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Living Well In Yalobusha County

Take Charge Of Your Finances In 2013

By Pamela Redwine

The New Year brings about many changes and this year the MSU- Extension Service will be experiencing some changes. Most of these changes will be title changes only, but some will experience duty changes.    
For the last 11 years I have been a Nutrition and Food Safety Area Agent, covering  eleven counties.   The last two years I have held my area agent position as well as one year as interim county director and in 2012 as interim Family and Consumer Agent in Yalobusha County with 4-H responsibilities.  I am very happy to announce that as of January 1, I will now be the Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent for Yalobusha County.   
I will be responsible for offering programs that help Yalobusha County citizens with topics such as Health, Nutrition, Financial Management, Child and Family issues, Food Safety, Sewing, Food Preservation, Leadership, and Economic Development, for both adults and Youth (4-H).  Mr. Brent Gray will remain the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent as well as serve as our County Coordinator.  And Mrs. Lisa Dudley is our Office Associate and handles all of the Multi-Purpose Bookings.  We at the Extension Service are looking forward to a great 2013.  We hope that you will come see us in the coming year.  You can keep up with our events by following us on facebook  at  MSU – Yalobusha County Extension Service.

Healthy You Exercise Class
Join us for up to 45 minutes of low impact physical activity every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m.  Wear cool comfortable clothes, walking/ running shoes and bring water to drink.
Financial Fitness
After the New Year many of us think about getting our bodies in shape, but do we think about getting our finances in better shape?  To take charge of your physical health, doctors encourage you to “know your numbers,” such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index.  
Do an annual checkup to take charge of your financial health by answering the following questions:
1. Do you spend less than you earn?
2. Do you spend no more than 15 to 20 percent of your monthly income for credit payments, including car payments, credit cards, and all other debts (not including your house payment or mortgage)?
3. Do you have an emergency saving fund to cover at least three months of your living expenses?
If you answered “yes” to all of the questions above, then your finances should be in great shape!  If you answered “no” to any of the above, or you are unsure, you may need to complete a few money management exercises.
Exercise 1: Identify Income
List all sources of income and resources used to pay expenses for one month.  If you have several jobs or earners in the family, list each paycheck separately.  Use net income or take-home pay amounts.  
Exercise 2: List Debts
Write down each credit account with the monthly payment. Include care payments, credit cards, and all loans, except your house.  Total the monthly payments and divide that number by your total monthly income.
If the answer is more than 20 percent, it is time to start finding ways to lower your debt load.
Exercise 3: Track Expenses
List regular fixed expenses, like house payment or rent and other credit payments, first. That’s the easy part.  Flexible expenses that vary from month to month are harder to estimate. Record how much you spend for one whole month on flexible expenses, like groceries, utilities, and gasoline.
To track daily expenses, write down every cent you spend every day for a whole week. This can be a real eye-opener!
Exercise 4: Calculate Periodic Expenses
Periodic expenses that you pay only once or twice a year can cause budget problems if you don’t plan for them. Think through a normal year and make a list of the things you might need to buy for each month.  
Add up all of these periodic expenses to get an annual total and divide them by 12.  This is the amount you need to save every month to cover the annual periodic expenses not already included in your monthly living expenses.
Exercise 5: Compare Income to Expenses
Compare your income with your expenses. If you are spending less than you earn, you should have money to save for a rainy day and for future goals.  Good for you!
If you find you are spending more than you earn, you have only two choices: 1) reduce expenses or 2) increase income.  Although it may be hard to find ways to spend less or to earn more money, your financial health depends on it.
Exercise 6: Compare Expenses to Savings
Financially healthy families have an emergency savings account with enough money to cover at least 3 months of living expenses. Unfortunately, many families are just one paycheck away from bankruptcy and have no savings at all.
If you have no savings, start with the amount you need to cover periodic expenses each month.  Then begin saving for true emergencies.
Working to complete these exercise can be hard work, much like a treadmill test in a physical exam. It may not be something you want to do every day, but going through these exercises at least once or twice a year can help you see the areas you need to work on.

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