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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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    New Rule for FAFSA Filing for 2017-18 Academic Year

    Are you or your child planning to attend a post-secondary institution in the fall of 2017? A new rule from the Department of Education allows you to file your 2017-2018 Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as October 1, 2016. Parent or student income and tax information from the previous year, this year using 2015 information, will be reported on the application.

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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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    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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    Time to Start Thinking about Next Year’s Federal Financial Aid

    The Spring 2016 Spring Semester has just begun but it’s time to start thinking about financing your education for the next academic year. Whether you are a new student next fall or a returning student the first step to obtaining federal financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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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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    Goal Setting & Budgeting: Tools & Calculators

    Setting financial goals and creating a budget are tools to help you start making better financial decisions. Setting goals will show you where you want to go financially and creating a budget/spending plan will give you a map of how to get there. This page will give you some links to calculators and tools that may help you in setting your goals and creating your budget.

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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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    The Importance of Saving for College

    According to College Board, 2014-2015 tuition and fees for an in-state public 4-year college costs on average $9,139 per year. In addition to tuition, room and board will cost another $9,804 per year. These two expenses make up the majority of college costs but there are additional expenses (books/supplies, personal, and transportation expenses totaling approximately $4,388) added to these as well.

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    Challenge Yourself to Save as Much as You Spend on Holidays

    Consumers are getting savvier about saving during the holiday season. According to the Annual CFA-CUNA Holiday Spending Survey, 32 percent of us said we’d spend less in 2013 and 33 percent of us said the same in 2014. As that number increases, the ranks of those who said they would spend more has seen an equally notable decrease. But retailers are catching on to this trend.

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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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    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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    Retirement Saving Strategies

    Since people are living longer than ever, retirement savings need to last longer and work harder. It is more important than ever to make smart financial decisions. There are four standard sources of retirement income, Social Security, retirement plans and/or employer sponsored pensions, investment income, and earned income from part time employment.

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    Budgeting with an Irregular Income

    Using a budget is an essential skill in managing personal finances. If you are a business owner, farmer, rancher, earn based on sales commissions or are seasonally employed, you may not have consistent income from month to month. When your income is irregular, it may be difficult develop a budget that can be used to plan your spending for the month.

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    Education

    A child’s education is one of the largest expenses many families face. College tuition and fees are increasing at a faster rate than the general rate of inflation. The sooner you start, the less money you’ll have to save per year.  Because of the time value of money (interest compounding on interest over time), a little money saved early can actually exceed a lot of money saved later on.

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