Sunday, December 03, 2006

New Animation Series Teaches Kids About Money

I'm always happy when I hear about projects to help kids learn to save:

The animated series, titled "Big Time Saver," extols the virtues of prudent money management, including saving for the future - "Don't spend it all ... on sneakers and bling" - establishing a healthy credit record - "Payin' my debt, it's my rep" - and creating a college fund - "All kids of every nation, make a cash donation to your sure foundation, your college education."

The video and two others featuring the popular cartoon characters will debut this week nationally on the Black Family Channel during the children's morning programming.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Post College Personal Finance Crash Course

While I'm getting ahead of the game and getting my college savings in order, not all are that prepared. For those who didn't prepare and end up with debt coming out of college, here are a few tips to help you that are sound money advice post graduation:

  • Participate In The Company 401k Plan
  • Consolidate Your Loans
  • Be Selective About Which Debt You Pay Off First
  • Pay Bills On Time
  • Establish A Health Care Plan
  • Identify Your Goals
  • Develop Good Spending Habits
  • Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Pay Students To Take College Classes

    Here is an interesting idea: Pay high school students to take college level classes. That is the proposal of the Minnesota Private College Council which is proposing the state spend $100 million over two years to give high school students incentives to take college prep courses. Student would be able to earn up to $5,000 in scholarship money under the proposed program.

    I'm all for any program that can help people afford the cost of college. I"m interested to see if this will help students better prepare for college and I'd like to see what type of results a program like this might bring.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    41 Tips To Help A Student Get "A" Grades

    While getting my finances in order so that I can pay for college is important, getting good grades and enjoying my studies will also be on the top of my list. I came across this good list of 41 Tips To Help A Student Get "A" Grades. Here are a few of them that I liked:

    5. A useful measure to recall the material you have read is to get another person to ask you questions or alternatively ask yourself questions about the material you have read. i.e. What is the main assessment criteria?

    14. Try to develop the skills of listening for the important word cues that illustrate or reveal the teacher/speaker’s emphasis. These include words like most important, on the other hand, in addition to etc.

    36. It is advisable to try to schedule work or study that demands high levels of concentration, such as taking notes on a specific text in 50 minute time periods. Then have a short break.

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    State Versus Private: Which Is The Better Buy

    The decision on whether to go to a state or private college is still quite a ways off for me, but the finances involved make for a big decision. Since I'm planning to have all my college funding saved by the time I turn 18, if I choose to go to a college that is less expensive, I will have money left over to begin my life once out of college. I will have to seriously weight the benefits of both options to see what is best.

    I started thinking about this from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    Sending a child to a prestigious school is a real accomplishment. But lots of happy and successful people have come out of the state schools. At less than one-third the cost, maybe they're a better buy.

    Free Teens and Money Kit

    Talking with my uncle (okay, it really isn't talking yet, but I am blurting out words now and then), I realized that not all kids are lucky enough to have banks in their area or museums to help them learn money skills. If that is the case, you can get some help from the government. The Federal Citizen Information Center offers a free "Teens and Money" package to help teens learn about important money information:

    The older your children get, the more they have to deal with real-world challenges like saving money, getting car insurance, and managing credit cards. Help them get ready for adult life with the Teens and Money package.

    Order Your Free Package Here

    Money Museum Field Trip

    It is not only at the bank where kids like me can learn about how money works. The Children’s Museum of Cleveland (CMC) is launching a new financial literacy school field-trip program to introduce first and second grade school children key money management lessons. CMC’s “Money, My Community and Me” program will also be offered to museum visitors and CMC members as part of its family learning initiative. “Money, My Community and Me” is aimed at helping Cleveland-area students begin to grasp the concepts of financial literacy, budgeting and saving.

    According to a A.G. Edwards survey, only about one in four U.S. children (27 percent) have learned about saving and investing through their schools. In addition, more than half of U.S. parents with children in the home have not discussed saving or investing with their children.

    The museum field trip will teach:

  • The basics of earning money as a “member of the community”

  • How to make choices about spending and saving, through the use of play money and a trip through the “Bridges to Our Community” permanent exhibit area that consists of a bank, grocery store, gas station, bus, hospital and home.

  • The impact of their spending and saving choices on both immediate purchases and long-term financial goals

    The program at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland is also being set up at 17 children’s museums across the country which I hope will help other younf kids like me learn more about money at a young age.
  • Banking Skills At A Young Age

    I think it's always good when children are encouraged to learn about money, saving and interest. The earlier the better. I have been happy to read about more banks setting up programs for children like this one mentioned in The Signal:

    Hundreds of children throughout the Santa Clarita Valley have been getting hands-on practice saving money through a community youth project run by parents through local schools.

    Elementary students are able to open an account for only 25 cents through Washington Mutual's School Savings program, and every other deposit - no matter how small - earns a prize.

    It would be great to see all communities set up similar programs with banks in their area...

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Parents Under Estimating College Aid Their Kids Will Get

    My uncle just read to me about a new study which says that parents are under-estimating the amount of aid their kids will qualify for when they attend college. According to an article at

    The study found that 87 percent of parents believe scholarships and grants will cover at least part of their children's undergraduate expenses, and nearly three-quarters think their children are "special or unique" enough to win a scholarship.

    Financial aid administrators said 92 percent of parents overestimate the amount of scholarship money their children will receive...

    This is another reason it pays to start saving for college early. While I will try and get all the aid and scholarships that I can to help pay for college, i want these to supplement what I have saved so I can choose the best way to pay for the education. I'm learning early that getting organized early and saving opens up a lot of opportunities and will give me much more flexibility when it comes to my college education. I hope everyone reading takes the same steps...

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Net Worth Update - September 2006

    I finally settled on what to do with all the money that was sitting in cash. I moved $2600.00 to a S&P 500 Index Fund Account for the time being. It isn't in a 529 plan for the time being because we aren't sure what state we will be living in and I can't receive any tax benefits from it for now. We will address that issue when I know where in the US I'll be staying. Another issue is that I have heard that the grandparents have also started college funds and if this is the case, it might be better to have this money not have to go toward education.

    There was a bit of change in the numbers of my ING account. The one that I had been using has been taken over by my mom to use for other saving purposes for me and I am now using the one with my uncle. That means the balance has decreased a bit, but the difference went into my cash account.

    As noted in the post before, my blog is now generating just over $200 a month in advertising. That will grow my income by 4%+ per month for the near future which I think is an excellent pace. I'm still considering with my uncle other possible ways to generate some money to pad my account a bit more.

    I'm still on a good track and hope to continue along as I have been.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Step By Step Plan To Finance College For Any Baby

    I have been hearing a lot about the cost of college and the amount of debt that students are graduating from school with and how this is affecting their finances throughout life. What I find is amazing is that anyone reading this can follow my plan and have their entire college education paid for (or at least a huge portion of it) with very little time or effort. This is my simple plan that has been working wonderfully for me and I believe can work for anyone to create a nice college nest egg by the time you're eighteen years old.

    This month I will make over $200 in advertising and I expect to continue to earn that much for the foreseeable future (and in fact believe it will grow as time goes on). Even if it doesn't increase any more, nobody gives another college funding gift to me and I don't earn a cent of interest in the next 17 years, I'll still have about $45,000 for college when it's time for me to go. With interest, increased earnings and gifts from family and friends, I expect to have well over $100,000. The great thing is that anyone of you can have it too if you do the following simple steps:

    As soon as you know you're going to exist in this world, start a blog (I consider myself a late starter at 4 months). This doesn't cost a penny if you do like have done and begin the blog on a free service. For long term, you might want to consider getting your own domain (something that I'm considering at the moment), but this is certainly not necessary at the beginning.

    Choose a topic to blog about in addition to being a baby. The topic should be one that both you and the person that will be helping you (you may need a bit of help until you get your hand / eye / typing coordination down) enjoy so that the blog will be updated on a fairly regular basis. Then simply start blogging about you and get your opinion out into the blogoshere.

    Once the blog is set up, take some time to place ads such a google adsense on your blog. Earmark any money earned through this advertisement medium to go directly toward your college fund. Also set up an area in your sidebar where you can sell advertising text links to advertisers.

    Find blogs that you enjoy reading and that have a similar topic to yours and trade links with them if possible. This will help people know that your blog exists and help it get better indexed in search engines.

    These are the basics to getting your blog off the ground and putting in place a system where you can begin to earn a fair amount in advertising that will go toward your college fund. It is also a wonderful place to update family and friends on what you're up to and the things you're thinking about.

    In addition to setting up the blog to help with college expenses, I would also highly recommend taking the following steps to help increase your college fund even more.

  • Tell all family and friends that what you really want for special occasions such as birthdays and at Christmas is a small monetary donation for your college fund.
  • As you outgrow your baby things, have your parents sell them through Craigslist or on eBay and have all earnings from them go toward your college fund.
  • Sign up for programs like Upromise that will give you free money toward your college education for everyday purchases you make.
  • Take advantage of all the free and discounted things that manufacturers give to babies and place the savings into your college fund.
  • Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    The Value Of Money - Museum Program

    I always get a smile on my face (and clap my hands - I'm really into clapping my hands at the moment) when I hear about programs that help to teach children more about money. What could be better than a museum that set up a program specifically to teach children about the value of money:

    As part of the "A.G. Edwards - The Value of Money" field trip, grade- school children will learn valuable lessons about money in a fun environment, as well as key money management lessons, including:

  • How to add coin and dollar values and make change in a game of "What's My Change?"
  • How to budget, be a wise shopper and manage money through everyday math skills
  • How to gain insight on basic saving and investing principles
  • How to write a check

  • Wouldn't it be great if all museums would set up similar programs for kids to go see and learn?

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Coverdell Education Saving Account Changes

    I mentioned earlier that 529 plans had their federal tax deduction permanently extended which nice since it helped those investing in 529 plans to feel more comfortable and not have to worry that these deductions would expire. Unfortunately, the rule changes for education accounts aren't always positive.

    For those that have Coverdell Education Saving Accounts, one of the nice advantages is that the money in the accounts can be used for private elementary and high school expenses. Beginning in 2011, this will no longer be the case. Coverdell funds will no longer be able to be used for elementary or high school tuition or related expenses. The money invested in Coverdell saving accounts will still be able to be used for college.

    Those who were planning to use their Coverdell account to help with private primary education will need to figure out a new strategy. If you choose to use the Coverdell funds for the private primary education from 2011, the money will lose its tax-free withdrawal status on the earnings and a 10% penalty will be imposed.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    More States Offering 529 Tax Breaks

    For may of us young ones, there is more good news regarding 529 plans - more and more states are giving tax deductions to these saving devices as shown in this usatoday article:

    Pennsylvania, Maine and Kansas have approved such tax breaks, and a handful of other states are considering similar measures. Previously, these states offered either no tax deduction or a deduction only if a resident contributed to the state's own 529 plan.

    But for all my peers living in states that don't currently have, or are planning, state tax breaks, don't get your hopes up. There is a significant tax income loss when the breaks are given that will keep a number of states from offering them.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Little Grad Apology

    I received an apology from Little Grad for spamming this blog which makes me feel a little better about the company. Little Grad is a company like Upromise where you can get cash placed into a college savings plan by purchasing items through retailers that are affiliated with them.

    When I first began writing here, I kept getting post from them telling me how great their site was and how I should check it out. The first one was fine, but when I started to get more saying basically the same thing and always a link for me to check them out, I decided it was spam and started deleting them. It got so bad that I had to put the function in where I must approve all ads before I let them get posted now.

    I do give them credit for their honesty and that they have stopped encouraging their employees and users from doing so. here is what I received:

    Dear Financial Baby Steps,

    A friend sent me your post where you expressed being upset at Little Grad for spamming your site with overly zealous/inappropriate endorsements.

    I'm sorry this happened. Just to briefly explain why it did; when the company was new, we encouraged new employees and some of our more enthusiastic users to spread the words. (I myself posted once, as I think your site is delightful.)

    We've since asked employees and friends to curtail this practice. I wish you continued good fortune on your blogging and other endeavors.

    Suzy DeLine,
    Little Grad

    While it doesn't justify the spamming in the first place, it's nice that they admitted their wrongdoing and apologized...

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    529 Plans

    While I'm still not sure that a 529 plan is right for me, it is a good plan for a lot of people. One of the most difficult parts of it is trying to figure out the best plans. Savingforcollege has a ranking system for all the 529 plans giving them 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) caps. This might be a good place to begin your research of 529 plans.

    In other 529 plan news, many people were wary of them because the federal tax deduction was set to expire in 2010 and while most people felt that it would be renewed, there was always a chance that it wouldn't be. This is no longer a worry as the Pension Protection Act of 2006 makes the tax benefits for 529 plans permanent.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006


    It's hard to believe I've been blogging for a full year! I think I'm the first blog to be featured at blogoversary which is kind of neat (maybe I'll become a trivia question some day).

    A lot changes between being a month old and being a bit over a year old. First and foremost, I have hair! I'm also now mobile. No stopping me. If I want to walk somewhere, I can get there on my own. No more crawling or being carried (okay, I still do crawl sometimes, but that's our secret). Food has changed a lot (no more mom's milk and I get to try lots of interesting new foods). And my college saving account has been slowly and steadily growing.

    I'm sure that there will also be a lot of changes in the coming year and I'm looking forward to recording them here in the year to come.

    My Net Worth - August 2006

    It's been awhile since I updated my net worth, so I felt it was time to go through and bring everything up to date. I passed the $4000 net worth mark this month and I continue to increase my net worth by about 4% a month.

    Since my uncle has moved back to the US, I need to have him move all my cash holdings into some type of investment. I had a talk with my mom and a 529 plan I don't think will be a good option for me. Since I-Bond Rates have fallen, I don't want to place any more money there and in fact, will be withdrawing the money I have in I-Bonds next January. So the question is where to place it? Figuring out where to place that cash will be my goal this month.

    I'm feeling pretty confident with my blog. Even though it is nothing huge or popular, it is still generating $150 a month consistently and looks like it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I think I would like to figure out how to earn a bit more and will have a talk with my uncle about other possibilities.

    I think I'm still in a good spot for my age and hope to continue to grow my net worth in the months to come.

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    My Favorite Past-time

    I don't think it should come as a surprise that a baby who is already getting her finances in order would enjoy activities that have to do with money. One of my favorite is taking my dad's wallet and taking all the money and credit cards out of it. You can see for yourself:

    Going through wallets and seeing everything that is there I think is great practice for me. Of course, I still need to learn to put all the money and credit cards back into the wallet, but I guess that can wait for the next lesson...

    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    College Application Process

    Even though I'm still quite young, the whole applying to college activity already gets me stressed (I think it's time for my nap) I'm happy that I won't have to worry about financing on top of that. usatoday has a "real life" article on the admission process that's worth a read for anyone who will be going through it soon.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Free College Textbooks For Viewing Ads

    My uncle has been talking to me about the rising cost of textbooks and how they can cost close to $1000 a year now. While buying them second hand can help save some money, my little head started to think, "wouldn't it be great if there was an easy way to be able to get college textbooks for free?" I babbled this to my uncle (still working on this talking thing and see it as highly over-rated when I get all these smiles when I babble) and he said he'd look into it to see if there was anything like that. Today he came back with a answer...

    There is a new website called Freeload Press that offers college textbooks for free download in e-book form in exchange for advertising. Students (or even little babies like me if I could get the computer key thing down) can take a 5 minute survey and then download a PDF file of the textbook which can be stored on a computer and printed out if need be. The ebook textbook may also display ads to help pay for offering it for free.

    The site is still small, but they are hoping to have 250,000 free textbooks in their inventory by next year. It sounds like a good idea to me. That would mean $1000 a year less out of my pocket that I can save for other things and even at this early age, that is a great deal in my opinion...

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Financial Aid - How To Pay For College

    As my uncle reads to me more about college and finances, I'm coming to understand that many parents and kids have not saved money well in advance as I am. I hope that this blog will encourage more people to do so even if it only means putting aside a few dollars a week at an early age.

    For those that haven't saved enough for college, Fox News has an article up called The Financial Aid Game: How to Pay For College which gives a solid five step process with links to quality information. The five steps are:

  • Know the Lingo
  • Don't Be Scared by the Price Tag — Apply
  • There's Money Out There — Go Find It!
  • You Can Do It Cheaper
  • Make the Grade, and Don't Give Up

    This is worth a quick read if you are looking for ways to increase your financial aid package for college.
  • Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Beware Of College Aid Loan Preferred Lists

    I'm now walking pretty darn well, but I still don't have the reading thing down. That's okay because my uncle takes the time to do some reading for me. Here is an interesting article by John Wasik from Bloomberg News regarding the preferred lender lists that colleges give to those new students searching for loans that he read me about:

    When students or parents approach a college financial-aid office for a federal loan, they may not be getting the best possible deal.

    Borrowers are often given a ``preferred list'' of lenders certified by the college. You may believe that these are the best loans available since they are chosen by the aid office.

    Getting a loan outside of the preferred list may even be discouraged by the college, which is heavily marketed by lenders.

    The article goes on to say that rates may be better outside the preferred list and it's worthwhile checking other local lending institutions besides the college-aid loan list. Something for all of you looking at college loans to consider...

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Student Aid and Assets

    One of the big positives of me getting my college finances in order at an early age is that I hopefully won't need to worry about college aid and that entire aid process. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who didn't start saving early so they will need to get college financing aid. One of the ways that families try to maximize the aid for the student going to college is to shift assets so they aren't counted toward the financial aid formula. There is nothing wrong with this and moving assets can make a significant difference in the amount of aid that may be available, but you need to be careful not to go overboard when doing this as this article indicates:

    But sorting out the best moves is not easy: In general, there are no hard and fast rules. And while there is nothing wrong with rearranging your finances to increase the chances of getting aid, parents who try too hard to game the system risk being charged with a crime.

    “I have seen people lie about assets that they have,” said Ray Loewe, founder of College Money, a New Jersey advisory firm that specializes in college finances. “Basically, if you have an asset and you don’t disclose it, it’s fraud.”

    The article goes on to give quality advice on how to move the assets which even my uncle would endorse as a good personal finance move. Cash and other investments are counted in the formula which can reduce the amount of financial aid available. If you take the cash or sell the assets to pay down credit card debt or mortgage debt, they will no longer be counted in the formula.

    Of course, the best strategy is to start saving early so that the financial aid isn't a necessity in the first place, but it is worthwhile learning more about how to leverage the system to your advantage if you're in the position of needing financial aid.

    Monday, July 31, 2006

    Teaching Personal Finance At School

    I came across a piece that says that teachers in Pennsylvania are going to school to learn to teach personal finance. Even at a year, I think this is an excellent approach to take. Even though I still believe that it is ultimately the parents' responsibility, basic personal finance education is still a good thing:

    "Many young people today lack the basic knowledge needed to understand the increasingly complex financial marketplace - building credit, understanding interest rates and planning for retirement," said Banking Secretary Bill Schenck. "The average score among high school students in a recent survey on financial literacy was a little over 50 percent. This shows an important need to educate students in personal finance."

    Let's hope that this is something that is encouraged in every state in the coming years.

    My First Wedding

    Mom and dad took me to me to my first wedding this weekend and I got to dress up in a fancy blue dress for the event. Weddings are a lot of fun because there are flower petals on the ground that you can pick-up and play with. Even though this wasn't my event (I think I'll hold off until after college to start considering that), I must say that after the bride, I was the most popular guest there (^_^)

    margot at the wedding

    margot at the wedding

    margot at the wedding

    margot at the wedding

    Sunday, July 30, 2006


    If kids are given the chance and taught, they can go a long way to get their finances in order at an early age. The Reallionaire is one of those examples:

    Farrah Gray began contributing to his family's financial support at the age of 6, and he made his first million by the time he was 14. His success made a lot of people change their thinking about where life in the projects of Chicago's South Side could lead.

    I especially found his "five person policy" to be a great idea. When looking for help with his projects, when a person said "no" and wouldn't help him, he didn't leave it like that. Instead, he asked the person not willing to help to give him the names of 5 people that might be willing to help. Easy and brilliant.

    Parents give their kids all kinds of extra curricular activities. It may be a musical instrument, joining a sports team, clubs like boy scouts or girl scouts, swimming lessons, etc. Why don't they give them money / entrepreneurial lessons too?

    (hat tip: Thrifty Ray)

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    The Cost Of College Textbooks

    When thinking about college expenses, most of the time I think about tuition and housing costs, but the cost of textbooks is another aspect I need to consider when planning my finances for college. Some facts on the cost of college text books from an article I came across:

    A Government Accountability Office report found that in the past two decades, college textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation. In academic year 2003-04, students and their families spent more than $6 billion on new and used textbooks.

    According to the GAO, the average estimated cost of books and supplies for a first-time, full-time student in 2003-04 was $898 at four-year public institutions. That amounted to about 26 percent of the cost of tuition and fees.

    At two-year public institutions, where low-income students are more likely to pursue a degree program and tuition and fees are lower, the average estimated cost of books and supplies per first-time full-time student was $886, representing almost three-quarters of the cost of tuition and fees, according to the GAO report.

    That, folks, is not chump change when you consider that so many students are already heavily borrowing to attend college. It's not unusual for one textbook to cost more than $100.

    Since I still have 17 years before I will be attending college, books are likely to be a lot more expensive then. I'll have to keep on top of ways that I can reduce the costs of textbooks. Here are a few from the article:

  • Use free sites such as where students are able to buy and sell used books directly from one another.

  • Consider purchasing textbooks online from used and discount textbook sellers, but remember to calculate shipping into their costs.

  • Before purchasing a textbook, be sure to check the ISBN number to make sure you're purchasing the correct book. Also, makes sure it's the correct edition.

  • Contact the professor to see if an older edition of the textbook is acceptable. Older editions will be a fraction of the cost.

  • Used textbooks are much cheaper than new books - typically 75% less than new college textbooks.

  • Find the which textbooks you need to purchase even before you head back to school. Many college bookstores post the required textbooks online for each course. If you wait until you return, any used textbooks (and their cheaper prices) will be long gone.
  • Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Birthday Savings

    For my first birthday, I got a lot of clothes and other gifts from friends and family. I also got to increase my college savings by an extra $100 as a gift from my uncle. He sat down and told me that he wouldn't be getting me gifts for my birthday, Christmas or other special events, but will always add a little bit to my college fund instead. Since I get a lot of great gifts from everyone else, I think this is a good strategy and will help make sure that the college fund is being looked after.

    I have been catching up on getting all my financial numbers in order. While I'm not quite done yet, I did learn that this site is now generating over $150 a month in income for me. If I can keep that pace for the next 17 years without any other income or interest, that will give me over $30,000 for my college fund. It goes to show how saving over a long period can add up to quite a bit, especially if you begin early.

    $100 for savings

    $100 for savings

    $100 for savings

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Let Me Eat Cake!

    The best part of any birthday party is getting to eat birthday cake! As you can see in the photos below, I had a great time digging into my birthday cake and must say I did a pretty good job of eating it on my own. I had even a better time eating it than keeping track of my finances (don't tell my uncle) so I'm showing this part of the day before going into the financial part of it. Wish you could have been there to eat cake with me (^_^)

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Margot eating cake - 1st birthday party

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Happy Birthday To Me!!

    Happy Birthday to me
    Happy Birthday to me
    Happy Birthday dear Margot
    Happy Birthday to me

    That's right, I've spent my first year on this earth. I'm no longer counting months and now can proudly say I'm a full year old. No more fractions. A full, round number.

    The best is to come this weekend when I'll have my birthday party with all kinds of friends and family. The plan is to have the birthday party in the park with BBQ and lots of cake (mom has been feeding me these organic cheerios with no sugar which I know are good for me, but you can bet I'll be diving into that cake!)I'll be sure to get lots of photos taken to share them with all of you.

    Now to get my first year financial totals in order to share...

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    If You Have The Will...

    Here is a wonderful story I came across that shows that if you want to go to college (or in this case, send your daughter to college) if you have the will and determination, there is a way to achieve it. While I'm planning ahead so that this won't be an issue when it's time for me to go to college (and encourage all of you to do the same), it's another example of how creativity and good old hard work can go a long way to get you where you want to go:

    Her daughter, Shewanda Dawn Russell, a 1991 graduate of Monessen High School, earned a scholarship to attend Spring Garden College in Philadelphia to study architecture, but was devastated when the school closed.

    Her daughter not only lost her scholarship but her credits as well, and Russell says to this day they still don't know what happened.

    A single mother, Cherie Russell welcomed her daughter back home, but contemplated how she could afford to send her to another college.

    So she recruited some friends, Ida Allums, Chris Jordan and Mary Hall, all of Monessen, to help her set up fundraisers. They sold everything "you could imagine" to send her daughter to Tuskegee University...

    It didn't stop there. The inspiration that the effort they put in to making sure her daughter went to college inspired others and it has now been turned into a non profit organization to help others wanting to attend college. It's a wonderful story that shows the possibilities when you are committed.

    It sure shows that putting away a bit of money now isn't near as difficult as many might make it out to be. I am happy that my parents chose my uncle to help out in this area - wouldn't it be nice if every adult would put the same effort toward a child to improve their future?

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    I Love Pasta!

    I like pasta! There is no doubt about that as you can see in this photo. While I do need some more practice in utensil use (I just don't see why everyone can't eat with their hands like me), I think I'll get the hang of it in the coming years. It's a good thing my finances won't be this messy when it's time for college.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    High School "A" Is A College "C"

    I know that I don't even know how to write yet (I can't even talk, although I do a great babble!), but I still found it interesting that an "A" high school paper is a "C" college paper. Along with having my finances in order, I'll also make sure to work on my writing...

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Consolidate Student Loans Now Or Pay A Lot

    If you haven't consolidated your Federal student loans yet, time to get off your diaper (okay, most of you reading aren't still in diapers, but you know what I mean) and get it taken care of. If you have procrastinated this long, it's becasue you think its a hassle, but that hassle will save you a few thousand dollars in interest charges and maybe a lot more - your deadline for getting it done is July 1.

    President Bush has also made it a bit easier for you to do so. The old law stated that you has to consolidate your federal student loans with the same entitiy where you received your original student loan and it was a pain for some to try and figure out where that was. As part of an emergency spending bill signed recently by President Bush, Federal student loans can be consolidated with any lender meaning you have one less excuse to get this taken care of right away..

    From Saving Advice:

    For example, Stafford loans will rise to 7.1% from the current 5.375%. Borrowers who consolidate loans they're already repaying can lock in this rate if they do so before July 1. For those that happen to be in their "grace period" (the six-month window between graduation and when they're required to start making payments on their student loans), they can lock in an interest rate of 4.75%.

    There are only a couple of weeks left, so put it on your calendar to get the process to consolidate those loans moving today.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Is Student Aid Really Shrinking?

    I came across this little news item that says that student aid shrinking is really a myth;

    According to the College Board, which reports annually on changes in student aid and college costs, aid has actually been growing – a lot! By the Board’s numbers, between the 1994-95 and 2004-05 academic years, total inflation-adjusted federal student aid more than doubled, from $44.5 billion to $90.1 billion.

    And that growth wasn’t only in loans, as student advocates often complain. Real Pell Grant funding rose from $7 billion to $13.1 billion, supplemental grants increased from $743 million to $771 million, work-study rose from $965 million to $1.2 billion, and federal tax benefits increased from nothing to more than $8 billion.

    In fairness, just because total federal aid grew doesn’t necessarily mean that aid per-student rose. Maybe State PIRG members and twenty-something agitators still have a legitimate point. Or maybe not: Again, according to College Board data, between 1994-95 and 2004-05 inflation-adjusted grant aid per student from both federal and other sources ballooned 51 percent, from $2,965 to $4,479, and overall aid rose 61 percent, from $6,261 to $10,119.

    Moreover, both grant and overall aid increases outpaced the growth in college costs.

    Whether student aid is shrinking or increasing, a lot of that aid is in the form of student loans which need to be repaid at some point in the future. That is why I'm getting these finances in order early so that I don't have to worry about the situation in either case - I hope that many of you will join me.

    Meeting With My Uncle

    I got to see my uncle for the first time in quite awhile. It was good to see him and he and my mom talked a bit about my college finances. It looks like they will be opening a couple more ING accounts with the money made going to my savings fund. That will be great since I earned quite a bit the last time I had an account opened.

    My uncle also too some photos of me so that everyone can see how I have grown. It's hard for me to believe I'll be a year old in less than a month.





    That last photo is me with mom. I look like a happy baby, don't I?

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Been Awhile

    Okay, it's been awhle since I have posted here, but my uncle is now back in the US and will be visiting me on a regular basis so there will be a lot more frequent updates and photos from now. This is exciting because i have lots of updates to talk about and now that he isn't moving and has settled down a bit, he'll have time to keep everyone up to date on my progress.

    I'm looking forward to my first year birthday coming up in July which should help pad my savings a bit more. I als have to update on the profits I've made the last couple of months which I will do soon.

    I'm still not talking, but am almost walking (^_^) - I stand myself up really well these days, but still need to balance against things to stay upright if I want to move around. It shouldn't be too much longer before I'm walking around on my own and then I really can get into all kinds of wonderful things.

    Now that my uncle is back, I'll also have a much better opportunity to make some move with my college savings and increase my finances since it will be much easier for all of us to talk together. This should be a great improvement for my net worth and get me better prepared for college (since it is now only a bit more than 17 year before I'll be heading off). Good things with lots of information to post in the coming days...

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Happy Mother's Day

    I just wanted to take a moment to wish my Mom a very Happy Mother's Day!!!! This is her first one and I have to say that if life continues the way it has this first year, I'm going to be one happy kid. For all the times I woke you when you were sleeping, for all the times I spit out my food, for all the times I was cranky and for all the times I was just plain fussy, thanks for being my Mom and still looking out for me. Wishing you a wonderful day and a big thank you for all you do (to all Moms out there!)


    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    Reasons Not To Go To College

    Now that I have gotten organized and started saving for college, comes up with five reasons why I shouldn't go to college that I should think about - this kind of throws a wrench into my well laid thoughts. Here are their five points:

  • Loss of 4 Years of Work
  • I Won't Necessarily Earn Less Money
  • I Could Probably Make More Money If I Invest My Tuition
  • A Classroom Isn't Needed To Learn Something
  • Plenty Of People Have Done Fine Without A College Education

    These are certainly points to consider. Since I am planning to have my full tuition in my savings by the time I am ready to enter college, the investing point is especially noteworthy to me. That being said, I also know at my tender age that college isn't only about school work, but also the social aspect and the opportunity to try new things.

    This is something I'll have to consider more as I get older and get a better idea of what I might like to do as a career.
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Will My Money Have To Last Until I'm 150?

    All the more reason for me to start saving at this early age. According to a report on the Today Show available on msn video, today's children may live up to 150 years old.

    While I think this is great, it means that my retirement funds will have to be a lot bigger than if I assumed I'd only live to 80. An interesting possibility for my little mind to ponder.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Some Numbers I Plan Not To be Part Of

    The problem about reading about college and costs is that the numbers can get pretty depressing and I like being a cheerful little one. So instead of dwelling on the numbers, I have been proactive in making sure I'm not a part of the numbers that can be so depressing (thus this little blog). This is what I found today

    According to "65.6 percent of students graduate with some debt." The median amount of debt owed once a student graduates is $17,120. Among graduating seniors, the average federal student loan debt is 19,202. Additional debt for graduate and professional degrees range from $27,000 to $114,000.

    Those are pretty depressing numbers even for a cheerful baby like me. it's just one more reason to make sure that you begin saving for college early which reminds me that I need to get my monthly numbers up - will be doing that soon.

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Even At My Age I Have to Worry About Identity Theft

    Boy, did my eyes pop wide open when I came across this bit of news. I figured at my age I had nothing to be worried about when it came to identity theft, but obviously I was wrong:

    When a mother decided to open a savings account for her 18-month-old son this month, she was stunned to learn that someone else had beaten her to it.

    Police say that a man with a record of identity fraud had taken the toddler's Social Security number and opened two accounts with Citizens Bank in Worcester and tried to obtain a Registry of Motor Vehicles identification card. By the time the boy's mother learned about the scam, the thief had deposited $19,000 in fraudulent checks, police said.

    That's just crazy!

    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Other Resources

    This is a page of other resources on the Internet that I and/or my uncle are involved with. As you can see, he is busy with a lot of projects, but they all do have a theme of saving money. there is a lot of quality information on them, so please visit and enjoy. You should be able to find a large number of ways to cut your costs and save more for yourself:

    By looking through the grocery coupon money saving guide you'll learn how to save hundreds of dollars every month with grocery coupons.

    Learn to garden without spending a lot at frugal gardening where you'll find tips and articles on ways to save money while still producing a wonderfully beautiful garden.

    Help charities with a click of you mouse at charity click donation where you can give a simple click to help donate money to a wide variety of charities with no cost to you (advertisers pay). Included are bulk donators that can save you a large amount of time.

    Most people don't realize the true cost of smoking which hurts your finances a lot more than the cost of the packs of cigarettes. These "hidden" costs include higher insurance rates, decreased value of assets, increased health care costs and reduced earning potential just to name a few.

    While people often focus on the problems that credit cards cause, there are also many credit card advantages which can be leveraged if you use them wisely. Find out how credit cards can be used to your advantage and earn you money instead of cost you money.

    If you need from basic to advance strategies on reducing debt, you can find it at Debt Reduction 101 which is a common sense guide to help you reduce your debt and get your personal finances in order.

    Hybrid cars are becoming more and more popular and many come with a hybrid car tax deduction or credit. Find the latest information on these tax deductions and credits which you can receive for purchasing a hybrid car.

    If you're looking for the latest I-Bond rate you can find it here along with other information about I-Bonds.

    Dating doesn't have to be expensive to be fun. Learning how to do inexpensive dating will leave you with great memories and some money in your pocket as well.

    While lawyers can be expensive, there are ways to find an inexpensive lawyer and to reduce the costs associated with hiring a lawyer.

    Dieting and investing have a lot in common and invest diet highlights these areas. Learn to approach dieting like you would investments and investing like you would dieting. Lose weight and become financially secure at the same time.


    For those who have paid off their debt and are looking to increase their wealth can visit the investing page where they'll find basic investing strategies to grow your money.

    While most people think of something else when they hear about National Condom Week, this site offers a way to protect yourself from debt with a free credit card condom.

    Get the latest information on new tax deductions to help you save the most on your taxes.

    If you want to make some extra money, take a look at some online auction hints that will help yuo maximize the amount of money you can make.

    People are often interested when they hear that it can be possible to get paid to drive with auto wraps. here is the truth about them and what you need to do to get paid to drive.

    If you can learn how to reduce college costs you can save a bundle on your education and even leave college debt free.

    With rising medical costs, one place that you can save a lot of money is by learning how to reduce prescription costs and where to easily find these discounts.

    One of the best ways to save money is to learn to do so by learning save money games so that you can save and have fun at the same time.

    If you are looking for the latest tax information, you can find it at tax press release so that you're always on top of what changes are taking place at the IRS.

    One of the worst investments you can make is to find yourself stuck in a timeshare trap and not know how to get out of it.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Carnival of Personal Finance #41

    Welcome to the 41st edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance. There is a wide variety of submissions this week and I'm certainly ready for a nap after going through all of them (and I didn't have to even read - something I still can't do - but just listen as they were being read). Still, it was worthwhile and will give you plenty of reading this week. Enjoy!


    Money and Values: Community Development Banking
    Quote: "I know it's not the absolute highest interest rate I could find, but it's a great balance for me personally. I'm happy knowing my money is having a positive social impact, and my savings are at least keeping a little ahead of inflation."

    Mapgirl's Fiscal Challenge: Guaranteed 6% Rate of Return?
    Quote: "It's participating in a social network of lending through the Korean community, called a 'geh'. Like the old Hibernian Banks and Building and Loan Societies of old, Korean folks raise capital through their social community networks."

    Budgeting / Frugality

    Thrifty Ray's Red to Black Journey: Whatever it Takes...
    Quote: "'whatever it takes' was a very scary territory for me. My family was used to a lifestyle of spending. How could I get them to change?

    No Credit Needed: How I Roll
    Quote: "Imagine that the checking account is a glass full of water, and the saving account is an empty glass of water. I "pour" a bit of the cash from the checking account, every day or two, into the savings account. This way, I still have convenient access to my money, and I can chose NOT to transfer any amount of money at anytime. I like my system..."

    Monkey Trouble: Since It's Been Discussed Elsewhere...
    Quote: "Budget. The dirty 6 letter word that everyone hates with a passion. I was talking about my loosely defined budget with someone the other day. Basically this is the deal. I *hate* budgets. Hate 'em. I have good reason for hating them."

    Flash's Saving Blog: Desperate Measures For Grocery Budgeting
    Quote: "It's difficult. It may seem cruel. It may seem impossible. But when you force yourself to make choices, you start managing your budget."

    Five Cent Nickel: Preparing For Our Moving Sale
    Quote: "After seeing just how much crap we have, we actually debated about scrapping the sale entirely, and just donating everything to charity ? after all, that would save us the pain of pricing it all. But we ultimately rallied (here again, ‘we’ should be interpreted as my lovely and talented wife) and now have a garage full of stuff that is mostly priced."

    Debt Hater: Paying Yourself First, For Real
    Quote: "When I budgeted what I "paid myself" it was really easy to simply change that when I ran low on cash. But if I never counted that money to begin with and knew I couldn't just transfer it out of savings, I'd be forced to be a lot smarter about my money."

    Common Room: Cost Versus Value
    Quote: "So we loaded that heavy thing on the truck (we moved ourselves), friends had to unload it (because we were stranded in a Midwestern state hoping the Headmaster would regain the use of his arm after the car accident en route), and we've never needed it, never will need it, and have no place for it. It would have been more cost effective to leave it behind."

    Boston Gal's Open Wallet: The Decisions Involved In Spending Money
    Quote: "As I mentioned in my post: My decor is more Sanford & Son less Martha Stewart, I really do struggle with this. I guess it comes down to - I want nice things, I just don't want to pay for them."

    2¢ Worth: Gadget Freebies
    Quote: "It isn't about comparing like to like. You have to compare it with what you're currently having - and whether there's a burning need to change the status quo."

    Career / Work

    Find A New Job: The Value Of A Vacation Week
    Quote: "No matter what people tell you, vacation time is negotiable, but some times it is not worth to negotiate it."

    Career Intensity Blog: Three Steps To A New Career
    Quote: "Managing your career is hard work. It is probably the most important thing you can do. If you do not take control of your career you will be subject to the never-ending cycle of unproductive performance reviews and less than thrilling salary increases. "

    Aridni: Today's Office Special: Free Money
    Quote: "Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing." Meanwhile, I'm still dreaming of that free money at my fingertips."

    Credit / Debt

    Pacesetter Mortgage Blog: Credit Bureaus Agree To Common Credit Scoring System
    Quote: "To this end, the three credit reporting agencies have just announced VantageScore. The VantageScore is a proprietary score, developed by the three credit reporting agencies, designed to compete directly with the FICO score."

    Ozarklad: Negotiating Down Credit Card Rates
    Quote: "On Saturday I received yet another offer of a loan from that bank, this time for 7.99%. So Monday morning I called again. This time the person ran through various questions, such as salary, rent vs. own, etc. She offered 19.99, which is much better than the others, but it's still in what I would consider a sub-prime rate. I accepted the new rate, because it is reduced 7.5%."

    Our Money Matters: Spot a Bad Credit Card Offer Without Reading It
    Quote: "If the offer is for a MasterCard or Visa and includes a fake credit card, the terms and conditions are always bad."

    Net Worth Blog: The Higher Yield Files: Valuing Leverage
    Quote: "It's pretty straightforward to calculate. Just line up your assets and the return you expect to generate from each, line up your liabilities and their respective costs. The difference in returns is your net return and that divided by your net worth is your return on (beginning) equity ("ROE")."

    Frank the Financially Savvy Atheist (The F.S.A.): How Credit Card Companies Make Money
    Quote: "This presents something of a quandary for the Credit Card companies. They don't necessarily want to tie up $1 trillion dollars worth of capital all the time. Even though they can charge interest rates in the 20%+ range, they're are other things that they want to do with their capital."

    Health / Medical

    Single Guy High Impact Saving: High Impact Savings My Way
    Quote: "You've probably heard that exercising is good for you, but you haven't really considered all the benefits (health and money wise) you can get from it."

    InsureBlog: What Price Cancer?
    Quote: "This paradox is what is confusing, even to those who seemingly understand the yin and yang of health care. One (drug) has low demand, so the price is inflated. The other (drug) has high demand, so the price is inflated."

    Hayek, MD: Welcome To The Jungle
    Quote: "Interpretation: Passing Health Savings Accounts legislation was like drafting children to fight in Vietnam or, wait for it, like Bush drafting children for his War in Iraq - did you see that sneeky sleight-of-hand?"


    Laws of Finance: Dollar Doomed? Diversify Abroad!
    Quote: "Basically, foreigners frantically ridding themselves of U.S. dollars and U.S. dollar denominated assets will send the dollar plunging. As I said before, asset prices will also plummet. So, your savings may not be as secure as you think it is if you have it in U.S. dollar denominated assets. This could lead to a rash of bankruptcies. Hmmm… Maybe I should look into bankruptcy law. I think there might be a killing to be made there in a few years."

    It's Just Money: ABCs of Mutual Fund Loads
    Quote: "One of the biggest problems is that the clever load funds vary the way that they charge you. This way, if you are looking for the front load, you may not find it, yet still get charged the same amount or more."

    Investing Guide: Vanguard Portfolio
    Quote: "I am thinking about tweaking the portfolio a little more, but I think this portfolio will do for now. Slice and dicing a portfolio seems like a lot of trouble, but at least it gives investors more control of their asset."

    Frugal Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Warehouse: Let's Play The Bird Flu Strategy Game!
    Quote: "The Bird Flu makes me wish there was some sort of a meat index. I hate having to buy individual stocks, but I see no other way to take advantage of this occurrence."

    Financial Reference: Expected Returns
    Quote: "The calculation that should be used is to value the company using a discounted cash flow analysis (whether it’s discounted dividends, free cash flow, etc.) to arrive at a current value for the company and it’s shares. You can then calculate a value for the company at any date in the future using the same assumptions you used in your initial calculation."

    Financial Options: Your Financial Roadmap for March 27-31, 2006
    Quote: "The earnings releases listed are companies I've chosen because of their industries, because of market capitalization (the size of the company), because they have local plants in my area or for various other reasons of general interest."

    Dividend Guy: Stock Analysis - My Approach with GE
    Quote: "The important thing to consider about the whole process (whether you are using a software package or not) is that the decision to buy a company is based totally on your interpretation of the data."

    Ask Uncle Bill: Market Psychology or The Wall Of Worry
    Quote: "So the market should go down because there are a lot of things to worry about. Guess what, there are always a lot of things to worry about and, in the past, a lot more worrisome things than those things listed above."

    Personal Finance

    Journey To Financial Freedom: Things You Must Do To Achieve Financial Freedom
    Quote: "Maybe because of my improvements or because I spend a lot of time with my mentor, suddenly I can see the other side of the world. A world of people who are financial free. This has really helped me so I can analyze and compare and finally I found that there are some things that my mentor always does that other people may take for granted."

    "D"igital Breakfast: Sun Tzu and the Art of Personal Finance (III)
    Quote: "As many of us knows, success in personal finance is derived from laying plans. I had a project manager once tell me to always remember the 6P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. So regardless of what you want to do in life and how you want your finances to turn out, if you don’t plan you plan to fail. Boy did I just cliche myself through this paragraph!"

    Adult ADD and Money: Reasons To Play The Lottery
    Quote: "Playing the lottery on a regular basis is a bad financial strategy. Statistically you will get a negative return for the money that you invest in playing the lottery. However if you just focused on these three reasons you might be inclined to make the lottery part of your investing portfolio."

    Real Estate / Mortgages

    Searchlight Crusade: Lenders Are All The Same
    Quote: "Just like Mohandas Gandhi and Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun were all human beings, lenders make money by lending money to people who want it. That's about the limit of the truth in that statement."

    Million Dollar Goal: An Introduction To FHA Loan Benefits
    Quote: "Many people, especially first-time buyers, use FHA loans because the qualifications are a bit more lenient and they can purchase a house with a 3-percent down payment. While it is possible to get a 3-percent down payment for a conventional loan -- and even zero-down loans -- interest rates are normally higher than with FHA-backed loans."

    Blueprint for Financial Prosperity: Do You Care About Housing Market Signs?
    Quote: "I believe the only place national stats matter is when you're talking mortgage loan rates and the housing market lags mortgage rates. The rates are going up, that's why housing sales are decreasing, it's not the other way around. So really, I don't think national stats matter at all when you're thinking about selling or buying a home...the local stats matter significantly more."

    Shopping / Buying

    Single Ma's Fabulous Financials: The Art Of Negotiating
    ...when buying a new(er) car

    Quote: " only works if you're not in desperate need for a car because the entire process takes time. Helpful Tip: Do NOT wait until your car leaves you stranded on the side of the road before deciding to replace it."

    Inchoate Random Abstractions: Appearances Can Be Deceiving
    Quote: "How well-dressed you are is one indicator of your status, and how much money you have to spend. Makes sense, right? But so not true! If any of you have read the Millionaire Next Door, you'll know what I'm talking about."

    Canadian Financial Stuff: Rant: Poor Customer Service
    Quote: "Moral of this rant, don't stand for being treated like cattle, or worse still vermin, when you are going to drop a couple of hundred dollars on any item. You are spending your hard earned money, make the sales people treat you well, to earn their commission (or whatever sales pay they receive)."

    A Geek's World: A Good Deal From Consumer Reports
    Quote: "I do not think I would recommend making a big buy without getting (Consumer Report's) opinion. At the very least you will find out the positives and negatives of what you are buying."


    Sitting Pretty: Getting Ahead At Tax Time
    Quote: "There isn’t any legal way out of paying taxes. So it’s best to just succumb to the inevitable and do your patriotic part. However, the law-abiding approach is going to leave you struggling like millions of other middle class Americans."

    Roth & Company Tax Update: You Made A deal With American Express: Here Comes The IRS
    Quote: "When you cut a deal on your credit card debt, put aside something for the tax man. They don't go for for the "I didn't get the 1099-C" ploy."

    Multiple Mentality: Random "Tax Refund" Rant
    Quote: "Admittedly, if there was no withholding, people wouldn't have enough money to pay their taxes because the preponderance of us (including myself) can't budget our money properly (hence the overabundance of credit card debt in this country), but I still find it unfair that we’re not allowed to create our own "income tax savings account" if we want to, have our money withheld in a bank of our own choosing, and then cut a check to the government in the first quarter of the next year."

    Mighty Bargain Hunter: When That Interest-Free Loan Gets Paid Back
    Quote: "When I saw the Liz Pulliam Weston article "7 smart ways to spend your tax refund" I saw the word "spend" and thought, "Oh great, just blow it on junk, why don't you!" But I was wrong in this assumption."

    Don't Mess With Taxes: The Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Taxes
    Quote: "Poor Ellen. She's learned a sad fact. Tax collectors the world over are insistent on accuracy. They also want substantiation. Among the things that got Ellen in trouble was trying to write off too many things as business expenses when in reality they had only a vague, quasi-legitimate connection to her job."

    Centrerion: How to Do Your Taxes Faster
    Quote: "On looseleaf, you should write things such as which sections will see the numbers increase or decrease. This means accidental errors will be caught before the end of the process (last year, I added 9K where I was supposed to substract... you can imagine my surprise when I finished and saw that I, a student, owed money to the government!)"

    Cap'n Arbyte's: It's Good to Doublecheck
    Quote: "As much as I detest knowing anything about taxes, in this instance I think my meager knowledge saved me from an audit. The IRS would know about those sales, but they weren't on my tax returns! As repellent as it is to waste my mental capacity with information about taxes, I think an audit would be even more horrible."

    Canadian Capitalist: Over Withholding
    Quote: "To find out how much the interest-free loan cost me, I ran a quick calculation: Let's say I am expecting a $6,000 refund on my taxes, which works out to $500 per month. I am also assuming that I can get a 5% risk-free, tax-free return by making a lump-sum prepayment on our mortgage. That works out to $216.45 in lost interest over a period of 15 months."

    Time Management

    Firevalt: Law of Lost Attention
    Quote: "Learning to focus my attention on the worthwhile will bring me the success I seek. In our day and age of mult-tasking, we divide our attention over many trivial things, and focus less on the things that will bring satisfaction and meaning."

    That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the reading. Next week’s Carnival of Personal Finance will be hosted at okdork and you can find out more information and the entire schedule at Consumerism Commentary

    Student Financial Literacy

    I know that I'm an early starter when it comes to saving money and I'm hoping that my example can help others become early starters too. When I read the news (okay, I still can't read, but you know what I mean) the numbers for students who understand about finances isn't too good. Here is some information I ran across today:

    In a survey conducted by Visa USA, 78 percent of parents said their high school student does not have a budget. And while 62 percent said they require their teens to save at least some of what they earn, more than half (57 percent) place no restrictions on how their children can spend the money they are given...

    A national survey conducted last year revealed that the nation's high school seniors scored an average of 52.3 percent when tested about their knowledge of personal finance concepts.

    The good news seems to be that more high schools are beginning to offer personal finance classes for the students. That seems to me to be once subject area where you can't go wrong in passing on knowledge. I hope to see more and more articles like the one above and see more parents learn that giving money to their children without also teaching them the responsibilities in how to use it is one of the biggest disservices they can do for them. (wow, I can already go off on a rant at this tender age...kind of scary what I'll be doing in a bit when I can talk)

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Personal Finance Classes In High School

    While I'm taking the quick route to learning about personal finances, there are still a lot of parents that don't teach. While I hope that since you are visiting here that you will begin teaching your child about money from a young age, I think that schools also need to do a better job (look at me, already critiquing the education system and I haven't even entered preschool let alone learned to walk). While personal finance education is still lacking to a huge degree, there are small signs of hope. I found this article about a school that is teaching personal finances:

    The Delaware Community School board feels a money management course is so important that the board will require students to take personal finance starting with the class of 2010. The course is now an elective, but because students have to take college preparatory courses the number of students who take the elective is low, Principal Greg Hinshaw said.

    I think that is a wonderful step in the right direction. The following quote summed up what is happening in many of our schools today:

    "Sometimes I feel like were preparing everyone to go to college, which is great, but those everyday things (basics like personal finance) are getting left behind."

    I hope that more school districts take on this attitude as being educated in personal finances could be worth even more than a college education if it keeps the person from making basic financial mistakes in their lifetime.

    College Costs Could Double By 2020

    Here's a piece that says that college costs could double by 2020 and that 529 Savings Plans aren't performing as well as most had hoped.

    See The Video

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Cost of College Calculator

    Here is a nice little calculator that will tell you the annual cost of any 4 year college in the USA:

    College Cost Finder Calculator

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Helping My Uncle Out -

    After having a discussion (well, I'm getting better at listening, but I still much prefer a rattle or my favorite toy waved in front of my face)with my uncle, I've decided to help him out with one of his new websites. It has just been placed up so it doesn't have an extensive amount of information at the moment, but I hope that with my help it will grow into a well-stocked site with hundreds of tips on how to reduce the expenses associated with college. The name of the site is Reduce College Costs and I plan to go through this journal over the weekend with him to pick out some more college money saving tips to add.

    If any of you have good tips that you have used or heard of, please leave them here in the comment section or send me an email so we can add to those already listed.

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Free Five 2-Liter Coke Bottles

    If you drink Coke or Coke products, here is another one that can save you some money. A big thanks to KarenSue for pointing this one out. Your chance to win 5 free 2-liter bottles of Coke - I tried it and already won 5 free bottles! (although I'm too young to get addicted to these yet, so I'll pass them onto my parents). If you drink these and win (you have 30 chances if you play daily since the contest ends on March 15) you can add the cost of the bottles to your college fund. I would say from the comments of those playing the game so far you will receive at least 5 bottles, and likely many more. Here's the explanation

    You don't need to buy the products - they will e-mail you free codes with which to play with. You can enter three times each day. The first day I tried I didn't win, but last night I won twice in a row! The participating products are all kinds of Coke, Dasani, Minute Maid Refreshment, Minute Maid Lite, and Nestea Cool.

    Here's how to do it. Go to the Coke website and click on the Enter Codes link. You'll need to register on the site, but you only have to do that once. Then look for a graphic at the bottom of the page that says "Where's my code?" Click on that link and after entering a security code, you will be emailed a free code. If you copy and paste the code from the e-mail to the contest site, you need to remove the two spaces in the code and add the last two code numbers. Any problems or questions, I'll be happy to help.

    Good luck and don't forget to donate to the college fund any savings!

    Free Smart Money Magazine

    I have mentioned a number of times that one way to build a college fund is to get things for free and place the amount you would have had to pay for it into a college fund. Here's another one you can do. You can get a free subscription to Smart Money magazine (my uncle enjoys reading it and finds some good money saving tips in it) - and if you find ways to save from the magazine, you can place the difference into your college fund. If you don't, you still get a free magazine with good personal finance articles at no cost (^_^). These promotions usually don't last long, so get it while you can.

    A New Name

    I will be moving sometime in the next few months - I'm not exactly sure when this will be as I'm not in a big hurry, but I will be sometime soon. Why do you ask? My uncle decided that instead of staying on a free site that I should get my own name. He tried very hard to get me, but the owner wasn't interested in selling the name. I'm learning young in life that you can't always get what you want.

    While you can't always get what you want, that doesn't mean you should sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Once it became clear that our number one name wasn't going to be available, we started talking about other names that might be appropriate. We finally decided on my uncle said that he would give me the name as a gift so it doesn't hurt my net worth. Now not only am I working on my finances, I feel like I'm a true Internet entrepreneur with my own domain name to come into service in the next few months.

    February Net Worth

    What a month will do. Not only can I crawl backward (which I was doing with acclaim last month), I can now crawl forward in a pretty impressive manner. Even better, I am way into textures these days. Boy, is it fun being a baby!

    First and foremost, I passed the magic $3000 net worth mark (woohoo!!!) with my current net worth now adding up to $3015.82. That is well below the 5% increase in net worth that I was shooting for, but was just over a 3% gain for the month.

    The best part of the gain was that most of it was from advertising - $80.37. $29.85 was a one time payment for three months, but about $50 is money that will continue to come on a monthly basis! If I can keep a minimum of $50 a month in advertising coming in, that will add up to more than $10,000 toward my college fund not counting any interest. I'm extremely happy with that development.

    I will still stick with my goal of increasing my net worth by 5% a month which would mean adding about $150 to my current total. So I will be shooting for $3165 by the end of March.

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    College & Credit Cards

    I came across this video about college students and credit cards that was made by a college student. It's a bit long, but it does have interviews with some college students about their thoughts on credit cards. The best line?

    "Get free stuff (for filling out credit card applications)and in return get a lifetime of debt"

    This is one more reason to teach your kids well about money management, personal finances and credit card use before they try and learn on their own.

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    Baby Calculator

    When it comes to having a baby, creating a financial plan and budgeting are a huge issue. A new survey from VISA finds that 76% of expectant parents considered themselves financially prepared without realizing what being financial prepared entailed. More than half of all new parents overspent on baby items. They also claimed that tension in their relationships created more stress for both parents.

    One of the most costly aspects of having a child was for the actual delivery. Over a quarter of new parents shelled out over $2000 out of their own pockets for the delivery.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that an average American family will spend $184,000 raising a child and this doesn't include college costs. There is a new Baby Budgeting Calculator that can help parents predict the true cost of raising a baby.

    Having a good financial plan and one that reflects reality is an important part of being able to put aside some extra money for your kids' education.

    Friday, February 17, 2006


    Today is my mom's birthday and I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy Birthday and to say how thankful I am to have been born into such a wonderful family. Even on my worst days when I'm cranking and crying, it's unbelievable how patient she is with me. I really do appreaciate that. I can't think of a better person to have as my mom. So here's to you, mom, hoping that you have a wonderful day!

    Happy birthday to you
    happy birthday to you
    Happy birthday dear mom
    Happy birthday to you!



    Moms With Babies - Another Sign-Up Link

    I expect that the pinecone research link below will expire fairly soon, but I found another specifically for moms with babies. Now, this is just an assumption on my part, but I'm guessing that a few of the visitors here fir that description. Here is the information:

    PineCone Research is ready to expand and we need your help.

    We have immediate openings for MOMS OF BABIES 12 MONTHS OF AGE OR YOUNGER.

    Do you know of households that meet this description that would like to join the PineCone Research Panel? If so, please FORWARD A COPY of this e-mail to each household you would like to refer so that they may click on the registration link shown below. That household should complete the registration form themselves and submit it. REMEMBER THAT ONLY ONE PERSON PER HOUSEHOLD MAY REGISTER.

    Multiple registrations of the same Household will void all registrations.

    Here is the link to the registration:

    Sign Up Here

    Remember to place any earnings in to the college fund!

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    New Sponsor

    Woo hoo! I'm a happy baby this morning (all smiles and giggles even without touching my nose - I like it when my parents do that). I just found out that I have another sponsor that has come aboard for 3 months and added $29.85 to my net worth. I hope that I can continue to find more that will be willing to sponsor to build the college fund. If I can keep a minimum of three sponsors (what I have now) at the current rates, that will add up to over $5500 by the time I'm ready to go to college. I like the sound of that (^_^)

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    How Parents Can Save Money With A New Baby

    I came across this article titled 32 Ways to Save Money When You Have A Baby over at What does saving have to do with investing for my college future? Well, if I can teach my parents to save money, maybe they will take a portion of the savings and donate that to my college fund. I'd much rather it go there than being spent on something that I could get for less.

    If you have a newborn, you're probably panicked too. No wonder: Depending on your spending habits and child-care needs, you'll likely shell out $7,000 to $14,600 annually between now and your little one's second birthday. But there's hope. Through trial and error, I learned a lot about raising a daughter on a budget. Now that my second girl is here, I've gotten even savvier. Here are ways you, too, can cut your baby expenses by half—or even more.

    Here is a summary of the ways you can save according to the article:

    At the hospital

    1. Say no to add-ons.
    2. Don't turn on the TV.
    3. Ask for coupons and samples.
    4. Take the toiletries.

    Budget Breastfeeding

    5. Nurse if you possibly can.
    6. Borrow a breast pump (**be sure to read comments**)
    7. Find out in advance where you can get free breastfeeding advice.
    8. Don't rush to buy a breastfeeding wardrobe.


    9. Don't buy baby clothes far in advance.
    10. Scrimp on all-in-ones.
    11. Choose unisex shades and styles.
    12. Lose the shoes.
    13. Buy secondhand special-occasion clothes.

    Baby gear

    14. Look for furniture and accessories that do double duty.
    15. Return unwanted gifts promptly.
    16. Don't buy crib pillows.
    17. Buy just one or two bottles before your baby is born.
    18. Set up a photo Website.
    19. When it comes to diapers, buy in bulk.
    20. Test-drive a stroller before you buy it.
    21. Turn to your local library for classes and games.
    22. Keep a baby-care bag in your car.

    Health Care

    23. Ask your pediatrician for free product samples.
    24. Call your pediatrician to talk over a problem before setting up an appointment.
    25. Don't buy an ear thermometer. .

    Baby Food

    26. Hold on to free formula samples and coupons.
    27. Sign up for baby-food company newsletters and coupon offers.
    28. Make some baby food.
    29. Package crunchy toddler snacks in individual airtight containers as soon as you buy them.

    Remember to place a little of any money you save into the college savings account!

    Pinecone Survey Link

    Hurry - They don't last long. if you're not familiar, Pinecone is one of the few survey sites that pays on a regular basis ($5 per survey), but it is very hard to find their links (you can't sign up on their main page, only through advertised links they change often)

    Take the money you earn from their surveys and put it into your college savings. Only one person per family can sign up and if you have a choice, have the man of the house do so (less men in their system means more surveys). Good luck!!

    Survey Link

    Right side: Top Live Surveys - last one "Pinecone Sign-up Link 1"

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Negotiation College Aid Is An Option

    I talked a bit about how prepaid college plans might be an option worth looking at again die to the recent changes in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 signed into law last week by President Bush.

    I came across an article titled A little help for families trying to pay college expenses which has some good basic information in it and some of the pros and cons with different college saving plans.

    Toward the end of the article is a great little piece of advice that I haven't seen often thus far when looking at ways to save money on college costs:

    A further option, Harrington says, is to negotiate a package with college-aid offices that includes tax-free loans and grants. "Too few people know that negotiating is an option," Harrington says.

    My uncle is big into negotiating and feels it is one of the best ways to keep your hard earned money so he perked up when he came across this little tidbit (and made me look at it twice even though I can't even read yet).

    Don't simply accept the college aid that is given, but go back and try to negotiate for more. The worst they can say is "no" and if you can negotiate a better deal, it could mean hundreds to thousands of dollars saved. I'm not remembering a lot yet, but that is one tip I will keep in my mind.

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    The Two Behind The Finances

    Here is a photo of my uncle and I in my early days (a few months ago). He's a pretty good guy and we share some memorable moments together including him being the first to almost drop me on my head shortly after the photo was taken. Luckily those years of basketball practice came in handy and the honor of that distinction couldn't officially be given to him.

    Me getting in the Xmas spirit. I even let my eyes turn a Xmas red and my hair is coming in a reddish blond. Of course, those have nothing to do with my finances which are not even close to being in the red (^_^)

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Kids and Saving Money

    I came across this article about the positive aspects of helping children to save money:

    When we give children the opportunity to experience for themselves what it means to save, to have goals for saving, to have their own savings account and to watch the amount of money in their account grow due to their decision (with encouragement and guidance from their parents) to save, they learn what it means to save and about delayed gratification.

    One of the most important lessons you will teach your children will be how to handle money. If you don't do it proactively, you'll do it by default by not teaching them the skills you wished that your parents and teachers had taught you (pretty deep thinking for a 6 month old, don't you think?)

    Don't only save for your children's education and college, but also involve them in it so they learn the importance themselves. I know my parents and uncle will be doing so.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Prepaid College Saving Programs Looking Better

    I'm trying to learn how to look on the bright side of all situations even when they don't seem to look very good. In that light, here is a little ray of sunshine in the new deficit reduction bill.

    The new deficit reduction bill that is waiting for President Bush to sign (he is expected to do so) has a lot of nasty little provisions that will increase the cost of borrowing money for college including cutting $12 billion from student loans and increasing and making fixed (they are currently variable) the current rate of Federal Stafford loans. Among these, however, is one provision that may help those going to college who select to save through prepaid college saving programs.

    Prepaid college saving programs allow you to lock in the current tuition rate for a college. There are 12 states that run these programs: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. There is also a consortium of some 250 private colleges (which include the colleges both my parents went to as well as my uncle) that run a prepaid program called Independent 529 college saving program. The program has been popular with parents that want to know the exact rate they will pay for college tuition and are afraid that college tuition will be beyond their means when their children are ready to attend college. There has been a big drawback, however, with how financial aid is calculated with these prepaid programs.

    The current problem is that money placed into the prepaid college saving programs is considered the student's money. Under the Federal formula for giving financial aid, this means that the aid available is reduced dollar for dollar with prepaid college savings plans. The new law, however, will treat prepaid college savings plans as they currently treat 529 college savings plans - the money invested in the plan will be considered the parent's money. Since the Federal aid formula for 529 college savings plans states that only 5.64% of the parent's assets should be counted toward college aid, this new designation makes the prepaid college savings plans look a lot more attractive.

    There continue to be a number of aspects to the prepaid college saving programs that it's necessary to understand in order to decide if this would be a good plan for your child. Most of the state run programs are restricted to residents living in that state and the tuition is only good toward colleges and universities within that state. Still, as soon as the bill becomes law, it will definitely be worth the time to take a closure look at these programs.