old friends. Poetry Nook. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/new-friends-and-old-friends 

The power of social connectedness. (2020, August 17). Psychology for all. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from http://www.psychologyforall.org/blog/the-power-of-social-connectedness

By Christina Pay, Extension Assistant Professor

Six Tips to Help Get You Saving

This week is both Utah Saves Week and America Saves Week. Since 2007, both have been held the last week of February to help people focus on saving money. For some, it can be daunting to get started, but the americasaves.org website can help you set goals and sign up for email and text reminders to keep you on track. Consider these tips:

1) Save automatically – This is the secret sauce to financial success. Automatically having your money direct deposited from your paycheck into a savings account increases your chances of saving by 100%. And if the money is out of sight and out of mind, you are less likely to withdraw it for random purchases. The book, The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, is helpful for anyone who wants to become a regular saver. If you don’t have automatic savings set up, it is a great first step.

2) Save for the unexpected opportunity – We talk a lot about saving for an emergency, but what about saving for an unexpected opportunity as well?  When you have money set aside for the unexpected, whether it be an emergency or an opportunity, you’ll have a stash of cash ready to go. Take the automatic savings you just set up and put some away for the unexpected.

3) Save to retire – We spend most of our lives working in order to pay for our house, food, cars, entertainment, etc., but putting yourself first and saving money for your future is also a wise move. One way to do this is to set up your retirement contribution so it is a certain percentage of your income. That way, as your income increases, so does the amount you contribute to retirement, all without you even noticing. 

4) Save by reducing debt – If automatic savings is the secret sauce for financial success, reducing your debt is definitely the cherry on top. Paying down debt frees up money that was going toward interest. Check out www.powerpay.org for a free tool that helps you create a self-directed debt elimination plan using “power” or “snowball” payments. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can pay down debt and free up money for savings.

5) Save as a family – Make saving a family affair. Talking to your kids about money and empowering them to make good financial decisions is not something you will ever regret. No parent has ever said, “I taught my child to save too much money!” Setting a goal as a family to save for something fun you all want to do together can create a lasting impact on your children. Even if you don’t have children and it is just you and a significant other, setting goals together can help you achieve financial success, have fun together, and give you built-in accountability to reach your goals. 

6) Save for college – Make education savings simple by investing in a college savings plan like my529, Utah’s official 529 educational savings plan. Funds can help pay for qualified education expenses like tuition, books, computers, and other supplies for traditional and technical colleges. Savings can also be used for K-12 tuition expenses, apprenticeships, and student loan repayments up to certain amounts. Your employer may be able to help you set up an automatic, after-tax contribution directly from your paycheck into your account. ​Click here to learn how to get a $10 match from my529 during 2022 Utah Saves Week!

By: Amanda H. Christensen, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Amanda.Christensen@usu.edu