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Extension offers financial planning programs

11It's no wonder the last week of February has been designated as America Saves Week, a national campaign that encourages individuals and families to save money in order to build wealth or reduce debt.

In the next few weeks, K-State Research and Extension will offer several educational opportunities that focus on smart money management to help participants build financial stability and security. You might find just the right topic of interest to you and your family. Save the date for these programs, and call the Ellis County Extension office at (785) 628-9430 to register or for more information.

* Know Your Credit: The Ellis County Extension Office will host a noon-hour program on "Know Your Credit" at noon Feb. 25 at the Ellis County Extension office meeting room, 601 Main. Enter the rear door from the north parking lot.

This free program will explain the difference between a credit report and credit score, provide tips to manage credit behavior and understand the costs involved with using credit. Jamie Rathbun, Midway District Extension agent, will be the guest speaker.

Bring a lunch to enjoy during the program, if desired. Beverages will be provided.

* Preserving the Family with Estate Planning: A team of Extension agents in northwest Kansas has planned the workshop "Preserving the Family with Estate Planning" to aid families in beginning the process of transitioning assets from one generation to another. Attorneys and Extension experts will speak on estate planning basics, family communication, transfer of non-titled assets, charitable estate planning and farm transition planning. The goal of the workshop is to help families use estate planning to preserve the most valuable asset of all: The family itself.

The workshop will be in two locations: March 13 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hoxie, and March 14 at Thirsty's Banquet Room in Hays.

The cost for the all-day workshop is $15, due March 7, and includes program handouts, refreshments and lunch. Late registration or walk-in cost is $20; however, the meal cannot be guaranteed for those who register late. Space is limited, so early registration is advised.

The workshop registration brochure is available on the Ellis County Extension website at, or your can contact us for more information at (785) 628-9430.

* America Saves Financial Challenge: To coincide with America Saves Week, the Cooperative Extension system is launching a free five-week online challenge. The program begins Sunday and continues through March 29.

The "America Saves Financial Challenge" is based on 10 daily recommended financial practices. Points are given for performing personal actions such as tracking money spent, saving change and reading articles about financial issues. Paper tracking forms can be downloaded to keep track of daily activities until they are entered online, at least once a week. Participants can compare their progress to others across the country. Weekly and grand prizes will be awarded.

Doing even a few of the 10 recommended daily financial practices is a great way to get started on the path to financial security. To participate, visit, create an account and enroll in the "2014 America Saves Challenge."

Remember, February is a great time to think about managing your money.

Linda Beech is a Kansas State University Research & Extension agent in Ellis County specializing in family and consumer sciences.