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.