Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30, with peak season in September and October. And hurricanes are not the only disasters we have to contend with. Living Well in the Panhandle provides the trusted Disaster Resources you need so you know what to do to keep your family and you living well.
Below are helpful resources for preparing for and handling the aftermath of a disaster. For more information, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.
Is My Food Safe to Eat?
Keeping Your Food Safe During Emergencies: Power Outages, Floods, and Fires
USDA – A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety-Severe Storms and Hurricanes Guide
Well Water Safety
Well Water Testing
Search for an open emergency shelter near you by texting SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362) Example: SHELTER 01234
Lightning storm. Photo Source: UF/IFAS
Cleaning Up After a Hurricane
Safety Comes First!
Get the Right Tree Care Professional
Hiring an Arborist – Spanish
Cleaning Mold After a Flood
Hurricanes and Mosquitoes
Mosquito Control Tips for Homeowners
Money Management/Consumer Issues
Avoiding Fraud and Deception
Six Steps in Making an Insurance Claim
Replacing Lost or Damaged Documents
FEMA – Individual Disaster Assistance
FEMA – Interim Housing Resources
USDA Farm Service Agency Disaster Assistance
Disaster Recovery Loans
Tax Relief After a Disaster
Complaints – If you have a complaint about disaster relief assistance, contact the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s Office at 1-800-323-8603.
Family Health and Wellness
Call the Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 for free counseling – 1-800-985-5990 (TTY) 1-800-846-8517
OR text TalkWithUs to 66746
Mental Health for Adults
Mental Health for Kids
Mental Health for Adolescents
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Practices to Minimize Flooding Damage to Commercial Vegetable Production
Florida Panhandle Agriculture
Florida Panhandle Agriculture Facebook
It’s still the dog days of summer so it’s hard to believe that the first day of school is right around the corner. Soon, the kids will be wrapping up the lazy days of summer and the fun of summer camps and family vacations to prepare for the back to school routine. Making school supply shopping a special event helps children get excited and ready for the new school year. Back to school costs can add up so be sure to have a plan.
Plan ahead for back to school savings. Photo Credit: Kendra Zamojski
- Create a list of back to school supplies and clothes. Check with your local school for a current list of required school supplies. Remember to include clothes, shoes, sports equipment, extracurricular activity supplies, and other school fees. Inventory items that you may already have from the last school year. Identify what items might be outgrown or need to be replaced and note what items are still usable.
- Determine a budget and stick to it. Involve children in creating a budget and making purchasing decisions to help them learn financial management skills. Shopping with children is great time to talk about needs versus wants and how to make buying decisions to stay within a budget. Children might be able to contribute some of their own earned money to buy school supplies or clothing.
- Take advantage of the Back to School Sales Tax Holiday. The State of Florida has declared August 2 – 6, 2019 as a Back to School Tax Holiday. Eligible items include: Clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item, certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item, and Personal computers and certain computer-related accessories selling for $1,000 or less per item, when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. For a complete list of eligible items visit the Back to School Tax Holiday site: https://revenuelaw.floridarevenue.com/LawLibraryDocuments/2019/06/TIP-122444_TIP_19A01-03_FINAL_RLL.pdf
- Many stores offer back to school sales and deals. Grab sales flyers and shop around for the best deals. Thrift stores and consignment shops are some other alternatives.
For more information, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/
For more information on back to school topics:
Visit places close to home for a vacation that won’t break the budget. (Photo source: UF/IFAS)
“Summer” and “vacation” seem to go hand-in-hand, as school is out and schedules are a little more laid back. Now that summer is here, you may be making plans for a getaway to your favorite spot. Perhaps, you are saving up for that dream trip next summer but you’d still like to take a break and have some fun this year. How can your family and you enjoy yourselves without breaking the bank? The answer might be right in your own backyard!
- Plan a staycation. Rather than traveling out of the area, use your home as base and plan some fun activities – family game time, camping out in the backyard and making s’mores, or running through the sprinklers and having a water balloon fight. Or just relax with a good book and a glass of lemonade or catch a few zzzs under a tree. The key is to turn off the devices, forget about work, and not worry about projects around the house – they will be there after you “return.”
- Plan day trips. These can be a part of your staycation, too. If you live fairly close to the beach, pack the car and head out early to enjoy the surf before temperatures rise. Make a day of it by enjoying the sunset before heading home. State parks also offer hiking and biking trails, boating and canoeing, swimming, playgrounds, picnic areas, and other fun activities. Florida boasts of 175 state parks, trails, and historic sites around the state so your next adventure may be just a short drive away. Check out https://www.floridastateparks.org/ for a park near you.
- Check out local events. Libraries and museums often feature special exhibits for free or a nominal charge. Several years ago, I visited a traveling exhibit about the Titanic at an arts center an easy drive from home. It made for an enjoyable and educational afternoon! Contact your local library or museum for a schedule of summer program offerings.
- Take part in a service project. A number of families are opting to use some of their vacation time to help others in need in their communities – projects include yard work, painting, basic home repairs, assisting with a food pantry/clothes closet, and serving meals to the homeless. These projects may be sponsored by a community service organization or church. During this past spring, local media outlets reported on several groups of college students representing campus ministries, fraternities, and other organizations who volunteered their Spring Break time to assist with Hurricane Michael clean-up and recovery. Participating in a service project as a family can be a meaningful way to give back to the community and make a difference locally. Contact your place of worship or local service organizations for opportunities in your area.
This summer, “recharge” without a super charge to your wallet!
I know I am not the only one fed up with the robocall madness. I no longer answer calls from numbers I do not recognize, and I block known scam numbers. These tactics don’t stop the incoming calls, though. I am often left with a voicemail box full of spam. Occasionally, I miss calls from people I know. More often, my voicemail is full of insurance, credit card, technology support, and IRS scams. The scammers are sophisticated, and some people have fallen victim to these fraud schemes. The best strategy is to hang up on these calls.
Check with your cell phone carrier for call filtering services. Photo Source: Kendra Zamojski
Here are some steps you can take to stop the madness:
- Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at https://www.donotcall.gov/. You can also report unwanted calls on this website. Adding your phone numbers to the Do Not Call list doesn’t stop some organizations from legally contacting you and, of course, unscrupulous callers don’t care about the Do Not Call list.
- Never give out your personal information over the phone. Never give your Social Security Number, account numbers, passwords, or other sensitive personal data over the phone.
- Check your mobile phone for built-in features. You can use phone number blocking, do not disturb, or other features to stop the unwanted robocalls.
- Check with your mobile phone carrier to see what services they offer. Some carriers offer call filtering apps for free or for a small fee.
- Download a third-party call filtering app. Some apps are available for free and others have one-time or monthly fees. Comparison shop to find the solution that best fits your needs.
For more information contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/
How to Stop Unwanted Calls: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-stop-unwanted-calls
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (CFPB) has defined financial capacity as a the combination of attitude, knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy needed to make and exercise money management decisions that best fit the circumstances of one’s life, within an enabling environment that includes, but is not limited to, access to appropriate financial services.
Many of the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to build financial capacity can be learned. People learn behavior through a variety of contexts. Children, in particular, learn through practices modeled by a parent or caregiver. In fact, research shows that parents and caregivers have the most influence on their children’s financial capability.
If you are like most parents, you probably recognize this—and you are interested in setting your kids on a good path toward financial well-being. However, many parents also say they do not always have time, tools, or personal confidence to start talking about money thinking their children will learn about it in school, later on, when they are old enough to understand.
This is most unfortunate. According to the Council for Economic Education 2018 Survey of the States, only 17 States require high school students to take a course in personal finance. So, if a parent isn’t teaching their children basic money/financial skills who is? Economical and financial literacy is a foundational element to achieving financial health and financial well-being. It is never too early (or too late) to start building this.
Talking to children about money, even in EARLY CHILDHOOD, helps children build the skills they need later in life. Early childhood education experts like to call this scaffolding. You are setting the framework…the support…the platform, encouraging financial capability milestones from early childhood into young adulthood. Children can learn the behaviors, knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics that support financial health and well-being.
Books can help start these critical early conversation. The CFPB has made it EASY! Parents can be their child’s first financial capability teacher! The University of Wisconsin-Extension Family Living Programs and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security have selected books for the CFPB Money as you Grow Book Club. This program uses easy to read and understand children’s books to discuss money concepts. These books include many favorites:
- A Bargain for Frances, by Russell Hoban
- A Chair for My Mother, by Vera Williams
- Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst
- Count on Pablo, by Barbara deRubertis
- Cuenta con Pablo, by Barbara deRubertis
- Curious George Saves His Pennies, by Margaret and H.AS. Rey
- Just Shopping With Mom, by Mercer Mayer
- Lemonade in Winter, by Emily Jenkins
- My Rows and Piles of Coins, by Tololwa M. Mollel
- Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall
- Sheep in a Shop, by Nancy Shaw
- The Berenstain Bears & Mama’s New Job, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
- The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- The Purse, by Kathy Caple
- The Rag Coat, by Lauren Mills
- Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts
- Tia Isa Wants a Car, by Meg Medina
- Tia Isa Quiere un Carro, by Meg Medina
Fortunately, many of the building blocks for good financial decision making – like self-regulation, patience, planning, and problem-solving – do not require a lot of financial know-how.
Reading books with children is a creative way to learn about the many sides of money management. Pick up a few of the titles at your local library and influence your children’s financial capability. Building good habits leads to a life of good financial health and well-being.
Example of key ideas from reading books:
||How Children Show It
||Can look at a few choices and select on what will bring the best results.
||Can follow a multi–step plan.
||Can prioritize choices when they want two or more things at once.
|Can describe problems and come up with a few idea to make things better.
||Can identify the different jobs people in the family and in the community do to earn money and keep it safe.
||Make spending choices with their own money – real or play.
||Keeps money in a safe place and keeps track of amount saved for future spending.
|Sharing and borrowing
||Can explain the difference between lending and giving something away.
||Can talk about times when they were able to wait and how they were able to do it.
||Can identify who they can turn to for help reaching a goal, or what tools or tricks might help them stick with a plan.
|Staying true to yourself
||Name one special thing they like about themselves and their loved ones.
||Can talk about a time when their plans did not turn out how they wanted and what they did instead.
Just like your home, finances need regular “cleaning” and maintenance. Plan time this spring to focus on financial tasks. A little time spent getting organized and reviewing your financial habits helps keep your financial goals on track.
Spring clean your finances by getting organized. Photo Credit: Kendra Zamojski
A good spring cleaning starts with getting organized. Sort through important papers. Decide what you need to keep and what can be shredded or tossed. File your important papers. If you don’t have a home filing system, now is a great time to set one up. With an organized filing system, you can locate important documents quickly and easily when needed. Use UF/IFAS Extension’s Financial Recordkeeping resource to know what to keep and what to toss.
Track Your Spending
Update your spending plan by reviewing your financial goals. Check your financial progress by tracking your spending. Where is your money going? Is your money going toward your goals? Get the whole family involved in recording expenditures for a month. Track expenses by writing down every expenditure on a piece of paper. Alternatively, find a box and place all your receipts in it, being sure to include any money spent even if you didn’t receive a receipt. At the end of the month, review your spending record and look for places where you can cut back. UF/IFAS Extension’s Building a Spending Plan: All Six Steps is a great tool to create or update your spending plan.
Review Your Credit Report
A good credit history saves money through lower interest rates and makes it easier to get credit when needed. Annually, review your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. By law, consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Get free copies of your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. Consider rotating through the three bureaus every few months so you can check your credit report throughout the year. Review your credit report for errors and fraudulent activity. Also, review any negative information that could impact your credit and credit score.
Credit scores are based on the information contained in your credit report. You can obtain your credit score from www.myfico.com for a fee. Many credit card companies offer free FICO scores through their online billing websites. Companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame offer free credit score estimates but these sites also include advertisements for financial and other products. Check out UF/IFAS Extension’s You and Your Credit Series.
Make your finances a part of your springtime cleaning routine. A little time spent getting organized and reviewing your spending plan and credit reports will go a long way toward keeping you on track toward your financial goals.