Protect Yourself from Financial Fraud

There has been extensive reporting in recent news about data breaches, cyber security, Social Security numbers stolen, identity theft, fraud, scams, credit monitoring services, credit reports, credit scores, etc. It can be tricky to navigate, so here’s the Readers Digest version: 

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle the lawsuit from their September 2017 data breach that exposed personal info of 147 million people.
  • The FTC reminds us to be weary of scammers calling, emailing and setting up fake websites claiming to be related to the Equifax data breach in an attempt to get your personal info and/or collect a payment.
  • Capitol One announced their data breach has exposed the personal info of 106 million of its credit card customers and applicants in the U.S. and Canada.  
  • Scammers are calling and pretending to be the Social Security Administration saying your Social Security number has been suspended. They then ask you to confirm your number and/or send money in order to “reactivate” it.

Whether or not you were affected by a data breach or scam, be proactive about monitoring your personal credit information. Now is a great time to check your credit report, free of charge, using Here’s why it’s so important and tips for doing it.

You and your spouse (if applicable) are allowed one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. So, to keep tabs on our credit all year long, I pull one report every two months. I set reminders in my cell phone that alert me to remember. Example:

  • January = My Experian report
  • March = Husband’s Experian report
  • May = My Transunion report
  • July = Husband’s Transunion report
  • September = My Equifax report
  • November = Husband’s Equifax report

This helps us keep tabs on our personal and shared accounts, monitor for fraud and correct any errors. 

Keep in mind –the data breach is a frenzy for scammers who will call, text, email and create fake websites pretending to be credit monitoring companies that can help “protect you” for a fee. Just remember, a legit site will not ask for a credit card number or your full Social Security number. Equifax will ask for the last six digits of your social security number and your last name to tell you whether or not your information was compromised. Sign up for free credit monitoring available to victims of these data breaches. Also know that the government will nevercall you to ask you to confirm your Social Security number. If you are contacted, hang up and report it to the FTC at:


By: Amanda Christensen, Utah State University Extension associate professor, (801) 829-3472,

Planning a Road Trip? Try These Healthy Eating Tips

Many people have road trips on their agenda this summer. It’s not always easy to eat healthy foods while on the road, or on any vacation for that matter, but with a little planning and effort, it can be done. Consider these tips.

  1. Pack a small cooler with easy-to-eat, healthy snacks such as:

* Apples (Be aware of agriculture check points that won’t allow fruit to pass through, including the border into California and other locations. Buy fruit after passing through.)

* String cheese and whole-grain crackers

*  Pre-packaged yogurt tubes

*  Trail mix and dried fruit

*  Hummus and pre-cut veggies, such as carrots, radishes, snap peas and bell peppers

*  Celery and small individual-sized containers of peanut butter (check the peanut butter aisle for the small 1-2 tablespoon packages); pretzels also can be dipped in peanut butter for an easy snack

*  Whole-grain bread with peanut butter and jam, or cheese and lunchmeat

*  Wet wipes and garbage bags for easy clean up

2. Take refillable water bottles to save cooler space and to avoid spending money on sugary beverages. Refill the bottles each time you stop for gas and restroom breaks. 

3. When eating out, seek healthier options such as fruit cups or slices, milk, wraps, salads, rice and veggie bowls and whole-grain options of breads, tortillas and rice. 

4. Use a navigation app on your smartphone to look for restaurants near you beyond the ones connected to the gas station when stopping to refuel. Consider non-burger fast food restaurants for variety and possibly healthier options, such as:

* Sandwich restaurants where you could split a larger sandwich with a family member and load up on the veggies options.

*  Chinese restaurants, which often have more vegetable options than other fast food restaurants.

*  Mexican restaurants where you can look for beans, rice and veggies, but remember to eat less of the high-fat fried foods.

* Pita and wrap restaurants, which also offer fresh veggie options, but beware of high-calorie sauces.

5. Make farmers markets a destination around meal times. This is a great way to literally taste some of the local foods and culture. Most markets have more than just produce, so enjoy many other vendors selling fresh breads, homemade tamales, side salads and more. Plus, you’ll get to move and stretch your legs after all that driving. 

6. Visit grocery stores or local bakeries at your destination to buy meals and/or replenish your healthy snack cooler. Consider whole-grain muffins, fruit and small milk containers for breakfast or instant oatmeal packets you can make with hot water from gas stations or hotel room coffee makers. 

7. Plan moving time. Search for places along the way for walking, hiking, biking or swimming adventures to break up driving time and get your body moving. It might take a little extra time, but together with choosing varieties of fruits and veggies, moving your body will help you feel more energized, help you sleep better and help keep you “regular.”

8. Make gas and restroom breaks a physical activity break—walk, run, dance or do yoga or stretches. You could even have races with the family. Consider ordering your meals take-out and head to a picnic spot at a local park to enjoy fresh air and more opportunities to move your body. 

9. Save treats for events and special destinations of your trip. This will save your car from sugary, sticky spills and melts, and also help reduce calories consumed.

10. Plan non-food activities in the car to pass time and to avoid the snacking-from-boredom syndrome. Listen to audio books the whole car can enjoy, make videos of the family rocking out to a favorite song, sketch Picasso-like portraits of each other without looking at the paper, play “I Spy,” bingo or read books and articles about the history of places you’re going to visit. 

 By: Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences faculty,

Be a Responsible Recreator in Utah’s Outdoors

A report released by the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation touted that outdoor recreation in Utah contributes more than $12.3 billion to the economy and provides jobs from more than 100,000 people. Utah outdoor recreation also generates over $737 million in state and local tax revenues and provides over $3.9 billion in wages and salaries.

Major contributors to this impact are activities often referred to as “quiet recreation.” These include camping, hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and biking. Quiet recreation is generally non-motorized activity that excludes off-highway vehicle use, power boating, snowmobiling or driving for sightseeing. A report released by the Bureau of Land Management suggests that over 75 percent of outdoor recreation on public lands in Utah is quiet recreation.

As more people recreate in the outdoors, the chance of encountering wildlife also increases. By camping, hiking and biking irresponsibly, you may endanger yourself, your family and future visitors. If a wild animal receives a food reward from a human source, it can become food-conditioned.

This behavior can lead to the removal or death of the animal and increased risk of human injury. A recent issue of the journal, “Human-Wildlife Interactions,” published by the Utah State University Berryman Institute, featured case studies and research from around the world that reported on increased conflicts between humans and bears as a result of people acting irresponsibly.

Consider these tips to help you enjoy Utah’s great outdoors and wildlife.

1. Store food carefully.

* Do not leave food out. If an animal can see or smell food inside your vehicle, it may try to break in.

* Secure food and trash in odor-free, bear-proof containers.

* Keep food and strong-smelling toiletries 100 yards away from your sleeping area.

* Hang trash or food 10 feet above the ground and 10 feet from the trunk of the tree or pole.

* Do not leave pet food or dishes outside.

* Do not put trash in the fire pit, and do not burn it.

* Do not set food out to deliberately attract animals to your camp or picnic site.

2. Hike and bike with safety in mind.

* Stay alert at dawn and dusk when animals are most active.

* Always hike, jog or bike with a companion, and make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.

* Keep children safe when hiking. Keep them within the group or in sight ahead of your group.

* Avoid wearing ear buds or headphone, which can prevent you from hearing approaching wildlife.

* Stay away from animal carcasses. There could be an unseen predator guarding its prey.

* Stay on designated trails, and do not toss food or trash.

* When hiking with pets, keep them supervised and under control. Dogs off leash can chase, injure or kill wildlife. Do not allow dogs to “play” with, harass or chase wildlife, as it is against Utah law.

3. Avoid wildlife on the trail.

* Stay at least 50 feet (approximately three car lengths) away from wildlife. Always give the animal a clear escape route. A crowded animal could become  stressed and unpredictable.

* Snakes hide well on open trails and dense grasses. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep pets leashed.

* Don’t let children or pets play with snakes. Look carefully where you set your hands and feet and where you sit. Always stay on paths and cleared areas, and wear closed-toed shoes while hiking.

* For more information on how to recreate responsibly in Utah’s great outdoors, visit

By: Terry Messmer, Utah State University Extension wildlife specialist, 435-797-3975,

How Does Your Garden Grow? Tips for July

How does your garden grow? It can be a challenge to keep it growing well as summer heats up. Utah State University Extension’s Gardener’s Almanac provides a checklist of tasks to help your garden, grass and plants grow well in July. Also included are links for tips and further information.

July Checklist

·Start enjoying the tomato harvest.

·Side dress (fertilize) potatoes in the garden with nitrogen in early July.

·Harvest summer squash and zucchini when they are still small and tender.

·Deep water established trees and shrubs about once per month during the heat of summer.

·Deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms of perennial and annual flowers.

·Divide crowded iris or daylilies once they have finished blooming.

·Visit alpine areas for wildflower displays.

·Remove water sprouts (vertical shoots in the canopy) of fruit trees to discourage regrowth and to reduce shading.

·Renovate perennial strawberry beds by tearing out old crowns (mother plants) and applying fertilizer to stimulate new runners.

·Turfgrass only needs 1 ½ to 2 inches of irrigation per week. Click here to learn about irrigation needs in your area.

Pests and Problems

·If tomatoes are not producing, it could be due to hot weather (95°F and above), which causes flower abortion.

·Blossom end rot  (black sunken areas on the end of tomatoes) is common and is caused by uneven watering.

·Check under leaves of pumpkins, melons and squash plants for squash bugs.

·Treat corn for corn earworm.

·Spider mites prefer dry, hot weather and affect many plants. Treat for spider mites by using “softer” solutions such as spraying them with a hard stream of water or by using an insecticidal soap. Spider mites can be identified by shaking leaves over a white piece of paper. If the small specs move, you have mites.

·Control codling moth in apples and pears to reduce wormy fruit. For specific timing, see our Utah Pests Advisories.

·Historically, control of the greater peach tree borer in peaches, nectarines and apricots occurs the first of July.              However, for specific timing, see our Utah Pests Advisories.

·Click here for instructions on how to submit a sample to the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab.

·Watch for symptoms of turfgrass diseases.

·Monitor for damaging turfgrass insects.

To see a video on the July Gardener’s Almanac tips, click here.

Cool, Wet Spring Causing Leaf Diseases

Leaf diseases have become a concern this spring because of the cool, wet weather, and rain provides an efficient way for fungal and bacterial spores to spread. Fungal disease symptoms generally include irregular brown, yellow or black spots on leaves. If left unchecked, branches can also become infected. As the season progresses, the spots may turn into holes in the leaves.

There are several strategies to prevent and manage leaf diseases:

1. Manage irrigation systems so they do not spray the foliage.

2. Irrigate during daylight hours where possible, when foliage can dry quickly.

3. Clean up infected leaf litter in the fall, and prune out heavily infected branches.

4. Consider the role plant genetics play in diseases, and avoid planting certain species such as sycamore (Platanus spp.), aspen, English hawthorn and peonies since they are highly susceptible to foliar diseases.

Most chemicals used to control plant diseases are best used as a preventative. For most diseases that have been seen this year, the correct timing for spraying is just before, or just as, the plant is leafing out.

As of mid-June, diseases still common along the Wasatch Front include fungal anthracnose in maple, oak and especially sycamore; powdery mildew on many trees and perennials like apple and peony; coryneum blight (shot-hole fungus) in stone fruits and related ornamentals such as purple leaf sand cherry; and fire blight bacteria in apples, pears and related ornamentals such as pyracantha, hawthorn, serviceberry and cotoneaster.

The best time to prevent anthracnose is in early spring with a registered fungicide. As drier weather sets in, fungicide sprays to control anthracnose or coryneum blight are less effective. Make spray applications when leaves start to emerge. Repeat applications may be necessary if the weather stays wet and cool. The optimal time to treat coryneum blight is just after petals fall from the flowers in the spring. Another excellent time is in autumn when about half the leaves have fallen.

Powdery mildew on trees and shrubs can be suppressed in early spring with a dormant oil application just before leaves emerge. After leaves are formed, either a summer-weight horticultural oil or neem oil can be sprayed according to the label as a continued preventative until dry weather sets in. Where there is risk for severe infection based on history, spraying in the spring, according to label directions, with a registered fungicide is often warranted.

Fire blight is bacterial and usually enters a plant through open flowers or through wounds from rain or insects. Infected wood turns black or dark brown in apples, looks burned and may form a shepherd’s hook on young branches where blossoms were. Once an infection occurs, pruning is the only way to remove it. Make pruning cuts into healthy wood 6 to 12 inches beyond where symptoms occur. Pruning tools must be disinfected with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or disinfecting wipes after every cut. If fire blight is not pruned out, it will eventually kill the plant. Chemical sprays for fire blight are for prevention only and include agricultural antibiotics such as streptomycin or copper solutions. They must be sprayed when susceptible plants are flowering in the spring. Repeat applications may be needed during this time and will not harm pollinating insects.

It is also important to remember that not all discolored spots or holes in leaves are due to fungal or bacterial diseases. Nutrient deficiencies, such as severe iron deficiency, can cause leaves to get dead spots. Weather events, such as hailstorms and wind, account for most of the leaf damage on plant leaves.

For further information about anthracnose, visit the USU Extension Pest Lab website.

For further information about coryneum blight, see the USU Extension fact sheet.

For further information about powdery mildew, see the USU Extension fact sheet.

For further information about fire blight, see the USU Extension fact sheet.

By: Taun Beddes, Mike Caron,

Living in Snake Country – Six Things to Consider

For many, the sight of a snake is what nightmares are made of. Unfortunately, all too often Hollywood and has taken advantage of people’s fear of snakes for profit. Some companies may also market products or services that are ineffective at repelling snakes, and in some cases, these products may actually increase the risk to people and pets.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 6,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snake annually and that up to six snake bite victims may die. Annually, an estimated 90 human deaths occur from various venomous animal encounters. The stings and subsequent anaphylaxis from bees, wasps and hornets are responsible for over 90% of the reported human deaths.

Of the 31 species of snakes found in Utah, seven are venomous. These are commonly called pit vipers because of the pit located between their nostrils and eyes. Most pit vipers found in Utah also have tails with a series of rattles, hence the name rattlesnake.

All snakes are classified as non-game animals and are protected by Utah state law. A person cannot lawfully collect or possess a live wild snake without receiving a Certificate of Registration from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. When there are human, domestic pet and livestock safety concerns, a venomous snake may be killed without a certificate.

Because most snakes in Utah are non-venomous, most human-snake encounters are generally not dangerous. However, if you encounter a venomous snake and are bitten, the consequences could be serious. Consider these tips.

* If you encounter a snake, your best strategy is to leave it alone. Every year, hundreds of want-to-be herpetologists and snake charmers are bitten when they try to capture or kill a snake. Even dead snakes have been known to bite by reflex action. More than half of the reported snake bites were a result of someone trying to handle or kill the snake. It is always best to leave the area if you encounter one.

* When rattlesnakes are encountered or disturbed, the rapid vibration of their tails will make a

characteristic rattling sound to warn the intruder of their presence. However, not all rattlesnakes will “rattle” when disturbed. For this reason, when you are in rattlesnake country, you must pay close attention to where you walk, sit and place your hands. Rattlesnakes can be found throughout Utah in sagebrush, pinon-juniper woodlands, sand dunes, rocky hillsides, grasslands and mountain forests.

* If you hear a rattlesnake “rattle,” stand still until you can locate where the sound is coming from. Do not try to jump or run. If you do, you may end up within the snake’s striking range.

If bitten by a venomous snake, do not engage in physical activity such as walking or running. Do not apply a tourniquet to the area above the wound and do not apply a cold compress to the bite area. Do not cut into the bite. Do not take anything by mouth, including stimulants or pain medications, unless instructed by a physician. Do not raise the bite area above the level of the heart, and do not try to suction the venom, as doing so may cause more harm than good.

All venomous snakebites should be considered life threatening. When someone has been bitten by a venomous snake, time is of the essence. If possible, call ahead to the emergency room so anti-venom can be ready when the victim arrives. Until then, keep the victim calm, restrict movement and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom. Wash the bite area with soap and water. Remove any rings or constricting items, as the affected area will swell. Cover the bite with clean, moist dressing to reduce swelling and discomfort. Monitor the victim’s vital signs (pulse, temperature, breathing, blood pressure). If there are signs of shock, lay the victim flat and cover with a warm blanket. Get medical help immediately. If possible, bring in the dead snake for identification if this can be done without risk of injury.

* Bites from venomous snakes will almost instantly show signs of swelling and discoloration of the surrounding tissue. Other symptoms include a tingling sensation, nausea, rapid pulse, loss of muscle coordination and weakness. Also, bites from rattlesnakes will show two characteristic fang marks (punctures) as well as other teeth marks. Non-venomous snakebites are harmless, but there is still a risk of infection. If bitten, clean and sterilize the wound much like you would a cut or abrasion.

More information about snakes is available at

Gardener’s Almanac Checklist for June

It has been said that June is the gateway to summer. With that comes many opportunities to be out in the yard and garden. Utah State University Extension’s Gardener’s Almanac provides a checklist of tasks for June as well as links for tips and further information.


·Harvesting of asparagus spears should stop in early June to allow the fronds to form for the rest of the growing season.

·Prune tomatoes to open the canopy of the plant.

·Consider drip irrigation in the garden to conserve water.

·Consider planting sweet corn in the garden every other week (until early July) to extend the harvest.

·Prune spring flowering shrubs (those that bloom before June) after they have bloomed to encourage new flower buds for next season.

·Deadhead (cut off) spent blossoms of perennial and annual flowers.

·Thin the fruit of apples, peaches and apricots to approximately one fruit in every 5-6 inches.

·Apply a second application of pre-emergent herbicides in early June to control annual weeds in the lawn such as crabgrass and spurge.

·Turfgrass only needs 1-1 ½ inches of irrigation per week. Click here for irrigation needs in your area. 

Pests and Problems:

·Monitor vegetables and herbs for earwig damage.

·Protect ash trees with a registered chemical to prevent lilac/ash borer damage.

·Control Codling moth in apples and pears to reduce wormy fruit. For specific timing, see the Utah Pests Advisories.

·Treat for powdery mildew on apples when leaves are emerging (at 1/2 inch green) until June.

·Watch for insect pests in raspberries from mid-May thru early June. For specific timing, see the Utah Pests Advisories.

·Control the Western cherry fruit fly when fruit changes color from straw color to pink to avoid maggots in cherries.

·Control the Peach twig borer in peaches, nectarines and apricot trees. For specific timing see the Utah Pests Advisories.

·Monitor for damaging turfgrass insects. In areas previously damaged, consider a preventative (systemic) insecticide.

Be Kind Utah Campaign Underway

Research continues to show that kindness is one of the most important qualities in marriage and parent-child relationships. It has been shown to improve personal happiness when people turn outward and are kind to others.

According to David Schramm, Utah State University Extension family life specialist, there are many ways to practice kindness. It starts with being observant and aware of opportunities to help people in need.

“A kind word, smile or action can help others who may be suffering,” he said. “Other simple ways include giving honest compliments, celebrating someone’s success or good news, sending a text or email that expresses appreciation and/or love, celebrating someone you love or admire, helping a neighbor, sharing food, standing up for others or donating clothing and other things you don’t need to a worthy cause.”

Schramm said he works closely with the Family Place, a nonprofit organization located in Logan, Hyrum and Smithfield, that aims to strengthen families and protect children. The organization recently launched a Be Kind Utah campaign, which is an initiative designed to increase and build awareness of acts of kindness throughout the state of Utah. The goal is to record 1 million acts of kindness in 40 days during Utah Family Month, which isthe five weeks between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Organizers of Be Kind Utah said the goal of the campaign is to:

  • Increase compassion in Utah communities;
  • Support Utah’s effort to become a trauma-informed state by bolstering emotional resilience;
  • Strengthen community bonds by developing empathy, respect and humanity among community members;
  • Provide communities with support by providing information about resources.

“If all of us would slow down a bit and take more time to be kind, there would be less hurt and more hope and happiness,” Schramm said. “We can all be a little more kind in our thoughts, words and actions. We can express more gratitude and think of others before ourselves. I really believe kindness is a part of the answer to many of our social and family struggles today. We should throw it around like confetti!”

Visit for information on the campaign. Participants are invited to pledge the number of acts of kindness they plan to be part of. The campaign hashtag is #BeKindUT2019.

Writer: Julene Reese,

Contact: David Schramm,

Landscaping Tips for Season-long Color

Color in the landscape adds visual appeal and seasonal splendor. Many homeowners try to select plants that will offer season-long interest, add consistency and tie the landscape design together.

 Harmony in a landscape is often accomplished when the same color schemes are repeated. When planning and planting, it is good to remember some general rules: 

* Cool colors, such as shades of green, blue and soft pastels, blend well together and tend to make an area seem larger in appearance. These colors also suggest calmness or tranquility.

* Warm colors, such as shades of red, orange and yellow, jump out visually and act as colorful accents. These colors invite and imply liveliness.

* Complementary colors are those colors that most optimally accentuate each other. Yellow is considered complementary to purple. Red is complementary to green. Orange is complementary to blue. White is a universal color that complements all colors.

* When planting for color, it is important to think of the importance of the foliage effect as well as the flower color. Some plants offer different textures while others put on a spectacular show in the autumn as their colorful leaves proclaim the end of the season.

* Choosing a variety of plants with staggered bloom times, along with those that add unique textures and distinctive leaf colors, adds seasonal interest to any landscape. But with literally thousands of options to choose from in plant material, it can be overwhelming when deciding which plants to buy. Browsing through catalogs and magazines can help give ideas. It is also helpful to visit nurseries and garden centers throughout the year to see what plants are in bloom at what time.

* For simplification purposes, the following bloom times have been organized:

spring bloomers – March through mid-May; summer bloomers – late May through mid-August; fall bloomers – late August through October. As a general rule, most perennials provide blossoms for 3 to 4 weeks. Deadheading or removing spent blossoms will encourage re-blooming.

The USU Extension fact sheet, Landscaping for Seasonal Color, includes some of the more commonly sold plants and trees and their approximate bloom times, along with plants that offer variety to the landscape in the form of texture and seasonal leaf color.

As always, it is important to remember that Mother Nature is consistently in charge. Weather variations and other climatic changes can influence bloom time and color intensity.

By: JayDee Gunnell, USU Extension regional horticulturist

 Sheriden Hansen, USU Extension assistant professor, Davis County,

Financial Health by Decades

By: Amanda Christensen, USU Extension associate professor,

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, combined with a review of research and consultation with leading experts, found that financial well-being includes the following four elements:

  1. Having control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances.
  2. Having the capacity to absorb a financial shock.
  3. Being on track to meet your financial goals.
  4. Having the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life.

Another way to think about it is that financial well-being is the feeling of having financial security and financial freedom of choice, both in the present and when considering the future.

So – what does financial health look like at each age? Timing will vary from person to person, but below are suggested financial milestones to achieve at each decade of life. This is not an all-inclusive list, but provides a foundation of things to consider. Milestones achieved at earlier ages, such as a good credit score and an adequate emergency fund, should continue into the following years.

  • Age 10: Learn to add and subtract, sell a service or good for money (i.e. lemonade, car washing, cookies, babysitting, cleaning, etc.). Save up for something you really want, use money to buy a gift for someone or donate to a charity.
  • Age 10-20: Work at a job for money, have checking/savings accounts, establish a Roth IRA, decide the type of lifestyle you’d like to live, what salary you’ll need for that lifestyle, and what career/job you’ll need to support that. Build credit with a credit card that has a low borrowing limit and use it regularly, but pay it off monthly.
  • Age 20: Learn to invest, budget, track income and expenses, regularly contribute to a Roth IRA and build credit. Make on-time debt payments, stay below 30% of your allotted credit amount on credit cards, save for emergencies, have $1,000 in anemergency fund, save for 3 months’ worth of expenses in a separate savings account and obtain adequate insurance.
  • Age 30: Achieve financial independence from parents, including independent living arrangements and no “subsidies” to pay expenses such as insurance premiums and cell phone bills. Have student loan debt completely repaid or close to repayment, have a year’s worth of salary (1x) saved for retirement, and establish a good credit history with a credit score in the mid-700s or higher. Become a regular at saving/investing, have at least 3 months’ worth of income set aside for emergencies, have educational credentials such as certifications and graduate/professional degrees earned or near completion, and have current estate planning documents and life insurance to protect dependents or co-signers, if applicable.
  • Age 40: Have three times annual salary (3x) saved for retirement, saving at least 15% of gross income, establish a college savings for children, if applicable, and increase investing expertise and diversification of investment portfolio assets. Increase human capital, including job skills and knowledge to remain employable and earn promotions/raises.
  • Age 50: Have six times annual salary (6x) saved for retirement; make catch-up retirement savings plan contributions, increase knowledge about the specifics of Social Security, Medicare and employer retirement benefits, increase knowledge of aging parents’ finances and communication about caregiving-related issues. Use financial advisers, as needed, as net worth increases and finances become more complex.
  • Age 60: Have eight times annual salary (8x) saved for retirement, have mortgage paid off, home equity loan, and credit card debt paid off prior to retirement. Use catch-up retirement strategies, if needed, such as downsizing, moving, working longer and selling assets, learning new skills and/or making other preparations to transition to a “second act” job or volunteer role.

Questions to ask yourself: Am I on track with the suggested financial milestones at each decade? What would it take to get on track with my current decade? For more information about financial milestones by decades, visit For more real-life money smarts, visit Join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram @utahmoneymoms.