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4-H Livestock Projects Teach Financial Literacy

Green and white are the colors of 4-H but what else can you think of that is green and white?  Money! So, how does 4-H livestock projects teach financial management for the youth who participate in these programs?  I am so glad you ask.  We will take a journey into the 4-H Livestock world where I will show you the $$$ and how youth learn financial management.

There are several ways for 4-H Livestock youth to earn money with their projects:

  1. One of the most common ways is through livestock market and showmanship events.  Youth can earn money base on how the animal is judges as well as how well the displayed/showed their animals.
  2. Another common way is through participating in terminal shows in which the animal is sold during the event.
  3. Youth can breed their animals and sell their offspring, or they can sell products their animal produces such as wool or eggs.
  4. Youth can also earn premium money by submitting their project record books to be judged and by participating in livestock judging events.

Now that I have tackled how 4-H Livestock youth can earn money through their projects let look at money management. The 4-H Livestock project record books have sections to record expenditures as well as income. Youth learn if the project was profitable or not.  As youth review expenditures, they have an opportunity to make decision such as if blank high-end feed is really worth the money or does a less expensive feed provides the same benefits. As most youth mature, their understanding of managing money in relationship to their project improves.  They can carry that knowledge gained from their livestock project over to other areas of their lives.   Project record book workshops assist youth in completing their project record book especially the financial portion.  At times, these workshops have been eye openers for parents.

Many of my 4-H youth shared in their project stories how they were required to invest back into their project by purchasing their show animal for the next year. I have also read how many of my 4-H youth, set higher goals for the profits from their projects such as buying a car or saving for college. Here is a great example of how one 4-Her used her livestock project to save enough money to purchase a house!

Now that I have shown the money in 4-H Livestock project, you may be interested in learning more about the animal science projects offered through Florida 4-H.  If you are interested in helping youth learn how to manage their money through their livestock project, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  We offer a wide variety of volunteer roles to fit your interests, skills and schedule.  Learn more at or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.

For more information about 4-H livestock projects, visit these links:

Managing the Holidays without Breaking the Bank

As the holiday season quickly approaches many people become overwhelmed with all of the activities, decorating, and shopping that needs to be completed. Here are a few tips to save energy, time and your nerves.  Let’s begin with Five Steps to Seasonal Savings:

  1. Recognize Your Seasonal Stressors- Know your personal stressors—such as family, friends, work, travel, social outings and traditions (both old and new)—then you can be less stressed this holiday season. Marketing ploys sneak into every stressor, and retailers want to ensure they get their piece of the holiday pie by using marketing gimmicks to lure you into shopping with them. Do you find yourself with the overwhelming desire to get everything on your child’s list? If so, consider going without a list or setting limits, and communicate with your child. Often, parents do not involve their children in the holiday spending process. Children need help recognizing when and how they have been targeted and persuaded to want the latest and greatest item.  Children also need to understand that a budget is necessary and saying “no” to an overpriced item is okay.
  2. Develop a Holiday Spending Plan—Make a Budget.  Ask yourself: How much have I saved?  How much can I save before the holidays?  Am I comfortable creating debt?  Am I comfortable saying “no”?Start with knowing how much you can spend and create a spending plan, which is critical for successful money management for the holidays and all year long. A few dollars from your paycheck each week adds up quickly over a year. You can also take advantage of weekly automatic transfers into your bank account, or join a holiday savings club at a local credit union. If your holiday budget shows you are spending more money than you have, then you’ll likely take on debt. If this is the case, you should also create a plan for paying off purchases made with credit. Prioritize your purchases and consider omitting purchases that require taking on debt.
  3. Create a List and Stick to It- Make sure you have a list of everyone you plan to buy for during the holidays and of other additional expenses. Decorations, cards, postage, gift wrap, food/entertainment, and travel are additional costs that can drastically impact the holiday budget. Don’t forget to use catalogs, internet surfing for comparison shopping, and barcode scanning apps. Shopping online also limits impulse purchases, and it allows you to avoid long lines, huge crowds, and the lure to eat out while shopping. Be sure to use coupons whenever possible, and be sure to take advantage of the year-end sales. Once you’ve researched and set your budget, you’re ready to start shopping.
  4. Consider Alternatives to Pricey Presents- If you have a large family, start by thinking outside the box. Consider a gift exchange by drawing names from a hat, which can allow you to put more thought than money into selecting a single gift. You can also buy a single gift for an entire family—perhaps an entertainment basket filled with DVDs and microwave popcorn. Oftentimes, thoughtful and more creative gifts can come from shopping with local businesses. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, honey, or an item from a local artist are just a few suggestions of local products. If you are feeling crafty, then you could make and give holiday arrangements such as centerpieces and decorations. Another idea for the holidays is to donate to a charity in someone’s name instead of gift giving. You can even take the idea of giving to charity to your office. Pool money you would have spent on gifts with your participating colleagues, draw a colleague’s name, and donate the money to a charity of his or her choice. Another gift idea for close friends and/or family is the “gift of time.” Create a coupon book or certificate that gives a loved one the gift of your time (a specific chore, a trip to the park, babysitting, slumber party for the kids).
  5. Fine-Tuning Your Financials- Use cash and/or debit cards when at all possible. Money coming directly out of your pocket will likely make you think harder about your purchase. If you are going to use a credit card, make sure you have a plan in place to pay it off when the bill is due. You also need to understand the allure of paying with credit. When you’re not paying with “real” money, your buying can easily get out of control, and the shopping process may not seem as painful in that moment. It may be appropriate to tell your older children how much they each have in the budget for holiday spending. When the family is on the same page, it can alleviate some stress. Refocus your family’s thoughts from the material goods to the real meaning of giving and receiving. Knowing your specific situation, making informed decisions, and communicating with loved ones can reduce the effects of holiday stressors.

Here are a few affordable DIY gifts that will be truly appreciated by the recipient.

terrariumFor the gardener in your life: Terrarium Kit


  • One – 3 1/2″ x 7″ canning jar with top
  • Small stones (enough to fill 1 inch in jar) You can buy pretty river rocks at your local garden shop or just collect some stones outside.
  • A few tablespoons of activated charcoal (found at any pet store’s aquarium section)
  • 1 small Ziploc bag
  • 3 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ printed terrarium instructions card on card stock (download from or create your own)

Step 1: Put about an inch of small stones in the bottom of a jar.

Step 2: Slide an instruction card into the front of the jar.  Secure the card amongst the rocks.

Step 3: Pour a few tablespoons of activated charcoal into a small Ziploc bag and add it to the jar.

Step 4: If you’re feeling crafty you could add a decoration or two (plastic or clay mini mushrooms, insects, gnomes, fairies, etc.) in your terrarium kit.

Step 5: Tie some twine or ribbon around the jar, and you’re done. You don’t even need to wrap it!

bathFor someone you would like to pamper: Basic Silk Bath Bomb


  • 1 cup Citric Acid (found in canning section of grocery store)
  • 3 cups Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Essential Oil (purchase at local health food store)
  • Witch Hazel Spritz (purchase in pharmacy section)
  • Dry Pigment Colorant – if using
  • Round mold to shape the bath bomb (Molds are round plastic ornaments found at your local craft store.)


  1. Blend the citric acid and baking soda—add colorant and fragrance oil.
  2. Spritz, Witch Hazel onto your batch using a squirt bottle with one hand while stirring with the other until the bomb sticks together when squished. (it will have the consistency of wet sand)
  3. Form the bomb in the molds.
  4. Air-dry for 3 or 4 hours spritzing a few times – allow to set overnight (The Witch Hazel forms a crust on the outside that prevents them from cracking and falling apart; however, they’re still fragile)
  5. Wrap in tissue paper or cellophane. Tie a bow and you’re done.

Other DIY ideas…homemade soaps, herb infused oils, jams and jellies, baked goods and hot cocoa mix.  More ideas can be found in last year’s post, Making the Holidays More Affordable.

When we think of the holidays, we often think about family, togetherness, giving, and celebrating. While the holiday season should be a time of enjoyment, there are many events associated with the season that can cause stress. Remember in the long run the memories will be of time spent together, not the gifts they received. So, be sure to plan ahead, take a deep breath and enjoy the special holiday moments.

If you have further questions, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.  Many offices offer seasonal programs to help both youth and adults prepare for the holiday season.


Five Steps to Seasonal Savings” – UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #FCS5267

“Managing Stress During the Holidays” – UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #FCS5266






Making the Holidays Affordable

Save money and make fun memories this year by making your own gifts!

Save money and make fun memories this year by making your own gifts!

This Christmas, save money and enjoy the season by hand-making gifts for your children’s teachers, friends, and your co-workers. We have all received the “awesome” gift of a plaid tie or vanilla candle which is appreciated, but lacks a personal touch. Why not use this opportunity to make a little mess in the kitchen as well as some holiday memories with your kids? You could even do this as an activity for your 4-H Club’s Holiday Party.  In years past, our family has made many gifts for those who we would like to receive a little something. In our family alone, we have six teachers and between my husband and I there are 27 co-workers to purchase for, we can’t afford to go out and buy everyone a $10-$15 gift. Which would mean spending nearly $500 for those small gifts!

The question is, what can you make? Fresh-baked goods are a wonderful option, but can’t be baked too far in advance without freezing. There are many other options, such as candy, jams, and even pickled garlic! Cookies, brownies, or soup in-a-jar gifts are also fun options (especially for single parents or working moms). One year, our family made hot chocolate mix for everyone. Jelly jars filled with powdered milk, cocoa, and marshmallows were a great, well-received gift and only cost $1.75 each! This was much more economical ($58 compared to $495). We decorated our jars with a little bit of material and tied a nice bow. You could even combine your ingredients in a zipper bag and place in a mug for the gift or use a funnel to pour it into a plain glass or plastic tree ornament. Your imagination is the limit, and your relationships with your children will benefit just as much as your pocketbook!

4-H teaches youth to shop responsibly with our Consumer Decision curriculum and Consumer Choices events. Youth can also use 4-H’s My Financial Future Curriculum, youth will learn budgeting, how to balance a bank account, how to deal with emergency expenses and how to make educated shopping choices.  If you have a passion or crafting or money management, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer! WE offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities to fit your interests, skills, and schedule. For more information about 4-H, or to sign up for My Financial Future, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit


Simple Steps to Seasonal Savings

bagrygbFor many people, their holiday shopping begins on Black Friday. Cyber Monday, which falls after the Thanksgiving weekend is a great way to order gifts online- especially if you do not like crowds. Many retailers will lure shoppers in on Cyber Monday with free shipping deals. UF IFAS Extension offers some great tips for keeping your personal information secure when shopping online, as well as advantages and disadvantages of using prepaid cards. Between Brown Thursday (businesses that are open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day), Black Friday and Cyber Monday, here are a few tips to help cope with the phenomenon after-Thanksgiving shopping has become.

  1. Plan ahead—many retailers will have their ads out for the season well before Thanksgiving to allow for consumers to plan ahead and see who is offering which item at the best price. Planning ahead will help you have a fun experience.
  2. Set a budget—this is a vital step to any shopping! You have to decide how much total you plan to spend or you will have to eat bread and water all December and January! Seriously, set a budget and stick to it. Make your list and remember, if you said $20 each person, you really mean $20 limit for each person. There is some wiggle room with this if you find a great gift for one person on sale, the extra $5 or $10 could go to someone else’s gift.
  3. Check the ads—know what retail cost is before you fall into a trap. Retailers may taught a great television at only $150, however, what is the regular retail for that brand? Is it really a $175 television? The internet can be your friend with consumer reviews and the information is already out for the ads. Check out for the deals and do some research ahead of time.
  4. Form a team—this sounds strange, I know. I have a group of friends that are a Black Friday Team. We get together and look at the ads. If I am interested in bed sheets that are on sale at one retailer and my friends wants some tools at a completely different retailer, we will divide and conquer. I will go to the tool store and she can pick up my sheets. We are able to both get what we want and essentially be in two places at once!

Holiday shopping can be leisurely and enjoyable. That is not shopping that is done on Black Friday. The shopping that is done on Black Friday is more like a sport. It’s fast-paced, very exciting and can also be rewarding. Follow the tips above and have fun shopping, oh yeah, and drink some coffee. It’s hard to get up at 3:00 in the morning and face the crowds without some coffee!

For more information on smart strategies for seasonal savings, read this factsheet. If you have a passion for smart shopping, consider coaching a 4-H Consumer Choices Team. This 4-H event helps prepare youth to make smart and informed shopping decisions. For more information about this and other 4-H money management programs, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http:/

Smart Strategies for Back to School Savings

Back to school shopping can be a teachable moment for your kids about money management

Back to school shopping can be a teachable moment for your kids about money management

In many parts of Florida, school starts in less than a week! Depending on where you live, what school your children attend, and what grade they are in, back to school supplies can cost the average family anywhere from $100 to $500! Keeping this in mind, it is time to start thinking about a strategy for your back to school shopping. The good news is, the back-to-school tax holiday has been extended from three days to ten days this year!

The tax holiday will begin August 7 and run through August 16. Tax-free items include; clothing, footwear, wallets, bags that cost $100 or less, school supplies that cost $15 or less, and the first $750 of the cost of personal computers and related accessories. Now that you know when and what to shop for, here are some tips on how to shop to make the most of every dollar:

Have a plan

  • Get the supply list for your child’s school and make notes.
  • If you have more than one child, compile a combined list. If your son needs 6 folders and your daughter needs 6 folders, on your list, simply write “12 folders”. This will cut down on the time spent on shopping.

Have a budget

  • Make a list of what your children will need and get an idea of how much it will cost.
  • Use back to school shopping as an opportunity to help your child learn about prioritizing and budgeting. Tell your child how much they have to spend for specific items. For example, they can spend $20 for a backpack, $50 for shoes and $200 for new clothes. If they want the $90 pair of shoes, they will need to get a less expensive backpack or spend less on clothes. This will help you stay within your budget and aid in teaching your children some financial skills. It is a win-win!

Shop around

  • Many stores are having sales right now. If you approach back-to-school shopping like you might do “Black Friday” shopping, you can have a lot of fun with it!
  • Check ads in the Sunday paper for sales on items on your list. Many papers will also have coupons for wipes, paper towels, and other items often found on preschool or elementary school lists. You can also use online coupons, e-coupons, and store loyalty cards for even more savings.
  • Check out stores you may not have considered in the past such as office supply stores, dollar stores, and even thrift stores.

Plan for next semester

  • Now is the time to get all of the supplies you need at a great price. If you find a good deal on some basics, stock up for next semester on items like glue sticks, pens, folders, and notebook paper.

Going back to school can be an expensive time of year; however, it doesn’t have to be with a little planning and budgeting. Put the same energy into back to school shopping that you might do with Christmas shopping. Make it a sport! Remember for next year, at the end of the summer, school is approaching and you can plan for it.  If you are interested in financial management, budgeting, or shopping, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer!  We need volunteers to share their knowledge and skills with youth to teach youth about financial literacy and consumer choices (smart shopping).  If you are interested, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit