I’m Preparing To Send My 1st Child To College – White Mountain Partners

Having 4 kids, I felt like college was so far away. My first child is now in the beginning of all the college preparation paperwork. My hope is that by child 3 and 4 we should be pros at this.

Start Financial Planning Early With a Finance Expert Like White Mountain Partners

Years ago I started a 529 plan for my two oldest kids. Unfortunately things happened and it didn’t get too far. Now I’m seeking advice from every source possible. I’ve talked to my son’s guidance counselor, check out every financial aid and grant lead that comes my way, and attend every meeting the school offers. I wish I wouldn’t have dropped the ball on the 529 plan. Talking to a financial expert like White Mountain Partners could have eased some of this college financial worry. Here are some other ways to help prepare.

  • It’s helped me a lot talking to my son’s guidance counselor. She’s provided info, reassurance, and pointed me in the right direction for several questions.
  • Attending meetings, classes, and information sessions provided by my son’s high school. I attended a session to help fill out the FAFSA form. My middle son had the opportunity to earn college credits for one of his classes and we found out how to do that. SAT prep classes and more.
  • Attending college visit days. We have a few scheduled but our school’s guidance counselor highly recommended this. This, not only, can help your child make a better decision on where they feel comfortable but it gives parents and child the opportunity to ask burning questions and concerns.
  • Search for scholarships and grants. If your child knows what they want to do you can do searches specific to their major choice.
  • Talk to a financial expert like White Mountain Partners can help you find financial strategies to help finance your child’s education.

Pay Attention College Mailings

My son went to a college fair and put in for info on a few colleges. We’ve been receiving an endless stream of college mailings. We’ve received everything from simple post cards about college visit days (important) to full envelopes with applications in them. We’ve received at least one that had a special offer waving the application fee, 1 week decision, no essay requirement, and early consideration for financial assistance.

That’s one thing I didn’t think about in regard to college financials, it’s all the fees just to be able to get into a college.

  • application fees
  • SAT and ACT testing fees
  • money to travel to colleges
  • miscellaneous fees like an SAT approved scientific calculator that cost $90!
  • I’m sure there’s more I just haven’t run into it yet! That’s why financial people like White Mountain Partners can really help.

Once Your Child Is Accepted To College

Through my research, it seems that most scholarships and grants can only be applied for if you’ve been accepted into a place of higher education or are already in a college/university/technical school.

We’ve had a few bumps in the road with our process. My son is taking his SATs this Saturday. Then I’m hoping he’ll finally start filling out some college applications.

But What If My Kid Doesn’t Know What They Want To Do

I’m there. My son knew what he wanted to do his junior year. Now that he’s a senior he’s seemed to have lost interest in that idea. He has no clue what he wants to do and it’s stressing me out. But as much as it stresses me out I’m sure it’s nerve-racking for him too.

We’ve talked about the possibility of him going to the local community college to get his Gen Ed classes out of the way. That way we’re still making progress while he decides but we’re not dumping University money into something he’s not sure he wants to do.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links. Any opinions expressed are my own.


OnMyWay App Paying People For Driving Safe?

I’m all about a legit app that helps me earn some extra money. If there are other benefits to it, I’m definitely interested. A friend of mine posted on facebook about the OnMyWay app. But was it legit?

The site says it pays you 5 cents for every mile you drive without texting. Refer someone and earn 2 cents for every mile your referral drives without texting. When you sign up you immediately get $10 deposited into your account.

It didn’t require a lot of personal information to set up the account and it was pretty quick to set up. I was surprised when it seemed to track my driving miles fairly accurately.

I noticed that the cents were adding up pretty quickly and within a week I had over $20 in my account (counting the $10 starting deposit) That’s when I started to really question if this was for real. So I started looking through the OnMyWay app FAQs on how to get paid. You can input your paypal email or Venmo to received payments (no passwords) but it didn’t seem like I could just simply cash out the “money” I earned. After reading through the FAQ it seems I had to complete what they call “marathon deals” These are long term deals. There’s a $250 one that required 250 referrals. Then there was a $1000 one that required you to earn $10,000 in mile money/referrals and make at least 10 purchases. See the app also works like a cash back site. And the mileage money earned almost sounded more like “points” to me than actual cash.

I was a little disheartened by this but I also read that they were going to add short term marathon deals the next month. Surprisingly within a week the short term deals appeared with much more reasonable cash outs like $10, $50, etc. The catch on this one? There seems to be a limited number of rewards at a time. It seemed there were a lot of people able to cash in on the short term deals so that made made me feel better about it. You can see an example of one of the marathon deals in the screen shot below.

So in the end, I think it is legit I just feel they could do a better job communicating exactly how the rewards and app works. I think it’s a little misleading at face value.

I do think this could a nice incentive for teens to drive without texting with the knowledge there could be an earned reward for it. I think it would be a nice compliment for Uber or Lyft drivers to have the potential to earn a little extra on their fares or maybe even taxi drivers. So I will continue using the app. The app is free other than any cash back purchases you may want to make through the app but they’re not required.

If you’re interested in the On My Way app you can use my referral link and get $10 in your account just for signing up.


33 Million American Can’t Afford Winter Travel According to Wallethub

I dream about escaping the below freezing temperature of Pennsylvania in the winter. More so around February time frame. I get sick of the snow, ice, bad roads, layering, shoveling, short days, etc. There are a lot of factors that play into us not being able to do that though.

For us all 4 of our kids are in school so they would have to miss school. Then there is requesting time off from both our places of work and hoping both of use get approved. Add in the fact that we provide Christmas for 4 kids and the financial aspect is there too.

Travel is something my husband and I want to do closer to retirement. For now we just do a family vacation every other year, usually to a beach on the east coast.

Wallethub collected some states on winter travel. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 4% more people are planning to travel this winter than last winter, and 79% of them are planning to spend at least as much as last year.
     
  • 1 in 3 people don’t plan to travel this winter, and 38% of them – a total of 33 million people – say they can’t afford it.
     
  • Millennials are 6X more likely than baby boomers to apply for a new credit card to save on winter travel.
     
  • Weather and cost are the leading concerns for more than 8 in 10 winter holiday travelers.
     
  • Capital One Venture is the best credit card for winter travel because it has an initial bonus worth $500 in travel for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and gives at least double miles on all purchases.

Q&A with WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou

What do WalletHub’s survey results indicate about how confident consumers feel economically?

“The results of WalletHub’s Winter Travel Survey show reason for economic optimism in the sense that slightly more people are planning to travel this year than last year, and 79% of winter travelers say they’re going to spend at least as much as they did last year,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou. “When people are feeling strain financially, you generally don’t see travel increase.”

Why do you think so many people say they can’t afford to travel this winter?

“It should be no surprise that 33 million Americans say they can’t afford to travel this winter. Even though unemployment is near record lows and the stock market is near record highs, there are a lot of things weighing on consumers financially right now. For one thing, we’re racking up credit card debt at a pace reminiscent of the run-up to the Great Recession. Student debt clearly is a problem. And there’s a lot of political uncertainty,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou. “It’s also important to point out that people who recognize they can’t afford a big trip are doing the smart thing by staying home and saving up. Far too many people think a vacation is a necessity worth going into debt for.”

Is it worth paying an annual fee for a credit card in order to get better perks?

“It is worth paying an annual fee on a credit card if the card in question will save you more money at the end of the day, after factoring in the fee, than the best no-annual-fee alternative. Unfortunately, the results of WalletHub’s new survey show that only one-third of consumers seem to recognize that,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou. “You don’t want to pay for a card if you’re not going to get your money’s worth. But you don’t want to automatically rule out cards with annual fees, either. They can be worth the investment and then some. For example, the average person could earn more than $1,000 in net rewards value – after subtracting annual fees – with the best travel credit cards over just two years of use.”

Why are millennials so much more likely to apply for a credit card to get winter-travel savings than baby boomers?

“Most millennials have grown up in the age of free credit scores and reports, and online credit card comparison. So they may be a bit more comfortable applying for new credit cards, seeing their credit scores dip then recover, switching billing information for services they pay for with their cards, etc. Younger people also tend to be more cash-strapped than older folks, which makes them more inclined to look for savings opportunities,” said WalletHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou.

So do you do any winter travel? Do you have any winter travel plans this year?


Benefits of Talking to an Insurance Broker

I’ll be honest, up until a few months ago I didn’t even know what an insurance broker did. I honestly thought it would be more expensive to go through an insurance broker rather than dealing with a company directly. I thought they’d get some kind of big commission which would translate into extra fees on our insurance.

When we were getting ready to add our oldest son to our insurance and saw the crazy numbers that were coming up, we figured it couldn’t hurt to talk to an insurance broker. If we didn’t like what they had to say, well, we already had our insurance with the same company we have for many years. I’m so glad we took the time to do it.

We found out that the insurance company we were with for years is one of the most expensive ones out there and they can be beat by almost any insurance company out there.

We found out that if you have a pool or one of those big outdoor trampolines it can make your house insurance go up.

They told us that the smaller regional insurance companies can be a lot cheaper than the national companies because they’re not having to compensate for payouts for things like earthquakes in California, tornadoes in Kansas, or hurricanes in Florida.

We found out that while one company had amazing rates on car insurance they’re rates were actually worse on home owners insurance so our broker helped figure out the best company to go with as a whole for our needs.

In the end we ended up saving over $1000 a year on our car insurance even with adding a new driver and a used car with liability. I’m so glad we took the time to get the quote. It really paid off.

Speaking of insurance, check out this post I wrote for Bodwell’s blog on Insurance Fun Facts.


Finance Fun Facts For When You’re Bored

Have you ever sat around thinking about money and thought…I wonder what the most expensive dessert is? Or complained about the price of gas and wondered where the cheapest gas is? Well here are some fun finance facts you didn’t really need to know but we’re telling you anyway.

  1. Did you know that if you had invested $100 in Microsoft in 1986 it would be worth $46,400 today.
  2. Paper money is not made from regular paper but from cotton so which is one reason it doesn’t fall apart if you accidently wash that $5 bill you forgot about in your jeans pocket.
  3. Now I have you wondering what the most expensive dessert is right? Well according to financeonline.com it’s something called Strawberry Arnaud from Arnaud’s restaurant in New Orleans with a staggering price tag of $9.85 million! I mean who orders that?!
  4. Venezuela has the cheapest gas per gallon at only 2 cents per gallon.
  5. The estimated lifespan of a $1 bill is 5.8 years while a $50 bill has an estimated lifespan of 8.5 years according to the federal reserve website.
  6. John D Rockefeller was the world’s first billionaire.
  7. As of January 31, 2019 there is 1.7 Trillion dollars in circulation
  8. Every wonder if you’ll have a better chance of winner the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes if you purchase something through them? Well 80% off Publisher’s Clearinghouse $10 million in winner never purchased a magazine subscription.
  9. 7-11 convenience stores sell 10,000 pots of coffee every house, every day.
  10. The average cost of a wedding in the US is $33,391 yikes that’s a lot of debt to start your life together with!

Are you a fan of fun facts? Check out the post I did for Lenstolers blog with Jeep Fun Facts.