Posted in Building Wealth, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

We all have seen or heard this saying before.  Every time I hear it, I picture the elderly lady laying on the floor, alone and helpless.  Until she hits the button and asks for help.  Do you feel like you have fallen and can’t get up?  Do you think you’ve made mistakes in your finances, your career, your relationships, and your life that are so big, you are stuck where you are?

That is simply not true.

Yesterday, like most Sundays, I was sitting around in my pjs, relaxing and watching football.  I happen to be watching the Washington vs. Atlanta game since my Eagles had a bye week.  For the last several years, Atlanta has made it to the post season.  They have been one of the top teams.  However, this year, just a few weeks ago, they found themselves with a record of 1-4.  This record is not good when you have Super Bowl dreams.  Basically, the Falcons had fallen.  And the question everyone was asking was would they get up.

The team answered that question with a resounding “Yes!”.

The announcers were talking about what Coach Quinn had done to rally his team out of their slump.  They talked about how members on the team stepped up and said this is not okay.  They begin making changes – what they had been doing wasn’t working.  They came up with a new plan, a new way and in the process, found success.  Their record after this week is 4-4 – they beat Washington (who is leading their division).  And Julio Jones, one of their key receivers, made a touchdown after 343 days.

So what can we take from all this jibber jabber?  We all fall – even the best fall.  The key to success and winning is whether you decide you get up or keep laying there.  When the lady fell, she reached out for help.  When Atlanta fell, they developed a new plan.

So back to the questions I asked in the beginning – have you fallen?  What are you going to do about it?  Are you going to get up or just lie there?  Are you going to develop a new plan or just keep doing the same thing over and over?  Are you going to ask for help or just stay where you are?

The decision is yours to make.  When I found myself over $200,000 in debt, a single mom, making $10,000 a year, I had these same choices.  I decided to get up.  I decided to develop a new game plan.  I decided to ask for help.  And in doing so, I found success.  Now, what are you going to do?

If you need to press the help button, simply click here and reach out to Debbi and her team.  They have developed products, books and services to serve you anyway that they can.  Personal finance is personal and Debbi and her team are here to meet you where you are and help you reach all of your goals and dreams!

Posted in Building Wealth, College & Student Loans, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

Every Mother’s Dream

Or this mother at least!

My daughter is currently attending the University of New Haven.  She graduated high school in May of 2016 and began her college journey that September.  I try not to over talk about her or her decisions; however, when it comes to college, I believe we all can learn from her journey.  So if you will indulge me, I would like to share a few things she has done that I believe everyone should do when it comes to life after high school.

1.  Research your passion – We all dream of something as a little person – we want to be a teacher, firefighter, garbage man – so many options for a young mind.  However, when we turn 16, it starts to get real.  We reach that part of our lives where we not only need to dream, but we need to take action.  Let me be clear about something – college isn’t for everyone.  If you choose to not go to college, you are no less important than anyone else.  The important thing is to find your passion – that thing that you will enjoy doing day in and day out.  And understand – this may change along the way.  You are only 16 and have many years ahead of you, but you have to start somewhere.

My daughter’s high school required that every student do one day of job shadowing in order to graduate.  However, my daughter had a few careers she was considering and so she did three job shadowing days.  In doing so, she eliminated two career choices right away and ascertained that she wanted to go into the criminal justice field.  You may find, by the way, that your passion doesn’t require a college education.  Don’t spend the money on college if it is not needed.  Use college as a place to get the required education, if needed, for your field.  Many careers require only a high school diploma or trade school experience.  Know what you need and go about getting that – college or no college.

2.  The best for the least – In today’s job market, where you get your education isn’t as important as the experience you receive in the process.  There are a few schools that are still held in high esteem, but most employers are looking for what you know, not where you learned it.  This is why in most cases, the least expensive way to pay for college is by attending a community college for 2 years and then transferring to a four-year college if needed.  Just like when you are shopping, you want to get the best education possible for the least amount of money.  This requires a plan of action.

After researching many schools, my daughter really wanted to attend the University of New Haven.  They are one of the top criminal justice schools and have organizations such as banks, the FBI, and more recruiting directly from them.  However, UNH is a private institution.  This has its pros and cons – it cost a lot, but has great potential for large school scholarships.  My daughter had always tried to maintain a high GPA in high school because she knew it could benefit her financially when college time rolled around.  And it did just that.  She was able to get a scholarship directly with the school for half of her tuition.  She then applied for other scholarships and received them, ended up in the honors program after her first year, which afforded her more scholarships and ended up paying less to go to private college than she would have going to an in state university.  She also took AP exams which gave her credit for classes she needed, took summer classes at the community college online, and is now graduating a year early, saving her over $26,000.

Again, I don’t say this to brag.  I share this because she is an awesome example of how to get the best for the least.  She had a dream and she went after it with everything she had.  She even surprised me and I raised her.  She did things I never would have done when I was in college.  She is proof that it is not about just signing up for a college, getting student loans and hoping it works out.

3.  The words we all want to hear – We helped her pay for most of her college, but in the end she took out small loans for her part that she already has a plan to be paid back within a year of graduation.  That was for the first two years – however, this year, she moved off campus which saved a bunch of money.  In June, we received the tuition bill for the fall semester.  We paid our part as always.  And then she told me she wanted to cash flow her senior year.  2 weeks ago she paid $4,000 in cash and is working to pay cash for her last semester.  No more student loans!

Of course, that is music to my ears given my profession – teaching people to pay cash for everything.  But what made me even more proud as a mom was what she said – “Mom, it was hard to let go of the cash, but it felt so good.”  She was able to feel the pain of having a loan, even though it is small, and the freedom of paying cash.  Guess what – she won’t borrow money anymore.

As a parent, we have to find a balance between doing everything for our kids and holding their hand as they learn this thing called adulthood.  It was hard for me when she took out the loans, but I knew she would learn what I had learned.  Luckily, she had 3 less zeros on her’s.  And before one dollar is due, she has a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible – she is not just wishing or hoping, she is putting action behind it.

Thank you for allowing me to share my daughter’s journey with you.  I am very proud of her as I know you are of yours.  Teach them, let them learn, and always keep the conversation going.

Check out “The Adulting Survival Kit: The Ultimate Personal Finance Toolkit” in Debbi’s store.  It is what every young adult needs to start this journey called life.  Shop Now

Posted in College & Student Loans

No Loan College

This past Friday, my husband and I experienced one of the proudest moments in a parent’s life:  the graduation of our son.  And one of the things we are the proudest of is how he went about getting his degree and where he is going next.  You see, when he graduated high school, he went to the local community college because everyone thought he should and he thought it was the next logical step.  So he began to take classes in what he thought he wanted to do when he finished school; it was a passion he had enjoyed all through high school.  However, as he began to get into some core classes, he realized that this wasn’t for him.  So he quit.  But instead of doing nothing with his life, he worked and tried to figure out what his passion was and what he wanted to be when he grew up.

When he had a better idea of where he wanted to go, he started community college again.  It took him a little while because he was working and going to school, but on Friday he graduated with his Associates degree in Business and will now be transferring to UNC to finish his degree.  And now when we talk to him, he knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.  He is 26.  Most kids don’t know what they want to do at 18 and if they go straight to college – a 4 year expensive college – then they are just wasting their money and yours.

So first I want to say encourage your kids in the right direction.  They should only go to college when they are ready and if they need it to do what they want to do.  They should never go just because “society” says they should.  And if they decide that college is right for them, they need to attend the right school in the best way so that they don’t graduate already 3 steps behind because they owe $50,000.  Here are just a few examples of what kids can do to avoid school loans altogether:

Start at Community College – The first 2 years of your degree is mostly spent on core courses.  The knowledge you gain is the same no matter where you get it.  So why not save a bunch of money and get what you need at your local community college.  You just need to make sure that the credits and the degree will transfer.  Where my son went, they had a program entitled “Transfer Students” which helped you get everything you needed to move on at the end of 2 years.

Go to an In-State State College – The least expensive 4 year colleges are the state schools and the least expensive for you will be attending one in your state.  Out of state fees are much more than in state fees.  You are going to school for knowledge and the knowledge is the same everywhere.   Most employers will not look at where you received your degree from but at what you did and learned while you were there.

Apply for Grants and Scholarships – You need to make it a job applying for every grant and scholarship you can find.  If you apply for a thousand and get 20, those are good odds and 20 can add up to a lot of money, even if they are only a couple of hundred dollars a piece.  Don’t pass over one just because it is only $100.  It all adds up and it is less money you have to pay.

Work and Cash Flow the Cost – If the parents can’t pay for school, that is okay.  There is no shame in that.  A young person can work hard all summer and pay for the next year out of that money.  They can also work while going to school.  I worked while I was in college and I think it helped me when I graduated.  It taught me the value of hard work and that not everything was going to be handed to me.

These are just a few of the main examples on how to go to college without student loans.  Student loans seem easy – “I’ll just sign now and worry about it later.”  But it isn’t that simple.  Student loans come with interest charges which means that if your schooling cost $20,000, you are going to end up paying $30,000 or more for that loan.  If you had done the steps above, you would pay less than $20,000 if you include grants and scholarships.  And the reality is you are not guaranteed a job when you graduate.  You may have to work at the mall for a while and that is okay, but not if you owe an extra $200-300 per month.

Bottom line – find your passion, decide if you need college, and if you do, attend wisely and let your graduation be a day of freedom, not the beginning of your debt journey.