Just how well do you understand health insurance policies? It's a challenging topic! Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed people about health insurance terms and concepts; only 4% answered all of the 10 questions correctly. However, that quiz is from 2014. With the Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) enrollment period now open, this seems like a good time for a new quiz. Let's see how you do with this five-statement, true-false quiz.

People can enroll for health insurance anytime during the year.

To celebrate the upcoming America Saves Week (Feb. 27-March 4, 2017), America Saves is launching the #ImSavingFor contest. It's easy to enter. Just share a short video of your savings story, or a picture of you and what you are saving for and enter to win $1,000 at americasavesweek.org/imsavingfor.

How to enter:

Does your agency work with low to moderate income clients on debt management, budgeting, or understanding financial products like payday loans and prepaid debit card? University of Illinois Extension's All My Money: Change for the Better curriculum was created for you!

All My Money: Change for the Better is designed so that social workers, counselors, instructors and others can teach financial literacy topics even if they do not personally have expertise in financial management.

Every year we dread doing the one thing we must get done, and that is filing our taxes. This year, I want to help make taxes more fun and enjoyable!

Have you heard about IRS Tax Form 8888? If not, it's going to be your new best friend this tax season!

Have you heard that phrase – "being saving"? If not, you might have thought there was a typo or that I've forgotten the rules of grammar. But actually, it's a phase I grew up with. it might be a "regionalism" – a word or phrase whose use is limited to one part of the country – or an antiquated phrase. When I searched online, I found two books from the early 1900s that used it. One even had an entire chapter on it!

To help you get your head around this, think of how we talk today about "going green." Now, the grammar of "being saving" may make more sense.

Student Loans. As a financial educator and millennial, I am one of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have student loan debt. Most of the debt was my choice, but the ramifications of my choice never fully hit me until I had to start paying them back.

On a good day, I wonder if my family hears what I say or if all they hear is "blah, blah, blah!" However, when I talk about what I want to happen if I'm in an accident, hospitalized or die, I'm SURE some of my family completely blocks my words. That's why I think it's so important that I write down how I want my health and my property handled if I can't talk for myself.

Luckily, we have legal documents that we can use to communicate our wishes. Writing down what's important to us helps:

Would you like to be a part of the team that writes this blog?  University of Illinois Extension is looking for a dynamic person who would like to teach personal finance and consumer issues! Is this you or someone you know?  The position closes September 29th so act now.

Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science (Consumer Economics) – Unit 12

Do you have a credit history? If you're not planning to borrow money, perhaps you think it's not important. Well, your credit history can affect your finances even when you're not borrowing money! Insurance companies, perspective employers (for some types of jobs), and utility companies may be looking at your credit report or credit score to determine what to charge you or whether to offer you a job.

Last month I wrote a post about starting the student loan chronicles. For those of us paying back student loans, th

Clearly college is expensive. However, most of the cost is not tuition! According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public 4-year, in-state costs in 2015-16 for students totaled $19,189 and tuition and fees was only 46% of total costs; room and board was the remaining cost. Add in other costs, such as fun, clothing, and toiletries and tuition and fees is an even smaller percent.

The Student Loan Chronicles: What is the average amount people owe?

Back in May, I started the Student Loan Chronicles blog series. Last month I covered

The last few summers I have spent time compiling and creating educational money-related activities for young children. In other words, I get to read creative, insightful picture books and experiment with fun hands-on materials! Then, during the school year, University of Illinois Extension staff and volunteers present these lessons to youth. I am very impressed with how curious children 4-11 years old are about money and how much information they absorb from our short lessons.

Children see us go shopping, pay bills and go to work, but we don't often talk to them about how we use money.

In the last few years, we've had data breaches at the IRS, grocery stores, retail stores and now a major credit bureau. After much thought, I've come to accept that my Social Security number is no longer private, and won't be for the rest of my life. In addition, because I care more about someone using my identity for financial gain than anyone else, it's up to me to monitor my financial accounts.

While I can't stop identity theft, I can take steps to minimize damage. Many strategies are available and each person must decide which strategies are best for them.

With the hint of spring in our gardens, I feel like we're moving out of the slow-moving pace of winter into the season of festivals, events and outdoor activities. On top of all these activities, April is National Financial Literacy Month, taxes are due, and Money Smart Week returns to our communities during the last week! As you can imagine, my calendar is filling up – maybe you'd like to add these events to your calendar too.

I know several people that use their credit cards for everything from buying a pack of gum, or a cup of coffee all the way up to a car. One even used a credit card to buy and remodel a house! Think about the way you use credit cards. I'll give you a moment……

With the recent data breach at Equifax, a credit bureau company, you may be wondering whether you should freeze your credit report. I am one of the people Equifax has identified as "potentially impacted" by the data breach so I've been pondering my actions.

First, what is a credit freeze?

A credit freeze stops the credit bureau from releasing your credit report or any information from it, except in certain exceptions. For example, companies you currently have loans with and collection agencies can still receive your report.

During times of uncertainty it can be difficult to know what financial steps to take. How can we make financial plans if we don't have all the information we need? Well, sometimes we just have to move forward with what we do know.

First, evaluate your savings. Do you have enough money set-aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses? While we don't know what will happen in the economy in the near future, having the flexibility to respond to needs without borrowing money is a good financial practice.

Ah, wedding season. The time of the year when we celebrate the love of two people to be bound legally together. Whether you're in the bridal party, parent, grandparent or friend... weddings these days can be costly! According to The Knot's 2016 Real Wedding Study, the average wedding costs $35,329 dollars (and that doesn't even include the honeymoon!) Even attending a wedding as a guest can get expensive, especially if you have to fly to the destination, get a hotel and a rental car, not to mention the food costs involved - you can easily spend over $1,000!

Do you want to get the most bang for your buck?  Of course you do! We all know there are only so many dollars in our paycheck and an endless number of opportunities to spend those dollars.  Being creative and very conscious of your spending goes a long way to stretching your dollars.

Check Your Bills Carefully

A few months ago, I was shopping for groceries at my local grocery store when I kept hearing this noise. The noise it turns out was a personal shopper scanning grocery items for a grocery pick up. When I asked the store associate about it, she said that more and more people were trying it. As a financial educator, I was intrigued and went ahead and signed up.

So what did I find?

With Thanksgiving this week, holiday shopping will be in full swing come Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday! So, here are some last minute holiday shopping tips to keep your spending plan in check!

USE YOUR CASH