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    Keeping Your Financial Records Secure

    When a family emergency or disaster occurs, having quick access to important financial documents is essential. These documents include banking information, insurance cards and policies, wills and power of attorney documents, household inventory, and birth and marriage records. This article will address what are the important financial records, where to keep financial records secure, how long to keep records, and how to create a Grab and Go box.

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    Planning for Holiday Expenses on a Tight Budget

    The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends sharing good food and gifts. Unfortunately, this time of sharing can create stress for individuals and families who are living on a tight budget. The extra gifts, food, and travel expenses can make a budget that is already stretched, snap. Planning ahead and making decisions about spending will help the holidays be more enjoyable.

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    Water Conservation and Efficiency During Times of Drought

    As drought conditions continue to expand across the state this year, more thought is given towards South Dakota’s limited water resources. We live in a state where weather conditions and rain patterns seem to comfortably exist at the extremes; we either have way too much or nearly not enough. While this isn’t always the case, it is important to keep in mind that our water resources are finite and all of us should be thinking about doing what we can to protect them.

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    As South Dakota's farmers, ranchers and communities deal with the challenges brought on by drought conditions impacting more than half the state, SDSU Extension is connecting individuals with resources and research-based information.

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    File Your Income Tax for Free

    Did you know that if your annual salary is $60,000 or less you qualify to use Free File software? Seventy percent of Americans can do their taxes for free using brand-name software. The National Association of Tax Professionals found that in 2014 the average tax preparation fee was $159 to file a 1040 with a standard deduction and $273 for itemized deductions. Wouldn’t you like to keep a little more of your money?

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    What Could Medicaid Expansion Mean to Some Families in South Dakota

    The topic of Medicaid Expansion has been in the news a lot again lately. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted, the State of South Dakota decided not to expand the Medicaid program. The SD Legislature is looking at the possibility of now expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Politics and state economics aside, let’s take a look at how this could impact some low-income people.

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    Save $50 of Your Tax Refund and You Could Win $25,000

    As the end of the year approaches, we once again find ourselves dreading the paper pushing and number crunching of tax season. But, let’s not forget the excitement that comes with getting back some of your own hard-earned money in the form of a tax refund. Saving a portion of your tax refund can be a big step toward meeting your savings goals, so it’s no surprise that a 2015 tax season survey found that a majority of those who receive a refund planned to save it.

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    2016 Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment

    On Sunday, November 1st, you can enroll in a Qualified Health Plan in the Marketplace during the Open Enrollment Period. The enrollment will go until January 31, 2016. These dates are significantly different from the previous open enrollment. Remember, if you have an employer-sponsored health plan and it is “affordable” (not greater than 9.5% of your household income), you are eligible to purchase a plan in the Marketplace, but not eligible for any premium tax credits.

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    Health Savings Account vs. Flexible Savings Account: Which is best for me?

    Having a health insurance plan does not mean that all medical expenses are covered. Health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible savings accounts (FSA) are designed to help consumers budget for deductibles, co-pays, prescription costs, plan out-of-pocket costs, and other unexpected medical expenses. In addition to helping a consumer manage planned and unexpected medical expense, both HSAs and FSAs lower an individual’s taxable income, which in turn reduces the amount of annual taxes paid to the IRS.

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    my Social Security Week 2016

    For more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with information, tools and resources to meet our customers’ changing needs and lifestyles. April 4 – 13, 2016 is National my Social Security Week. With the groups and organizations, Social Security will host numerous events and activities across the country to raise awareness about the benefits of opening a secure online my Social Security account.

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    Avoid Last Minute Overspending

    Christmas is a little over a week away. It’s time to pick up those last minute gifts. It’s also that time of year when you may catch yourself spending more than you intended. I will be the first to admit that I have a problem with impulse shopping. The holiday season brings out the worst in me. I love seeing people open gifts that I picked out for them. The surprise, the appreciation of finding the perfect gift, etc. give me a sense of happiness.

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    How Does a Student Loan Deferment or Forbearance Affect My Credit?

    I work with quite a few student loan borrowers who have gotten a little behind on their payments. After discussing options with them for a while, we typically will request either a deferment or forbearance from their loan servicer until they can start making regular payments again. Many people think that their credit will be negatively affected by having their student loans in deferment or forbearance status. Your credit score will not be affected at all.

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    For Extension Educators: Youth Financial Education Toolkit

    Financial education for today’s youth is an extremely important undertaking. There are concepts that need to be understood and practiced for adults to lead financially healthy lives. Learning these concepts while younger may help alleviate some bad financial decision making later in life. As youth educators, we have a unique opportunity to help teach basic and complex financial concepts to youth across the state.

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