Top 2 Popular Options for Saving for Your Child’s Education

Author – Amanda Christensen

Top 2 Popular Options for Saving for Your Child's Education

Does having children worry you about their financial future? You’re not alone. A recent survey by Citi of 1,500 parents found that 56 percent of parents surveyed “are not confident that life for their children’s generation will necessarily be better than it has been for their generation.”

Are you wondering what you can do to help your children now? We’ve put together two Popular Options for Saving for Your Child’s Education.

The first thing families should do is decide where educational savings fits into their overall financial goals. Buying a home, preparing for retirement and providing an education for the children tend to be the three most costly family objectives. Few families have the means to tackle all three at the same time. It’s been said that you can’t get a scholarship for retirement. There are more options to cover the costs of higher education (scholarships among them) beyond having the savings entirely on hand. Given that, I suggest a retirement strategy be in place before establishing a means for college savings.

Here are two currently popular options: a 529 plan and the use of a Roth IRA.

529 Plans

A 529 plan is named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, the provisions of which allowed for their creation in 1996, and each state has at least one. In our state, it is the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) and it is consistently rated among the very best in the nation.

  • A 529 savings account is initially set up for a named beneficiary, however, the recipient can be changed to another family member, with a wide range of people who can be named, including a first cousin. The donor to the account is in full control of the assets.
  • Beneficiaries can attend qualified schools throughout the nation, not just in the state where the plan is held. This includes most community colleges, universities and even some vocational schools.
  • The fees and other maintenance costs associated with 529 plans are generally lower than with other investments. This is especially true for direct purchase plans like UESP. These are self-directed plans.
  • Among the UESP options are an FDIC insured account and a range of investment accounts that adjust with the beneficiary’s age. They automatically shift from aggressive investments to more conservative choices as the child draws nearer to college age.
  • Contributions to a UESP plan (and other state 529 plans) are not tax deductible, but all earnings from investments in the plan are free from federal taxes. The USEP plan is also free from state taxes. This means that when distributions are made to pay for qualified expenses, there are no taxes due. Current Utah law also allows state residents to claim a tax credit based upon USEP donations.
  • If distributions are not used for educational expenses, the earnings on your contributions are taxable and are also subject to a 10 percent penalty.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is another savings option that many families are considering for college expense planning. A Roth IRA was developed as a retirement savings program. Contributions to a Roth are not deductible, but earnings grow tax free.

  • While contributions to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn anytime, withdrawals of earnings prior to age 59 1⁄2 are subject to taxes and penalties. That is, unless the funds are used for higher education purposes. This provision means that it is possible for families to use a Roth IRA for both retirement and college preparation.
  • There are two other benefits of a Roth IRA. First, lower income tax filers may get a federal tax credit for contributions to a Roth IRA. Second, unlike an education savings account, retirement accounts like a Roth IRA are generally not considered when applying for financial aid. On the other hand, there are limits to annual Roth IRA contributions. If you use half of your retirement savings to send your kids to school, you may need to bank on them getting a good enough education and career to support you during retirement.

In summary, here are some issues families should consider:

  • Tax considerations are an important aspect, but not the only factor to consider.
  • Risk levels, potential rates of return and the range of investment opportunities will be part of any strategy.
  • The investor must determine how much or how little professional help they desire.
  • Family income levels and the number of children involved are critical components. Well-to-

do grandparents with lots of descendants have different challenges and opportunities than newlyweds expecting their first child.

Which will it be? A Roth IRA, a 529 savings plan or some other option? Think about it now because the toddler munching Cheerios on your kitchen floor today will be off to college before you know it.


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 Me:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro

Resource Roundup – Food $ense

have you used Food $ense? Plan, cook, eat, & recipes

Have you been over to the Food $ense website? It’s a wonderful website with tips on how to include your family in planning, cooking, and eating.

Be sure to check out these different areas:
Plan – Plan to Save, Plan a Menu, & Plan to Shop
Cook – Cooking Basics, Cooking Skills, & Cooking Safely
Eat – Eat Well, Eat Together, & Eat with the Kids

What is Food $ense?
Food$ense is Utah’s Snap Ed Program. They provide nutrition education to low-income individuals and families throughout the state. Food$ense holds workshops throughout the state to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles among food stamp recipients and eligible.

Click here to learn more about Snap-Ed & Program.

Looking for more help with choosing what to eat? Also be sure to stop by ChooseMyPlate.gov for some great information!

4 Tips and Reminders for Harvest Preservation

Author – SuzAnne Jorgensen

4 tips and reminders for harvest preservation

The golden leaves and the beginning of cooler weather remind us that it is once again harvest season. Whether you are preserving end-of-the-season garden items or canning deer or other game meats, it is important to follow safe canning principles.

Remember to adjust for altitude. Many recipes are written for sea level with a reminder of altitude adjustment in the beginning of the recipe book. For pressure canning in higher altitudes, the pressure is generally increased. For water bath canning, the time is increased. Contact your local USU Extension county office for an altitude chart specific to your county.
Have your pressure canner gauge tested annually. Canner gauges should be tested once a year before canning. Call your local county Extension office for an appointment. In many offices, you can drop your lid (with gauge attached) by their office for testing. Call first to be sure.
Follow an approved, laboratory-tested recipe and don’t make adjustments to recipes. USDA, Ball (Kerr is now owned by the same company as Ball), the Center for Home Food Preservation, and Land-grant University Extension Services such as USU Extension are the most approved recipe sources. There are many recipes that are passed around that may not be safe. Information can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at www.uga.edu/nchfpor on the USU Extension website at http://extension.usu.edu/foodpreservation/.
Fruits (high acid foods) can be canned in a boiling water canner, and vegetables and meats (low acid foods) need to be pressure canned. Although we think of tomatoes as being acidic and safe for water-bath canning, their pH level usually falls on the border, so acid should be added. Be sure to follow guidelines from an approved source. Do not can tomatoes from a dead or frost-killed vine. When vegetables are added to tomatoes, as with salsa, the pH level is raised and sufficient acid needs to be added to be safe.

Freezing Foods. Foods preserved by freezing do not have as many safety guidelines, and most of the recommendations for freezing are for quality rather than safety. Blanching is recommended for longer-term freezing to stop the enzyme activity and help preserve the quality of the fruits or vegetables.

SuzAnne Jorgensen works with adult and youth groups and individuals to educate them in the areas of canning, food safety, nutrition, finances, small business and many other topics related to home, family and business through Utah State University Extension in Garfield County.

@FamFinPro’s 3 Baby Steps for Budgeting

Author – Amanda Christensen

3 baby steps for budgeting

The “B” word is not always a pleasant one in the money management world. Honestly, when you read the word “budget,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Unrealistic? Stress? Confined? Restricting? But you have to start somewhere. You might then ask, “What are some baby steps for budgeting?”

First things first: stop calling it a “budget.” Yikes! That word is daunting. Let’s call it a “spending plan” instead, ok?

Next: You have to have the desire to start managing your money. You want to see how much money you spend eating out. You want to cut back on your monthly utility bills. Maybe there is a fun trip you are planning for next summer and you’d like to have a good chunk of money set aside to spend. Or how about a little more Christmas money for that extra special someone’s Christmas gift? Whatever the reason, you have to want to take charge and move forward to make changes.

3 Baby Steps:

1. Automate your savings. This is the KEY to getting off on the right start. Automating a chunk of your paycheck to deposit into a savings account is a fool-proof way to set money aside. You don’t have to remember a monthly transaction, and the money is moved from checking to savings without you touching it. (Less temptation to spend.).

2. Take out your personal allowance in cash every month. Allowing yourself to spend some of your money every month is an absolute must! Decide how much and what the money can be used for (entertainment, fast food, gifts, etc.) and stick to it. Take the money, in cash, out of the bank and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

3. Use PowerPay. Powerpay.org is your new best friend. This is a free website that allows you to enter all your debts and see how long it will take to pay them off. Whatever steps you take to prepare for this holiday season, make sure you take time to manage your spending. Stop in or call your local USU Extension office for more money management tips or check www.usu.edu/extension.

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 Me:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro

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.


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)


(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


“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 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 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.