3.5 reasons to think twice about getting a pet

Okay, so now I have a grand-cat. Her name is Cleo and this is her selfie.

My son really wanted a dog to keep him company in his new apartment. I get that pets provide companionship and I do like pets. Getting a pet can be training for a young adult on becoming responsible for another being.

It’s just that:

1) They need to be fed. Cats need a litter box–at least until you might train them to use and flush the toilet.

2) They need visits to the vet along with vaccinations. This is just once a year as long as they are well, but….

2.5) What if they get sick, or have fleas? This is an added cost.

3) And heaven forbid you find you are allergic to your beloved.

He’s had the cat three days and the cost so far is $150. Glad he has a job! I hope he isn’t allergic to this one because I’m not wanting to adopt right now.

Seven sources of free movies and TV

On-this-top-10-list-you-will-find-the-best-ways-to-watch-movies-online-read-movie-reviews-and-enjoy-film-streaming-for-free_My son moved to the fourth place to start his fourth year at UTK. He’s excited for this next step in his life adventure. He’s also learning that money doesn’t go as far sans roommates. He quickly decided the cost of cable was not necessary….even though he’s a movie junkie!

Many options are available for movie and television entertainment at no cost. Most folks are familiar with the pranks, cute pet tricks, music videos and educational/information content on YouTube. But it also has older movies. Another non-ad-supported option is Internet Movie Archive, which as the title might suggest, has a library/database search engine appearance. It’s a source for full-length older movies, sporting events, propaganda films and news broadcasts. As I scanned the sections and clicked on various items, I found political speeches, old commercials, and September 11 programming. Vimeo offers a wide variety of content including short form videos from amateur and indie filmmakers. Without joining, you can check out staff picks by scrolling down their main page.

Several free options are supported by advertising. Crackle mixes B-movies and older television content with the occasional hit. You can view some of this content without registering. Hulu has television shows and movies as well as a subscription services for a greater variety of content. SnagFilms categorizes documentaries, classics and film festival favorites. It has an app for major platforms. Viewster also has an app and offers obscure movies and television, but it also offers other content. For example, there is a celebrity news category that referenced Robin Williams’ recent death.

After perusing all these options, I think I will look into cutting out a paid movie service myself. :)



Is College Still a Good Investment?

Student Looking at GlobeRecent media reports might have you thinking that a college education is no longer a good investment. Some of the stories are of student loans topping a trillion dollars. Other stories note that student loan debt surpasses the total amount of credit card debt. But the news isn’t all bad…

Last month the Federal Reserve Bank of New York wrote that attending college is still a good investment because workers with a bachelor’s degree earn over $1 million more than those with only a high school degree.

Students and their parents are also increasingly turning to grants and scholarships to pay for college. On average this type of free money now pays for 30 percent of college costs, up five percent from four years ago, according to Sallie Mae. But parents and students still carry the burden. In the 2013 Sallie Mae study parents covered 36 percent of college costs and students covered 29 percent on average. Since it is still such a great investment to attend college, the trick becomes building your savings and finding as much free money as you can to reduce the amount of your loans.

5 Tips for Saving for College

  • Start Saving as Soon as Possible – Even small amounts of saving will build up over time and will reduce the amount of loans you have to pay back later. Two popular ways to save are through 529 plans and savings bonds. There is a lot to know when choosing a savings option, so visit the links to learn more.
  • Find Free Money – This can be the key to saving you thousands of dollars in interest you would need to pay later. There are billions of dollars available to those who put in the effort to apply. Check out StudentAid.gov, Sallie Mae scholarships, and College Board financial aid.
  • Work While You’re in School – Remember that any money you can save or earn before and during college will reduce the amount of loans you need to take and save you money you would pay later.
  • Consider Your Options – College costs a lot. You may have dreamt about going to that Ivy League school , but can you afford it? Compare the amount you will need to pay at the colleges you get into. You may find that one school offers you more grants than another.
  • Get Tips and Reminders to Save – America Saves can help students and their parents keep college savings top of mind. Sign up for our free text message tips and reminders by taking the Pledge to Save and choosing “Education” as your savings goal.

Need to find ways to save. Consider taking the Personal Financial Management Made Easy  course to find spending leaks.

Former Biggest Loser contestant to help children form healthier eating habits

Forming healthy eating and lifestyle habits at an early age can save that person money down the road. The sooner families get started, the better. UT/TSU Extension in Madison County is offering two programs to educate and motivate.Eat Right Future Bright Logo2

Frustrated parents and grandparents often ask how to get little Johnny or Suzi to eat better. There’s no silver bullet answer to the question. However, adults can be good role models, recognize their job is to provide wholesome food, and keep the best options in sight. Allowing for “sometimes” foods on occasion helps children to learn that no food has to be off limits. Those are just a few ideas to get started.

While childhood food choices don’t always lead to obesity, the combination of poor choices and inactivity can cause health problems both sooner and later. With childhood obesity in Tennessee the tenth worst in the county, August’s Kids Eat Right Month is a perfect time for young people and their family members to learn how to work together for healthier eating and lifestyle habits. UT Extension in Madison County has two upcoming offerings to help families.

Joe Ostaszewski, former Florida State football player and Biggest Loser season 14 participant, has partnered with National 4-H Council and will be stopping in Jackson at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 16 as part of his bike ride across America. The purpose of Joe’s Riding it Forward tour is to inspire young people and their families to live active, healthy lives. He will share the story of how he overcome his battle with obesity.

UT/TSU Extension’s Healthy Habits Day will run from 9-11 a.m. at the Madison County Ag Complex, 309 N. Parkway. It will include games and sample snacks that can motivate youth to enjoy healthier foods. This event is free to the public and all ages are welcome to attend.

University of Tennessee Extension in Madison County also plans to extend the learning into September with Eat Right! Future Bright! This interactive program is for parents and their school-age children who exceed the recommended weight for their height and age. This program will be Tuesdays, September 9, 16, 23, and 30 / 5:30‐7 p.m. More information will be available at Healthy Habits Day.

For more information about any health and human development programs from UT/TSU Extension in Madison County, send an email to aelizer@utk.edu.

Plan before you do the back-to-school shopping

The back-to-school shopping season is second only to Christmas for times when parents spend money. Expenses add up for supplies and clothing. The children also seem to have their own ideas about how to start the school year off right. Here are some ideas for parents who want to plan before going shopping:
1) Allow children to be in on planning. Help them to understand that some items are necessary and some are more flexible.
2) Get a list from an office supply or other store. You can estimate what the cost will be before actually making purchases and comparison shop.
3) When making a budget, remember extra fees for workbooks or special supplies, or items that teachers need brought in such as hand wipes or sanitizer.
4) School lunches will have to be purchased until a child knows if he or she will be eligible for free or reduced cost lunch.
5) Extra-curricular and after-school activities have their own costs that hit at this same time.
6) Consider postponing clothing purchase for cooler weather, especially for a child who is growing rapidly.
7) Keep in mind that kids feel intense pressure to fit in. Having the latest character lunch box or designer jeans is important to them. If parents can’t afford or don’t wish to pay for costly items, they can ask older children who have some money to pay for costs above the basic. For younger children, consider compromising for at least one special item.
8) If a child routinely wants more than their parents can afford, or think they should spend, it is past time to consider an allowance that covers such expenses. Shifting decision-making power usually ends arguments.

Are you planning to pay for college/grad school for your children?

grad-school-yellowThis morning I talked with my son about an exciting idea–his college graduation! He’s spent time wavering between 1) double major in finance and environmental studies; 2) major in finance with an environmental studies study-abroad component; and 3) finance with a environmental studies minor….still wants to study abroad. It appears he’s going to go for option 1 or 3. Three is the preference if he gets a plan where he can work through an exchange between UT and another institution.

The good news is that he can graduate on time with the finance major, the minor and no study aboard. The other news (I’m not considering it bad) is that he’s decided to go on and get a Master’s degree….maybe in another state.

My parents paid for my college and early graduate studies…so that’s my aim for my son. Because I am a planner, I have been working for some time to build additional funds to assist him with graduate school beyond the potential 5 years to earn a double major.

Not all parents feel the need to do this and that’s okay. After all, there’s no scholarship for retirement…there are scholarships for postsecondary education. Families’ values and beliefs about who and how much the parents or the child will pay for school vary widely. Most are based on their own experiences.

My son can expect me to keep up certain living expenses that I covered while he was in undergrad. Graduate assistanceships can assist with tuition costs, as can working for the school or having an employer who covers graduate school costs.

No matter what stage a family is in when they start planning, saving and/or investing for education, it’s important to discuss who will be responsible and to what extent they will be responsible for the child’s post-secondary education costs. By discussing early, there are fewer surprises for anyone involved. Children can understand the realities. Parents can consider differing opinions. If starting to save or invest for your child’s college seems like the impossible dream, start now by understanding where your money is going. That way you can make informed decisions about how you spend and find ways to save. Consider taking the Personal Financial Management Made Easy course today!

How to Build a $1,000 Emergency Fund in 10 Months

By Katie Bryan, who works for America Saves. America Saves is managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of green pigAmerica (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.

Do you have $1,000 set aside for emergencies? If you already do, you could probably use another $1,000 in that account. Experts recommend keeping at least three months expenses in a reliable, liquid account – though even an extra $1,000 can be a life-saver. But finding $1,000 to save isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together this 4-step plan on how to save $1,000 in 10 months.

Get Started with These 4 Steps

  • Find a Safe Place to Save Your Money – You will want to save your money in an account that you can access easily in case of an emergency. That means you should probably not keep this savings in a U.S. Savings Bond or in mutual funds. Choose a traditional savings account or a short-term certificate-of-deposit (CD), currently the most attractive accounts. (Early withdrawal penalties on a CD rarely lower the yield below that of a savings account.) Consider opening a new account or sub-account for this money so you’re not tempted to spend it. Most importantly, do not keep savings in a checking account, which pays no or low interest and is too easy to access.
  • Save $100 a month – If you are already saving $100 a month, great! Skip to step 3. If not, you need to either earn $100 more a month or cut back in order to find that $100 to save. America Saves has a list of 54 ways to save money to get you started. It can also help to pay yourself first and save the $100 at the beginning of the month instead of waiting to see if you have money left over to save at the end of the month.
  • Automate Your Savings – Setting up an automatic way to save is one of the best ways to save. Once you set it up, then it happens without having to think about it. Here are two ways to automate your savings. 1. Every pay period, ask your employer to deduct $100 from your paycheck and transfer it to a savings account. Ask your HR representative for more details and to set this up. 2. Ask your bank or credit union to transfer $100 from your checking account to a savings account every month. Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up.
  • Watch Your Savings Grow for 10 Months – The final step is to sit back and watch your savings grow. How often do you look at the calendar and think it’s half way through 2014 already? The same will apply to your savings; Before you know it you will have that $1,000. They key is not to touch the money unless you have an emergency – that’s what the money is there for after all.


Once you have at least $1,000 in your emergency account, continue your savings success and continue to build your emergency savings or apply that money to a new savings goal. Perhaps you have debt you need to pay down or want to save for a car or home.

No matter what you are saving for, America Saves can support you with tips and advice through emails and text messages. Sign up for these by taking the America Saves Pledge Today.


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