Michigan State University Extension: MI Family Living

Raising Kids, Eating Right, Spending Smart

Saving Water Can Save You Money and Valuable Natural Resources January 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mifamilyliving @ 3:13 pm
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Saving Water Can Save You Money and Valuable Natural Resources

There are so many ways to rethink how we use water. For many of us our water is metered and we do pay for how much we use. Some water saving tips may seem too extreme or impractical to tackle – like rerouting our laundry and dish water into our flower gardens. There are other small steps we can take to reduce the amount of water we use every day and may be some day we could work up finding other ways to save water use.

So where do you start – look at how you use water every day. In the bathroom, you could start conserving water by simply turning off the water while you shave or brush your teeth. Check the clock before you get in the shower and when you get out. Can you shorten the time in the shower by shaving with a sink full of water and then showering? If your toilet runs constantly repair any leaks as this is a big waste of water. In the kitchen, you could keep drinking water in a container in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run when you want cold water. Scrape rather then rinse your dishes when you load the dishwasher and only run a full load of dishes. In the laundry room, wash only full loads of laundry with the appropriate water level and use cold water.

Next, if you have water sprinklers (and this is my personal favorite) learn how to use the sprinkler system so that you can turn your sprinkler OFF when it is raining, (and watch the weather reports and turn it off the day before it is scheduled to go on) water the garden during the coolest part of the day and set your sprinklers so they are not watering the sidewalk or driveway. And maybe – see if you can avoid USING your sprinkler system. Save the water for vegetables that you eat. Only water your lawn during the driest months of the summer. And instead of hosing off your driveway to clean it sweep it of debris.

You could see a dramatic difference in your water bill just with these ways to lower your water flow in your home. After you have established these practices in your home, you can graduate to even more water saving strategies.

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2012 Financial Health Resolutions December 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mifamilyliving @ 11:03 am
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Give yourself the gift of Financial Health by visiting: mimoneyhealth.org and taking the financial health survey. It will take 20-30 minutes and you need your financial records to do so. What a great way to start the year and set some financial goals for yourself and your family. Come back annually and compare your score. Strive for improvements each year. There are many other resources at this website to help you reach your financial goals.

 

It’s Time to Look into the Financial Mirror December 21, 2010

Filed under: Financial Management — mifamilyliving @ 4:04 pm

Have you every calculated your net worth?  Do you know what it means to calculate your net worth?  I believe this is one of the most important calculations that people need to do from a financial stand point.  Net worth is a basic measurement of where you are financially at that moment.  Besides providing a base line to create a financial plan and a budget, it can bring attention to possible financial problems or give you a quick overview of assets you might not have really thought much about.

The basics of calculating net worth –   subtract what you OWE from what you OWN.

First, total up your assets.  This includes:  Monetary – cash on hand, checking account, savings, CDs, etc., Property – vehicles, home, household furniture, personal property, etc., and Investments – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement funds, IRA’s collectables etc.

Next, add up your liabilities: Home mortgage, Auto loans, Installment loans, Student loans, Credit card balances, overdue taxes/bills, and Create a total of these liabilities.

Finally, subtract the liabilities total from the asset total and you have your net worth.   Remember this is just a benchmark for you to set goals and be realistic about your finances.   The younger you are the smaller the net worth.  The older you are the more you should be worth.  Look at it as your yearly financial health check up!  Have a great 2011!

 

Holiday Purchases December 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mifamilyliving @ 3:33 pm
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A colleague shared the following information. Gift card USE by our families and friends may not be as easy as we thought when we “gifted” them the card.   Holiday “budgeting” can make us feel like scrooge before the holidays but we will be better off following this friendly advice when holiday shopping.  Check out these informational pieces before you purchase gifts:

The Federal Trade Commission has two tip sheets for holiday buying.

The fact sheets can be found at:     http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/11/giftcards.shtm

and

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt082.shtm .

 

Taking Charge of Credit for the Holidays November 18, 2010

Filed under: Financial Management,Uncategorized — mifamilyliving @ 2:30 pm

Determine how much debt you can afford.
Go into the New Year without holiday debt.
Create a plan to get out of debt.
Set a budget for holiday shopping and entertaining.
Develop ideas on how to enjoy your holidays for less.

FREE workshop to improve your spending during holiday time.
DECEMBER 4, 2010
10 AM – 12 PM
VerKuilen Building
21885 Dunham Rd.
Clinton Township, MI 48036

Sponsored by Michigan State University Extension and United Way

 

Shopping for the Holidays November 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mifamilyliving @ 12:39 pm
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As Christmas (the holiday my family celebrates) approaches I have become increasingly aware of my credit card and the balance I carry. Like many other Michiganders our family has experienced the loss of income and has felt the pain of increasing costs. I decided this year to plan for the holidays ahead of time and not go deeper into debt.

I did some research and found five simple steps to reduce my spending and have a less stressful Christmas.

• Step one: Make a budget. Write down who you have to buy for and how much you will be spending on each person. Now, I must follow through.

• Step two: Identify your needs and wants. Like Santa I will be checking my list twice for who I need to buy for and who I can pass on this year.

• Step three: Get Creative. This is a hard one for me, I am not so creative but, I did find a good website http://www.instructables.com. This year I will make a few homemade gifts and hope my family remembers it’s the thought that counts.

• Step four: Join Together. This year I will teach my children the importance of volunteerism. Look for a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter and ask them how you can help.

• Step five: Avoid the holiday hangover. This year I will buy without parent guilt and will not give into the holiday hype! I will not search for the “must have” toy; I will get what my kids need. I will not overdo and I will not stress over the “to do” list.

This year I will go into the New Year feeling grateful and without creating new debt.

 

Turkey Talk November 5, 2010

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — mifamilyliving @ 4:07 pm

I love to cook Thanksgiving Dinner.  I love to have my family all home.  I love to try new recipes for some traditional Thanksgiving dinner food.  That is why I am thinking about what I want to prepare for dinner right now – early in the month of November.  I am looking through magazine recipes I have  – yes I do have hard copy recipes in file folders from magazines I have collected.  I also love to surf different websites and blogs for other possibilities too.  I pull out all of the recipes for  dishes I would LIKE to make.  It is always more than I will use, but as I get closer to Thanksgiving,  I start to weed out those that will take too much time or don’t work with the other dishes I am making.   I start drafting my menu and writing down my shopping list of ingredients I will need.  It is a good time to go through  spices in your cupboard to see if you need fresh herbs or new dried herbs.  I also write down a schedule for what I might be able to make the day or two before the holiday, what I can do the night before  and then  what time the turkey and the other foods  need to go into the oven.

This year I am also checking out local farms who may be raising turkeys near me.  IF I want to have a fresh local turkey – I need to order that now. I need to figure out how many people could be coming to dinner and how big the turkey will need to be – you need to allow at least one pound of turkey per person.  You also need to make room in your freezer if you will be buying a frozen turkey – and then allow plenty of time for it to thaw in your refrigerator before the big day.  It may take 2 to 5 days for that turkey to thaw depending on how much it weighs.

If you aren’t sure how long to thaw your turkey or how long to cook it there is the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854)  as well as the USDA site:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

I don’t know about you but I do love the leftovers.  Again, there are so many recipes for using turkey but my favorite is to have a good homemade loaf of bread sliced thick,, spread some cranberry sauce, add the turkey and a couple of slices of brie cheese, 3-4 slices of a Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apple, and romaine lettuce and YUM!

You should break down your leftover food into smaller containers.  My husband and I buy extra plastic containers and send mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and turkey home with our parents, the college kids and anyone else who wants some.  They will have a great meal the next day as well.

And if you are totally exhausted Thanksgiving weekend or are headed out to the mall for the sales events, put your turkey carcass in a large ziplock bag and freeze it if you don’t have time to make a turkey soup.

Oh, the holiday food, I can’t wait!