Upcoming Events

Five Steps to Help Get You Saving this Year










Give your finances a checkup and discover if you need to make saving a priority this year. You may discover that you have debt you need to pay down or that you are ready to take the next step in savings. Helping yourself and your family save successfully for the future should be near the top of your priority list for 2018. Remember, you don’t have to make a lot of money to save successfully. Start Small. Think Big.

Alabama Extension Regional Agent Gloria Marks offers the following financial tips to help you save more this year.

Get Out of Debt

The best investment most borrowers can make is to pay off consumer debt with double-digit interest rates. How to do it: Find places to cut your spending so that you can pay down your debts faster.

Save for Emergencies

Having an emergency savings fund may be the most important difference between those who manage to stay afloat and those who are sinking financially. In a recent survey, only 49 percent of families said they had extra funds (not including lines of credit) available to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000. Don’t find yourself unprepared in 2018. How to do it: Save a portion of your tax refund.

Save for Retirement

Many employees turn down free money from their employer by not signing up for a work-related retirement program such as a 401(k) plan. If they did participate, with a dollar-for-dollar match they would likely receive an annual yield of greater than 100 percent on their investment. How to do it: Participate in a work-related retirement program or open up a Roth individual retirement account. Already saving? Increase the amount you save toward retirement by 1 percent in 2018.

Make Savings Automatic

It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it –make your savings automatic in 2018.

Buy a Home and Pay Off the Mortgage Before You Retire

The largest asset of most middle-income families is their home equity. Once these families have made their last mortgage payment, they have far lower housing expenses. How to do it: Almost anyone can afford to own a home with proper preparation. Develop a savings plan to build up money for a down payment at purchase, and with post-purchase emergency expenditures such as needed home repairs.

Savings Strategy: Save a Portion of Your Tax Refund

Tax time is a great time to kick-start or grow your savings for the future! Use the 30 – 40 – 30 plan. Designate 30 percent of your refund to pay off debt and catch up on outstanding bills. Earmark 40 percent for current use. Use 30 percent to jump-start an emergency fund or long term savings. You can use form 8888 to buy a U.S. Savings Bonds. Bonds are a safe and easy way to save for the future.

America Saves

America Saves is an initiative of the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America that encourages individuals and families to save money and build personal wealth.  For more information visit: www.americasaves.org or contact the Alabama Extension regional agent in Family Resource Management and Workforce Development serving your county.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Alabama Extension Offers Tax Bill Workshops for Farmers









Alabama farmers can learn more about how the new tax law affects them individually and their farming operation at tax bill workshops from Alabama Extension’s Agribusiness Management Team. After the training, famers will be better equipped to navigate the new tax provisions.

Dr. Robert Tufts, an Alabama Extension farm management specialist and attorney, will conduct the workshops at 13 locations during February and March from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Three exceptions include the Feb. 1 Fairhope workshop from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additionally, the March 1 workshop in Opelika will be from from 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., while the Shorter workshop lasts from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The workshop will highlight estate tax changes, individual tax changes and business tax changes in the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The workshop will also include a comparison of pass-through entity taxes to C-corporations taxes using case studies showing effects on small-, medium- and large-sized operations.


A complete workshop agenda and location schedule is available by visiting the following link: http://www.aces.edu/agriculture/business-management/taxes/.

There is a $15 registration fee per individual or $50 for any person requesting continuing education credit. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Continuing education credit will also be available for accountants, attorneys, foresters and professional logging managers.

To register online and pay via credit card, complete online registration here. Participants may also call the local contact to register by phone and pay at the door.

Tax Bill Workshop Locations

Feb. 1 — Baldwin County
1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center
8300 State Highway 104
Fairhope, Alabama
Contact : Ken Kelley
(251) 238-0373

Feb. 6 — Sumter County
ALFA Environmental Hall
University of West Alabama – Rodeo Drive
Livingston, Alabama
Contact: John Ollison
(205) 652-9501

Feb. 12 — Henry County
Wiregrass Research and Extension Center
167 AL Highway 134 East
Headland, Alabama
Contact: Jessica Kelton
(334) 693-3800 

Feb. 13 — Coffee County
5 County Complex
1055 East McKinnin Street
New Brockton, Alabama
Contact: Gavin Mauldin
(334) 894-5596 

Feb. 15 — Escambia County
Grace Fellowship Church
1412 East Nashville Avenue
Atmore, Alabama
Contact: Anthony Wiggins/Ken Kelley
(251) 867-7760

Feb 19 — Lauderdale County
Lauderdale County Extension Office
802 Veterans Drive
Florence, Alabama
Contact: Heidi Tilenius
(256) 766-6223

Feb. 20 — DeKalb County
Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center
13112 AL Highway 68
Crossville, Alabama
Contact: Robert Page
(256) 201-2465

Feb. 22 — Talladega County
Talladega County Extension Office
130 N. Court Street
Talladega, Alabama
Contact: Henry Borough
(256) 362-6187

Feb. 26 — Marion County
Marion County Extension Office
372 7th Avenue Southwest
Hamilton, Alabama
Contact: Lisa Murphy
(205) 921-3551

Feb. 27 — Dallas County
Black Belt Research and Extension Center
60 County Road 944
Marion Junction, Alabama
Contact: Jamie Yeager/Ken Kelley
(334) 872-7878

March 1 — Lee County
8:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
Lee County Extension Office
600 S. 7th Street, Suite 4
Opelika, Alabama
Contact: Tara Barr
(334) 749-3353

March 1 — Macon County
1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
E.V. Smith Research Center
4725 County Road 40
Shorter, Alabama
Contact: Jessica Kelton
(334) 693-3800

March 8 — Tuscaloosa County
Courthouse Annex
2513 7th Street
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Contact: Lisa Murphy
(205) 349-4630

More Information

For additional questions about the program email Robert Tufts (tuftsra@aces.edu) or call (334) 734-2120.


Image by photofriday/shutterstock.com.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Alabama Extension to Offer Financial Analysis Workshops Dec.– Feb.










Financial assistance supplied by banks and agricultural lenders is an integral part of daily farm operations, in addition to the development of new ag technologies and techniques.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is offering workshops throughout the state in December through February. These workshops will help farmers determine their financial health and learn how lenders analyze credit applications.

Financial Analysis Workshops

Ag lending is a key business line for many banks, especially those in rural areas. Lending in the agricultural market involves seasonal funding, generally repaid after harvest. If a renewal is hanging in the balance, Extension professionals want to help producers understand the importance of conducting a financial analysis.

Alabama Extension’s Farm and Agribusiness Management Team will conduct a series of workshops titled, “How Does a Lender Determine Whether to Renew My Line of Credit?” developed by Extension specialist Dr. Robert Tufts.

“The purpose of the program is to reinforce the importance of records so a farmer can determine his financial health, and to show the value of automated recordkeeping. It is hard to pull a balance sheet out of a box of receipts,” Tufts said.

Extension personnel will discuss financial statements and the ratios calculated from that data. The ratios are then used to measure the financial health of the farmer.

In addition, credit analysts from First South Farm Credit, Alabama Ag Credit, Alabama Farm Credit, and PNC Bank will speak at each program. These lenders will also discuss the inner workings of the agricultural credit approval process and answer questions.

Workshop Locations

Dec. 11                      Dallas County

Jan. 9                         Lauderdale County

Jan. 10                       Limestone County

Jan. 15                       Escambia County

Jan. 17                       Talladega County

Jan. 18                       DeKalb County

Jan. 23                       Henry County

Jan. 24                       Macon County

Jan. 30                       Chilton County

Feb. 1                         Baldwin County

Feb. 13                       Coffee County

Feb. 26                       Marion County

Feb. 27                       Tuscaloosa County


For a workshop agenda, location addresses or to register, visit the workshop website at www.aces.edu/lender.


Image by shutterstock.com/avilon.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!


Identity Theft–Getting Your Life Back










Identity theft is among the top three consumer complaints in the United States in 2017, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

It seems that in today’s society, many purchases begin with one of the following statements.

  • Swipe your credit card here.
  • Insert your credit card into the chip reader below.

What would people do without credit cards, debit cards and online payment resources?

Be careful in making transactions

How careful are we when making transactions? Having your identity stolen is easier than you might think, and the recovery process can be extensive.

“The Department of Justice reports the most common concern of identity theft is the misuse of credit cards,” said Dr. Theresa Jones, a certified financial education instructor and Alabama Extension regional agent in Family Resource Management & Workforce Development. “Credit card theft accounts for about half of the cases of identity theft.”

Jones gained expertise in identity theft through teaching strategies and tips to program participants for more than 10 years. She bases her lectures on the Federal Trade Commissions’ recommendations to help prevent individuals from becoming victims.

Steps to take if your identity is stolen

Jones suggests these steps to help you resolve the issue and regain control of your personal information if you are the victim of identity theft.

1. Close accounts that have been tampered with or opened without your consent immediately. In addition, change logins, passwords and PINS for all of your accounts.

2. Immediately place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports by calling any one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies.

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285,
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289.

3. Order and review your credit report carefully for any fraudulent activity that you have no knowledge of and are not your transactions.

4. Report that you are a victim of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov. Your report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity. It also guarantees you certain rights.

IdentityTheft.gov is a comprehensive, online resource. It provides extensive information on dealing with identity theft as well as checklists and sample letters.

5. File a local police report.

According to Jones, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more for someone to realize that their identity has been stolen. This heavily depends on how often you check your financial records.

To reduce the chances of your identity being stolen, always shred financial documents and credit card offers received in the mail before throwing them away.

To learn more about identity theft, contact your county Extension office.  Ask about the free Identity Theft Workshop provided by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Recycling: What it Means for the Environment and the Economy

Recycle Sign










Recycling is the process of converting waste products into reusable materials. This process allows products to be used to their fullest extent.

How Does the Recycling Process Work?

In Bibb and Chilton counties in Alabama, typical recyclable materials include cardboard boxes, office paper, newspapers, magazines, books, metal food cans, aluminum cans, #1 plastic containers (soft drink bottles) and #2 plastic containers (milk bottles, detergent bottles, etc.). These are all popular recyclable items. Newspapers account for the greatest quantity collected in the two counties based on weight.

There are three main steps in the Bibb-Chilton recycling process: collection and processing, manufacturing and purchasing products from recycled material. Matthew Hartzell, a Bibb County Extension coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, explains the process in his county.

“In Bibb and Chilton counties, there are 14 large blue bins located throughout those counties that citizens can deposit recyclable materials into,” said Hartzell. “Containers full of recyclable material are picked up by Bibb Correctional Facility officers and transported to that facility in Brent, where the recyclable materials are sorted and loaded by inmates onto a tractor trailer destined for Elmore Correctional Facility near Montgomery. There, the recyclable materials are baled and sold to private sector businesses who convert the recyclable materials into new materials.”

What Does this Mean for the Environment and Economy?

As for the environment, Hartzell says that recycling reduces the amount of waste going into landfills. Recycling is able to reduce the pollution caused by harmful chemicals and gases released from landfill waste. It also saves energy and conserves landfill space.

Recycling is also good for the economy. The more materials recycled, the more jobs created.

“Recycling has reduced the amounts of landfill tipping fees that local governments in Bibb and Chilton counties have paid to landfills since the program’s inception in 2013,” Hartzell said. “Sales from recycled materials collected also generate revenue for the Alabama Department of Corrections.”

On the other hand, recycling can also have negative effects. It can be labor and cost intensive. This is one of the main reasons why the private sector has not succeeded in the recycling business in the rural areas of Alabama.

“Educating people why they should recycle and getting them to do so can be difficult to accomplish,” Hartzell said. “Some people believe that when a waste collector empties a container and hauls their waste away, the waste is no longer their problem, so why bother?”

Recycling is easier than it may seem in any community. Make it a point to separate cardboard, cans and bottles, and then place them into recycling bins. Find out more on how to recycle here.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

The Way You Value Money Affects Your Savings











According to the Making Money Count curriculum, people look at money in many different ways.

Alabama Extension regional agents in Family Resource Development and Workforce Development use the Making Money Count curriculum to teach citizens throughout the state how to better manage their finances.

The curriculum, developed by the University of Missouri Cooperative Extension, shows that some individuals view money as a sense of security or a source of power. Others see money as a self-esteem builder, a sense of freedom or a way to buy the affection of others.

An individual who believes that money grants them a sense of security tends to view money as protection. They value money because it can shield them from the unknown. Within this profile lie savvy savers. Their character profile shows that they may stray from using credit cards or borrowing money because they do not like to owe money.

Another profile in the curriculum highlights individuals who view money as a means of gaining self-esteem. These individuals believe that success is dependent on how much money someone earns.. These people see a direct link between happiness and the things that their money can buy.

A third profile is the individual that sees money as a power source. Individuals that look at money this way may use it as a manipulation or control tactic over others. The curriculum suggests that these people might use money as a way to banish obstacles on their rise to power.

The freedom profile within the curriculum shows another outlook on money. These individuals see money as a key to their own independence. This meaning strongly resonates in most people. The curriculum suggests that many financial and relationship counselors advise everyone to have money of their own. This money should be used without explanation as a way for its owner to feel decision-making freedom.

The last profile outlined in the curriculum identifies an individual who looks at money as a way to buy love. People within this profile may sometimes use giving of money as an alternative to spending time with friends or family. They see money as a way of gaining affection. These people may also like to use their money to buy gifts for their loved ones as a way to make them happy.

These various outlooks on the meaning of money play a large role in the way people manage their monetary spending and saving habits.

Sharlean Briggs, an Alabama Extension regional agent, recognizes the various personality characteristics of a successful saver that are outlined in the curriculum as well.

“The Making Money Count curriculum points out that an individual who tends to save a large amount of money typically views money as a means of security and stability. They are usually the individuals with emergency savings to protect against any unforeseen expenses.”

The curriculum also shows that these people do not typically like to use credit cards or to borrow money from family or friends because they do not like to owe others or have outstanding balances. They also possess skills that aid them in making good decisions.

Making Money Count

Briggs said The Making Money Count program recognizes six steps to aid in making smart decisions.

  • Step one:  Identify the issue at hand and the decision that needs to be made regarding the issue.
  • Step two:  Generate alternatives. Look at both sides of the decision and see what options are available.
  • Step three:  Focus on gathering information to aid in the decision.
  • Step four: Weigh each alternative in regards to the decision.
  • Steps five and six: Commit to the decision made and evaluate the effectiveness of it.

No matter how someone values money, anyone can become a successful saver. Learn to make smart decisions regarding their financial futures. The best approach to become a successful saver is to identify what money means and develop a savings plan that suits both you and your families.  After doing so, anyone can learn to alter their spending and saving to successfully implement the plan into their lifestyle.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!


Agri-Tourism in Alabama

zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, rhubarb, beans in the foreground, people buying and selling under umbrellas in soft focus in the background

Agri-tourism can take many forms. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets offer farm-fresh produce and interaction with growers. Farms may open to the public for wildlife watching and hunting. Ag tours, on farm bed-and-breakfasts, and dude ranches give tourists the fresh air, open space, and relaxation of country life.

U-pick operations, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, hay mazes, farm-animal petting zoos, wine tasting, ag heritage museums, festivals, and fairs all attract visitors.

Find your Agri-Tourism destination today!