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Yes you can-Family meals

October 2, 2015

Here’s an idea…
According to an article from the Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “[Families] who have frequent family meals often see the following benefits with their children and youth: enhanced vocabulary, academic success, healthy food selections, demonstration of positive values, and avoidance of high-risk behaviors (substance abuse, sexual activity, depression/suicide, violence, school problems, binge eating/purging, and excessive weight loss.”

In other words…
Make time for family meals for healthy parents and kids. Even with the early mornings and after school activities plus work and home responsibilities there’s the daunting question, “what’s for supper?”  Sure, it’s easy to hit up the nearest drive through, but that’s not always the healthiest option, and certainly not the easiest on the wallet!  With some planning and family engagement family dinners can become a reality. Preparing meals at home is possible and it’s the best way to know you and your family is eating healthy, wholesome meals.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…
Stock up at the grocery store on partially prepared items, like chopped chicken or mixed salads to save time.  Make sure to stock your pantry with dried or canned beans and canned fish or chicken for a quick and easy protein option to add to your meals.  Cook when you have time, for example on the weekends,  or in the evening after the kids have gone to bed and double (or triple, depending on your family size) recipes to save yourself time during the week, and make easy, grab and reheat meals at home.  Also get everyone involved! Peelings, mixing and clean-up are great activities for kids and let them pick a meal or two to encourage participation.

To find out more….
about ways you can save money, and make quick healthy meals at home, visit and .  For easy, healthy recipes, visit

Beware of Payday Lending Scams in Arkansas

September 30, 2015

Here’s a great idea

Although high-interest loans are illegal in Arkansas, payday lenders and payday collection scams still target Arkansas consumers.

In other words

What is a payday loan? Payday loans are short-term loans for small amounts, usually less than $500.  They are typically due on your next payday; so, they are sometimes called “cash advance” or “check loans”.  The fees often amount to an interest rate of 400% APR or greater.  Charges continue to mount if the borrower is not able to repay the loan on the due date. The loan rolls over with increasing fees, interest, and debt. The last payday lender left Arkansas in 2009.  Loans at interest rates of 17% APR (annual percentage rate) or higher are illegal in Arkansas.

How this applies to you

Do you have an illegal loan? Storefront payday lenders have been shut down but many still try to entice Arkansas consumers via the phone or internet.  These loans are illegal and unenforceable under Arkansas law.  Contact the Office of the Attorney General to request that the lender cancel the loan.

Are bill collectors claiming that you have a payday loan? Recent consumer complaints report a payday collection scam where callers insist that the consumer is overdue on a payday loan.  The callers often harass their victims and may threaten legal action.  Callers may have personal, financial information about the intended victim.  Never provide additional information in response to these types of calls.  Contact the Office of the Attorney General to file a complaint. Monitor your bank and credit card accounts for suspicious activity.  Set a fraud alert with the credit reporting bureaus to further monitor for fraudulent activity.

To find out more

Contact the office of the Attorney General if you have been a victim of payday lending or of a collection scam.  Call 1-800-482-8982 or visit

For research-based information about financial stability and consumer protection, visit the website of the Cooperative Extension Service at

Breaking free of negativity

September 28, 2015

A Great Idea…
“What exactly were these stable couples doing with each other to maintain a positive balance for their negative emotions? For one thing…they were far less negative than the couples who eventually split up. When they brought up disagreements, they were less extreme in expressing feelings like anger or frustration. They complained and got angry, to be sure, but they were less critical of their spouse, less defensive, less contemptuous, and they were engaged—not disapproving—listeners.” (Marriage researcher, John Gottman, in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, p. 58)

In Other Words…
When conflict comes in a relationship—as it inevitably does—the couples that survive are those who remember the positives and manage their anger.

We often assume that if we have as many positives as negatives in our marriages, we’re in good shape. That’s not true. When there are as many negatives as positives, the relationship is in serious trouble. For a relationship to be stable, it needs lots and lots of positives—in fact five positives for every negative. Relationships thrive in positivity. 

How This Applies to You…
Your mind has great power. You can dwell on the problems and disappointments in your relationship. You can talk endlessly about the negative. Or you can set your mind to be grateful. You can choose to notice and appreciate the good times in your relationship. Instead of making a sarcastic remark, try to remember your partner’s good qualities. Instead of making a smart-aleck comment, try to understand your partner’s point of view. This small effort is likely to be rewarded with greater love and closeness. 

To Find Out More…
For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at

For an excellent books focused on marriage, read Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

5 Tips for Reducing College Costs

September 25, 2015

Here’s a great idea

Nine in ten parents believe that college is a worthwhile investment. While this statistic from Sallie Mae’s How America Saves for College 2015 report shows that the value placed on higher education is nearly universal, a staggering 84% of parents are also willing to stretch themselves financially in order to make college possible for their children.

In other words

The increasing costs of higher education are a part of our current reality, but breaking the bank doesn’t have to be. Making smart financial decisions from the start, and turning good savings behaviors into long-lasting habits can be the ticket to a fruitful and (hopefully) debt free future – for students and parents alike.

How this applies to you

5 Tips for Reducing College Costs

  1. Start Saving as Soon as Possible –putting away small amounts of savings will build up over time
  2. Do Your Research –Find out what credentials are required in your child’s chosen field major’s industry down the road and consider the options are for getting the most bang for your buck.
  3. Save on Room & Board – Sometimes there really is no place like home. It can save thousands of dollars.
  4. Working While In School – Working part-time can help pay for anything from tuition to books, transportation to school supplies. Every little bit helps.
  5. Know the Fine Print – Be mindful of any debt that you or your student takes on. Scrutinize repayment terms.

To find out more

Learn more about saving for college and pledge to save at

Find the latest research-based information for successful money management at

Finding physical activity that works for you

September 23, 2015

Here’s a great idea…
The office of Disease Prevention and Promotion provides evidence based guidelines for physical activity for Americans 6 and older to improve their health. Specifically they provide guidance on the types and amounts of physical activity that provide substantial health benefits. Research demonstrates that for most health outcomes benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency and/or longer duration.
In other words…
No matter your age and health status regular physical activity produces long-term health benefits. The good news is you can pick and choose the types of physical activity that work best for you, your lifestyle and your ability.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…
Avoid inactivity as some physical activity is better than none and ten minutes at a time counts! Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week which is equal to just 21 minutes a day. For even more benefit aim for 300 minutes per week.  Muscle-strengthening 2 or more times a week is also encouraged but is not included in the 150 minute weekly total. An example of a moderately intense activity is brisk walking and a vigorous activity would be jogging. You can also think of it as your perceived effort on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is sitting or resting and 10 is maximal effort say if you were to sprint up stairs.  Here moderate activity you would rate as a 5 or 6 and vigorous would be a 7 or 8 on the scale.  Other examples of moderate and vigorous activity include mowing the lawn, weeding, cleaning the house, playing with children, taking the stairs, and lifting boxes.

To find out more…
about easy and fun exercise tips that you can complete throughout the day click here: or for more on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:

Know before you owe-new mortgage rules

September 21, 2015

Here’s a great idea
When it comes to home buying. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants couples to know before they owe.  Mortgages are complex transactions that may include risky features.  The Know Before You Owe rule went into effect August 1, 2015.  This new rule will simplify and improve disclosure forms for mortgage transactions.

In other words
Consumers currently receive different, but overlapping federal disclosure forms with the terms and costs of mortgage loans. Because these forms are confusing for many people, Congress directed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to create new forms. The new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms are designed to be easier to use and understand.  Beginning August 1, lenders will be required to give consumers three days to review the forms before signing anything.

How this applies to you
If you and your partner are buying a home, here’s how you can benefit from Know Before You Owe:

  • Clear language will help consumers understand complicated mortgage loan and real estate transactions.
  • Critical information such as the interest rate, monthly payments, and the total closing costs will be highlighted on the first page. This will make it easier to compare costs.
  • Information about the costs of taxes and insurance and how the interest rate and payments may change in the future will be provided.
  • Warnings about features you may want to avoid, like penalties for paying off the loan early or increases to the mortgage loan balance even if payments are made on time.
  • Reliable cost estimates for services required to close a mortgage loan, for example, appraisal or pest inspection fees.
  • The Closing Disclosure must be received at least three business days before closing. This additional time will allow you to compare the final terms and ask questions before you arrive at the closing table.

To find out more
Learn more about Know Before You Owe at

How can I help my child make good decisions?

June 19, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, Laurence Steinberg, “Children enjoy making choices because it helps them feel grown up. One way to make sure your child makes the right decisions is by limiting her alternatives to ones you approve.”

In other words…

Guiding children should not merely be about keeping them out of trouble. We should guide in a way that helps our children develop their own decision-making powers.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Look for opportunities to let your child make choices between options you approve. For example, you may give them the option of having milk or juice with breakfast, or the option of which book they want to read at bedtime. The more often you allow your child to make choices the better they will learn to become good decision makers.

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. For more in depth reading on parenting, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinberg.


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