It’s time to stop thinking of college as a right and start to realize it’s a major purchase!

Don't let student loan debt weigh you down

Don’t let student loan debt weigh you down

It’s that time of year when families are anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters for their kids!

I know because we have been waiting as well. It’s an exciting (and stressful) time for these young adults and their parents as they await the ‘word’ about their child’s future.

Most families have made sure that their children have submitted to multiple schools to ensure that they are given at least two or more options to ultimately sit down and finally consider in the end. The hardest part is the ‘aftermath’ of the letters? CHOSING!

For some it may not be an issue but for the average American family today, the cost of college has risen so high that the choice should not be easy. It should be a calculated decision process with finances being one of the leading factors. Why? Because the average college student today graduates with $30,000-40,000 of student loan debt. And that’s the ‘average’. Some graduate with loans in the range of $80,000-100,000! This is debt that will weigh them down and delay them from starting a family, saving money, or buying a house. And remember, if they meet their ‘special someone’ during or shortly after college, the odds are that their ‘special someone” has a similar scenario! Multiply by 2 and these young adults are starting their adult lives shackled by $80,000-200,000 of student loan debt to pay back!

I meet with many families who feel they MUST allow their young adult their first college of choice, however when considering which college to chose many things can and should be considered/discussed before the final decision is made.

You might think college can’t be done without debt, but Rachel Cruze, Dave Ramsey’s spitfire daughter, begs to differ. “I believe the two keys to graduating debt free are pretty simple: hard work and preparation,” Rachel says. She shares the secret to making it happen in a new book she wrote with her dad called SMART MONEY SMART KIDS. Here are a few of the highlights she suggests you consider:

  • Choose a College the family CAN afford: It’s time to stop thinking of college as a right and start to realize it’s a major purchase. Treat it like one and shop around. In-state public universities offer a great education for a fraction of the cost of out-of-state or private schools. Kids can save even more by knocking out their first two years of prerequisites at a local community college then transferring to a state university to complete their last two years- If they want to be a graduate of a school they can attend in year 3-4 and BE a graduate of that school.
  • Apply for Scholarships and Grants: Senior year gives Junior the opportunity to earn free money by applying for scholarships and grants. And he doesn’t have to be a straight-A student to take home the prize. Dig deep and you’ll find all sorts of opportunities to save a buck. Encourage Junior to start early and submit as many applications as possible. A little hard work on the front end pays off in the long run!
  • Get a Job: If you think Junior’s grades will suffer if he works his way through college, think again. A part-time job could actually help! Research shows that students who work 10–19 hours a week have higher GPAs on average than those who don’t. Being financially invested in his own education just might be what Junior needs to kick it into high gear and graduate in four years!

If you need assistance with getting your financial budget in shape before you broach the issue of college OR if you are already feeling the burden of tuition payments that were added to your budget, I can help!

Denial…”I’m not that out of shape!”

Denial…"I'm not that out of shape!"

One of the most common themes I’ve struggled with in my own life is the “I’m not really that out of shape!”  Yet I’ve taken the same 25 pounds off and on again for the past two decades…over and over and over again.  First, the clothes start to get a little tight, but I tell myself “I’m not really that out of shape”.  Feeling sluggish by 3pm becomes a daily occurrence and I add more caffeine and tell myself again “I’m not really that out of shape”. The stairs seem to make me more ‘winded’ each time I have to track laundry up and down but you know what? You get it!  So the imprints of these things start to affect me in a way that I start thinking I better do SOMETHING. So I get motivated. I decide on what  plan of attack I’ll take. I get to the gym, take a walk, eat better…do well, shed some pounds and start to feel BETTER!
                  But then something happens.  I get busy, stressed, start feeling selfish for taking ‘ME time’ away from my family and business and slowly slip into those old habits and the pounds come back again.

One of the ways we can combat this is to ask for support/mentorship. This past year my weight loss goals have been met and with relative consistency because of the help of a trainer and wellness coach. I’ve found that when I have more  ‘skin in the game’ I am more committed and I’m seeing longer term results and developing a healthy pattern of new behaviors.

                  The same is true of developing a healthy plan for your finances.

Many of us, me included, hit periods where we start ‘the plan’  to spend less and save more.  Commit ourselves to stop charging and start paying back on things we splurged on month’s ago.  How many of you are still trying to pay for Christmas ‘2014 or summer vacation from LAST year?  How many of you are still paying for your college education and yet haven’t seen the inside of a dorm room in nearly a decade? We get ‘on track’ but then something happens.  Not the normal ‘Oh no, Alex’s cleats don’t fit anymore and tryouts are next week!!!” OR “he’s turning 16 in two weeks and the driver training enrollment needs to be in NOW?!” type stuff. It’s more like this:  “I’ve cooked three nights in a row and no one wants the leftovers the heck with it, let’s go out!” OR “I can’t believe it, I FINALLY got a 30% off code at Kohl’s!”  and….. WE GIVE IN.  WE GET “OFF TRACK”.  We think, just like other struggle areas that “we are really not THAT bad‘.   But our perception is tainted. We look around and try to justify that ‘everyone’ does it. We tell ourselves that our kids need to have a better education than we did no matter what the cost. Our student loan feels like a family pet. We end up working harder &  longer, and many times in jobs that are unfulfilling and even stop believing that the life we dream about is even possible any longer.

   How would using a financial coach benefit you in the way a wellness coach benefited me?

  • Do you need help navigating through a financial crisis?  
  • Building a workable budget? And having an accountability partner as you learn your way?
  • Need help eliminating your debt once and for all? 
  • Learn how to deal with collectors? 
  • Establish a plan for retirement and college?

These are all areas of support where real guidance could make huge difference in the long term quality of your life!