Finances

UConn Extension Hosts Fall Open House

New Haven officeNorth Haven—UConn Extension’s New Haven County Extension Center invites the public to a Fall Open House on Thursday, September 15, 2016 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 305 Skiff Street, North Haven.

The New Haven County Extension Resource Council, Inc. (NHCERC, Inc.), a volunteer organization supporting the educational outreach programs based in this center, is hosting this event. Faculty, staff, and volunteers will be available to discuss Extension outreach programs offered via this Extension Center. Brief spotlight presentations will be made on “4-H STEM Activities to Do with Kids”, “Your Garden in Fall” and “How we sometimes get sick from the food we eat”. Educational displays and materials will also on hand. At 5:45 pm there will be a very brief Annual NHCERC, Inc. Meeting followed by The Extension Volunteer Recognition Ceremony. The public is welcome to attend all or any portion of this event. Light refreshments will be available. Call 203. 407. 3160 for more information. RSVPs are appreciated.

The New Haven County Extension Center, one of eight county-based UConn Extension Centers, provides a wide variety of educational outreach programs for families and individuals, youth, staff, farmers, professionals, businesses, and social service and public agencies, among others, in New Haven County and beyond. UConn Extension faculty and staff, based in the New Haven County facility, work in fields such as 4-H youth development, food safety, master gardening, financial literacy, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and Connecticut Fitness and Nutrition Clubs In Motion (CT FANs IM) and coastal storm preparedness. For more information, visit http://www.extension.uconn.edu/extension-centers/newHaven.php.

UConn Extension connects the power of UConn research to local issues by offering practical, science-based answers to complex problems. UConn Extension enhances small businesses, the economic and physical well-being of families and offers opportunities to improve the decision-making capacity of community leaders. Extension provides scientific knowledge and expertise to the public in areas such as: economic viability, business and industry, family and community development, agriculture and natural resources. UConn Extension brings research to real life.

UConn is an equal opportunity employer and program provider. 

Connecticut Dairy Leads New England

By Bernard Dzielinski

President, Fairfield County Extension Council

 

dairy barn
Mary Margaret Cole at the Kellogg Dairy Barn on Jan. 16, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Hoard’s Dairyman recently provided a comprehensive review of total milk production in the United States. The data is summarized in the report by region.

Milk production in 2015 was a new record of 208.6 billion pounds, a modest gain of 1.3 percent. The story of the Northeast, including Connecticut, is that it added 500 million pounds for a 1.7 percent increase in 2015 over production in 2014. The west region had a major decline in milk production due to the California drought.

Statistic highlights for 2015 include that Connecticut dairy farmers lead the dairy farmers in the six New England states in milk production per cow at 20,842 pounds. This record is achieved with 120 dairies and average herd size of 158 cows (Vermont is second at 155 cows per herd). Production per cow beats Vermont by 3 percent. Connecticut dairy farmers also lead in average total milk production per herd at 3,299,983 pounds, beating Vermont by 5 percent.

Connecticut dairy farmers achieved these impressive records with the largest herd size in New England because our farmers are willing to invest and increase herd sizes to produce that recent record of 396 million pounds of milk in 2015. Innovative practices and cow comfort allows our dairy farmers to maximize efficiency. The dairy farmers confidence comes about from support the State of Connecticut provides through the safety net payments in the dairy support fund, which is part of the Community Investment Act.

The Community Investment Act was signed into law in 2005, and the dairy support program began in 2009. It counterbalances the drastic price swings of national milk pricing. According to a study led by UConn and Farm Credit East, dairy production and processing has a $1.3 billion economic impact statewide, and generates 4,286 jobs. As dairy farms continue to thrive, the economic benefits to Connecticut will also grow.

Price Study of CSAs in CT

2014 Price Study of Community Supported Agriculture Operations in CT

By Molly Deegan and Jiff Martin, UConn Extension

extension.uconn.edu
*For more information about this study, contact jiff.martin@uconn.edu

tomatoes
Photo: Jude Boucher

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): an arrangement whereby customers pay growers in advance of the growing season for a guaranteed share of the season’s harvest.

Background: In summer 2014 we investigated CSA prices that farm operations advertised on websites and producer association listings. Our goal was to have a better understanding of prices that farmers were charging for a standard summer vegetable share. This is the third year we have collected CSA pricing data, so we are able to track how pricing has changed, and also make county comparisons. Below is a SUMMARY of our findings, as well as a FULL LIST (pages 2-5) of the 92 CSAs and their prices that were included in the study.

SUMMARY

We found CSA pricing data for 92 farm operations. Standard summer vegetable shares were typically listed as July to October, and featuring vegetables, herbs, and sometimes flowers or small fruit. We did not attempt to compare the contents of CSA shares, nor did we evaluate pricing for add-on items such as flower shares, fruit shares, meat shares, egg shares, etc. When a range of weeks was promised for a given CSA share price (i.e. 16-18 weeks), the average number was used (i.e. 17 weeks). page1image15120 page1image15544 page1image15704

Average weekly price of 2014 Summer Vegetable CSA = $31 Maximum price = $50
Minimum price = $15 page1image17680 page1image17840  page1image18424

Standard Summer Vegetable CSA Pricing in CT: $31/share

Fairfield County- $31

Hartford County- $30

Litchfield- $28

Middlesex- $29

New Haven – $32

New London- $33

Tolland- $27

Windham- $34

 

To download the full summary and a listing of CSAs in Connecticut, please click here.

State’s Aquaculture Industry Nets Benefits from Changes in Federal Plan

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By Sheila Foran for UConn Today

Commercial shellfish farmers who use the ocean to grow their crops off the nation’s coastline now have the same kind of protection against crop losses as do people who farm on land, due to a recent change in federal policy.

The new language providing coverage was added to the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) as part of a recent Farm Bill and is a big deal for Connecticut’s $30 million aquaculture industry.

“We were thrilled to learn that after years of discussion with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), crops that have traditionally not been eligible for federal crop insurance have now been granted coverage under the NAP program,” said Tessa Getchis, a UConn aquaculture extension educator, who was instrumental in the policy change. “That’s a huge step forward for the aquaculture industry now that the program will cover losses due to named tropical storms and hurricanes.”

The program provides financial assistance to producers of what are normally considered non-insurable crops to protect against natural disasters resulting in crop losses or the prevention of crop planting. Before the new language, the law stated that commercial shellfish crops could be insured only if they were grown in containers or bags, but that’s not how it’s done in Long Island Sound.

Read more…

Decisions, Decisions

By Faye Griffiths Smith Extension Educator Family Economics and Resource Management

Making decisions about how we live our lives can be challenging. With so many products and options to choose from making the best choices for our families is often a complex task. With the internet, there is often so much information available at our fingertips it can be more difficult to reach a conclusion. For example, consider the last time you replaced a major appliance – were you surprised by the number of possibilities and features to choose from? Did more options and features make it easier or harder to decide?

Sustainable Decisions…Where Do You Start?

Living sustainably often means reviewing our long held habits and consciously finding ways to meet our needs and satisfy some of our wants in ways that are better for us and our world – both now and in the future.

How to get started

Like many families, you may be trying to keep expenses down. Is trying to live more sustainably going to cost you more time, energy and money? Can some sustainable living practices help you save money? Some of the most basic sustainable living operating principles can be found in this saying popular during the Great Depression: “Use If you and your family want to live more sustainably, where do you begin? First, think about sustainable living…what areas of common interest does everyone in the family or the household share?

  • Are you interested in making changes to lower the amount of waste your household produces?
  • Paper or plastic? Do you want to limit your use of non-renewable resources?
  • Do you simply want to buy more food grown locally?
  • It will be easier to make changes in areas your family agrees are important and they want to achieve together.
  • Is living more sustainably more expensive?
    Like many families, you may be trying to keep expenses down. Is trying to live more sustainably going to cost you more time, energy and money? Can some sustainable living practices help you save money? Some of the most basic sustainable living operating principles can be found in this saying popular during the Great Depression: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without.” Our landfills could give testimony to how much we throw away in our society.Advertising encourages us to buy newer products with more features. People often throw out items that still are usable rather than try to give them away or resell them. Though it may take more time and effort, repairing items can often be cost effective and reduce waste. Fashions can go out of style long before clothing wears out. Picking less trendy styles may be one way to get more use from your clothes. It has also become popular once again to refashion older clothing into new garments, home décor and crafts.
  • Needs versus Wants
    Families interested in keeping costs down often ask themselves the question “Is it a need or a want?” before making purchase decisions.

appliancesHow many appliances have you purchased but never used?

That is also a great question for those of us who want to live more sustainably. Though it is tempting to rush out and buy products with the latest technological advances, in most cases, we can probably manage without the most recent innovations for a while. Also, electronics and technological products tend to go down in price significantly after the first few months. Think of the variety of small kitchen appliances and products that have been developed in recent years that are limited in what they can do – quesadilla maker, juicer, sandwich maker and rice cooker. Unless you use these products frequently, you may find that they take up unnecessary space in your kitchen.

 

Saving for a Rainy Day

By Faye Griffiths-Smith Extension Educator, Family Economics and Resource Management

rainy dayThough we can’t accurately predict the future in detail, we can anticipate that there will be events in our lives that will be challenging. The loss of a job, home repairs such as a leaky roof or the need to replace a furnace, major car repair and medical bills are just a few examples of the financial dilemmas that families sometimes face. A recent report stated that almost half of American households don’t even have a few thousand dollars in emergency funds.

Your Emergency Fund

In the paper “Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications”, authors Lusardi, Schneider and Tufano* reported that almost half of American households stated that they would be unlikely to be able to come up with $2000 within 30 days. It can be very stressful to find ourselves without the funds to take care of our families’ needs.

Using credit cards or taking out a loan may make the situation worse by adding high interest rate charges to the initial debt. Wouldn’t it be great to reduce your family’s chances of being overwhelmed when similar situations occur? Having money in reserve allows us to be more control and provides more options in difficult circumstances. You can be better prepared to handle some of life’s challenging circumstances in the future by taking steps now to start or increase your emergency savings fund.

  • An emergency fund is money that you set aside in a readily accessible account
    and it’s specifically for unexpected events. It is an essential part of your financial plan. How much money will you need to put away? This will depend on your unique circumstances, but striving for at least six month’s worth of basic living expenses is a common goal. An individual who is self-employed or has an irregular income may want to set aside more over time.
  • Emergency funds need to cover basic living expenses
    That typically includes such things as a rent or mortgage payment, utilities,

Are your finances ready for an emergency?

food, car payments, gasoline and oil, insurance, child or elder care and other debt payments.

  • Your emergency fund should cover six month’s of basic expenses
    But if that goal seems overwhelming, it may be helpful to focus first on securing one month’s worth of basic expenses, and as that amount is reached, go on to work towards a second month’s worth and so forth. Some people may find putting a tax refund towards an emergency fund as a good way to increase an emergency fund. Setting up automatic deposits is another way to make this process easy.
  • What is an emergency when it comes to your personal finances?
    Merriam-Webster defines an emergency as:

    • An unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action and
    • An urgent need for assistance or relief.

This means that a great deal on a high-definition television or bargain price for a vacation by cruise ship are not likely to qualify in most situations. However, it is appropriate to use these funds when faced with circumstances such as paying a deductible to repair a roof damaged by a tree in a storm. Keep in mind that an emergency situation is really more about necessities rather than wants.

Additional accounts for other family goals can be set up once the emergency fund is fully established.

Where should you keep your emergency fund?

  • Keep in mind that you may need to access this money quickly so it needs held in an account which can be easily converted to cash. Another important consideration is safety. The purpose of an emergency fund is to be more like insurance rather that an investment where you may choose to take some risk to achieve a higher return. It is also a good idea to confirm that such funds are federally insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). As it is important that these funds be available when needed, these monies need to be in accounts with little or no risk of loss.
    • Starting or increasing an emergency fund provides you with a cash cushion…
      and that can help make your financial future more secure.

 

Connecticut Saves Campaign Promoting Family Saving is Launched

America Saves logoOnly 39% of Connecticut residents reported spending less than they earned in 2012. Fifty percent did not have emergency funds and 57% haven’t set aside money for their children’s college education according to the 2012 National Financial Capability Study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. UConn Extension is launching the Connecticut Saves Campaign as a new effort to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households in Connecticut to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. Connecticut Saves is part of America Saves, a national campaign led by the Consumer Federation of America. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior.

 

Connecticut Saves Week takes place Monday, February 24 through Saturday, March 1, 2014. UConn Extension is encouraging Connecticut citizens to assess their saving and save regularly for their goals during this special week. Connecticut Saves has planned a variety of events and workshops in celebration. Governor Dannel P. Malloy has issued a proclamation in honor of Connecticut Saves Week. The Connecticut Saves Campaign is coordinated by UConn Extension with the support of these partners: Connecticut Department of Banking; Connecticut Department of Labor; Connecticut State Library; Connecticut Treasurer’s Office; FDIC; Hartford Job Corps; Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc.; Naugatuck Head Start; New Haven County Extension Resource Council, Inc.; New Haven Free Public Library; and People’s United Bank. Please see the Connecticut Saves website at: www.connecticutsaves.org. The Bank of America Foundation is supporting the Connecticut Saves Week Campaign through a mini-grant. For more information about the Connecticut Saves Campaign, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith of UConn Extension at faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu or call 203.407.3160.

America Saves Week 2014

America Saves Week 2013 Campaign Led by UConn Extension

America Saves logoAmerica Saves Week (ASW) is an opportunity individuals and families to assess and improve their own savings status as well as a special time for organizations to promote good savings behavior. Nationally, it is coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, thousands of organizations participate in the Week, reaching millions of people across the nation encouraging individuals and families to save money and build personal wealth.

Held February 25th through March 2nd of this year, the week included a Financial Education Expo sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Banking at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford; saving workshops for Hartford Job Corps students and HRA of New Britain program participants, and discussions with Naugatuck Head Start parents about savings goals. Dream boxes were decorated by participants with pictures representing their different savings goals. There was a drawing for personal finance books targeted to older teens and young adults. Participants had the opportunity to make a pledge to save money regularly for specific goals such as further education, an emergency fund, a car or a down payment on a home. Those making a pledge also were entered in drawings for grocery store gift cards. A mini-grant to support this project was provided by Bank of America. People’s Bank and Bank of America donated coloring books, financial information and other materials.

America Saves1 America Saves2 America Saves3

UConn Extension launched its first campaign this year with the support of these partnering organizations: Connecticut Department of Banking; Connecticut Department of Labor; Hartford Job Corps; HRA of New Britain, Inc.; Naugatuck Head Start; New Haven County Extension Resource Council, Inc.; New Haven Free Public Library; People’s Bank and Bank of America Foundation.

Plans are being developed now for America Saves Week 2014 which will take place February 24th through March 1st.  Employers, financial institutions, businesses, colleges and schools, community and faith-based organizations and others are invited to learn more about how they can participate by contacting UConn Extension at 203.407.3160 or faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu .

America Saves4

Gift-Giving Simplified and Easy on the Wallet

As the holidays approach, are you concerned about keeping spending on gift giving in line with your other financial responsibilities? As this is a time when many people may be facing the same concern, it’s a good time to rethink your holiday gift purchasing habits. Here are ten ideas for gift giving that celebrates the season and is also easy on the wallet.

1.  Food – Consumable items are very popular at the holidays. The recipients may enjoy the product themselves or share it with others when entertaining. Consider special breads, beverages, regional favorites and gourmet coffees and teas.

IndoorPlantPic2.  Go green. Find locally grown plants, flowers and dried wreaths. Another option might be to purchase colorful washable napkins, placemats, dishcloths, reusable bags and lunch bags with individual containers for sandwiches and snacks.

3.  Set limits. This could be a dollar amount per gift, completing your shopping in only one or two trips, shopping for gifts locally, purchasing one gift per family, limiting your purchasing to sources in your own community.

4. Made by you. Share by making your own food specialty, handcrafting an item, providing a framed photo or holiday ornament.

5. Hobby-related gift or gift certificates – Consider the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Are there gardeners, chefs, woodworkers, knitters, readers and gamers on your list? Gift accordingly by providing them with the tools or materials to do what they enjoy.

6. Agree on a gift challenge. Discuss this idea well in advance of the holidays with those whom you regularly exchange gifts, but make it fun. You might suggest handmade items only, gifts under $5, one gift for a whole family, consignment or thrift store finds only or pick a theme such as useful or consumable items only.

7. Purchase the same type of gift for everyone—it could be a nice pen, a journal, stationery and stamps, board games, puzzles, books or flashlights and batteries.

8. Recipe Book – You could make up a recipe book with family favorites or provide a blank recipe book for the great cooks in your life.

9. Coupons for your services – Offer your time and abilities. You can create coupons related to your skills. Perhaps it is cooking a favorite meal, snow shoveling, home repair or an oil change, mending, guitar lessons and so on.

10. Create a special memory. Look in newspapers or online for special events this holiday that are free or low cost. Instead of purchasing gifts, make a date with your family and friends to enjoy an event together and get together for desserts and coffee.

Enjoy your holidays!