Why Join AARP Before Age 50? Here’s Why

There’s been a number of times when signing up for a service, buying tickets, or other times where I was asked if I was an AARP member. I kind of scoffed and said no. I’ll be honest I thought AARP was only for those 50+ yrs of age. I mean, at those times I was late 30s then 40. I couldn’t join AARP right? And, even if I did what would the benefit be to me? Turns out, I was wrong, I can join before I’m 50 and yes there are benefits to joining AARP before 50.

When did I really take a look at it. Well I’d say it was about April of this year. We were switching our cell phone carrier over to Consumer Cellular. They asked me if I was an AARP member. I said no. She said I only ask because we give a 5% discount off your monthly service for AARP members. I thought, she has my information. She can see that I’m not 50 yet right? So I go onto the AARP website and do a little more research and find out that yes I can join and yes I can get the 5% discount on my mobile bill. We already saved BIG by switching to Consumer Cellular (which is in another post I wrote) but an etra 5%? Why not? It was only $16/yr for AARP the cell phone saving alone would still save us $60/yr even after the membership was deducted. It pretty much paid for itself!

As I explored the site more I found they also have a rewards program. As you read articles on the site, complete exercises, link up my fitbit, and more I can earn reward points that can be cashed in for things like discount gift cards, enter sweepstakes, health assessments, and more.

You can also get local discounts. While they have national discounts like Consumer Cellular you can also search your local area code for discounts. I found 63 in my little area!

The articles on the site are very informative. I can honestly say I’ve learned a few things from reading the articles. There are also recipe and exercise videos that I enjoy trying. I’ve done several of the yoga videos.

Now not ALL benefits are available to people under 50 years of age. Certain benefits that apply to medicare or are strictly for senior citizens do not apply. I attempted to get a quote through the link on their site for life insurance but it said it was only available for those 50+ yrs of age.

Honestly though its so affordable at $16/yr. My cell plan savings made it worth it alone but I’ve gotten so much more out of it. You can even link your Exxon Mobil rewards to earn points. 20% discount on Allstate Roadside insurance, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) discounts, and so much more.

Ready to sign up? It’s easy to sign up. Join AARP here.

This post does contain affiliate links. I will get a small commission from registrations through my link. This does NOT affect the cost to you.

Steps To Take When Looking for Scholarships for College

I have 4 kids. My oldest of which is heading to college in the fall. It’s been a whirlwind experience trying to navigate the whole application process for college and for scholarships. Even though he’s already been accepted and we put money down already we’re still having to take more steps that need completed before he actually starts. Guys he has new student orientation on the 19th! He still has to do some kinds of counseling session in regard to his student loans he qualified for. The whole pandemic thing made this process a little weirder too.

When I thought of the whole scholarship process I thought of it as filling out scholarship application after scholarship application hoping to get just one. Don’t get me wrong, there still plenty you can apply for on your own but the one he got was already applied for when we filled out the FAFSA. Let me explain.

Every year before starting college until college is finished you need to fill out the FAFSA. It’s important to fill it out completely and honestly. This helps schools make decisions on awarding scholarships and financial aid (among other things).

My son actually got a decent yearly scholarship from his college thanks to the FAFSA. As long as he keeps his GPA decent he’ll have the scholarship all 4 years.

My son’s high school also had their own form to fill out for scholarships specific to his school and the area. Colleges will sometimes offers scholarship awards to high school graduates for specific majors too. This was one form to fill out to determine scholarships for many.

In both of these scenarios only one form was needed to throw his name in the hat for many scholarship opportunities. These are the two major things to do . But, it doesn’t have to stop there. You can seek out and apply for individual scholarships as well. There are scholarship specific to majors, hobbies, religion, heritage, geographic area and more.

The David Ebrahimzadeh scholarship, for example, is a scholarship to recognize students seeking a degree in real estate! They’re accepting applications now. So don’t discount your career path in regard to scholarship opportunities.

Also local businesses, clubs, and even your own workplace may offer scholarships. My son applied for a scholarship through my husband’s place of work.

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

A Surprising Alternative to Education Funding

A good friend of mine is an insurance agent. She happened to mention one day about using whole life insurance to help pay for college. My ears perked up. Wait, what? I can use whole life insurance to help pay for college. But why would I used that instead of loans, 529 plan, or any of the other options out there? Turns out there’s a few reasons. I was eager to learn more and thought maybe my readers would like to know more too. So, I asked her to write up this article. I’m so glad she did.

Providing protection to your loved ones is primarily what whole life insurance is known for, but gone are the days when it’s used solely for the death benefit. One surprising way that life insurance can be used is
to pay for higher education costs, specifically as an alternative to using a 529 plan. If you’re unfamiliar with what a 529 plan is, it’s a tax-advantaged investment vehicle in the U.S. designed to encourage saving for future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary. However, there are several disadvantages to a 529 plan. They vary from state to state and balances in a 529 plan may reduce your beneficiary’s ability to receive financial aid. Also, in the event that your beneficiary doesn’t want to
pursue higher education, the earnings may be subject to income tax plus a 10% penalty tax.

A whole life insurance policy can help you accomplish your college savings goals similar to a 529 plan and for some, an insurance policy may actually be a more suitable option because of the additional benefits, added flexibility, and guarantees not tied to the market. However, it’s best to use this option when the child is young, that way your policy can build up enough cash value to properly cover college expenses. You can also use what’s called an optional Paid-Up Additions (PUA) rider to significantly add
to the early build-up of cash values in your policy. While the two have similar contribution, accumulation, and distribution tax features, there are some differences between the two that might make whole life insurance a more suitable option for you:

Income tax-free college loans. You can use the accumulated cash value in your whole life policy to take out tax-free loans to help pay for college expenses without having to worry whether they’re qualified education expenses or not. If the time comes and your child decides not to pursue higher education, you could use this money for other things. For instance, you could use this money to help them purchase a vehicle, pay for living expenses if they choose to go out on their own, or pay for travel expenses so they could see the world.

Get guarantees without market volatility. A 529 plan likely has funds tied to market returns. While that can allow your college fund to grow over time, a down market could have the opposite effect. Imagine a downward spiraling market right before your child starts college. That would be a disaster. Alternatively, a whole life insurance policy provides you with guaranteed premiums along with a death benefit should the unthinkable happen and an accumulated cash value that won’t decrease based on the financial market performance.

Have options in case of disability. What if you became disabled while trying to build up savings for college education? No worries. With whole life, you have an optional waiver of premium rider to guarantee your college funding goals stay on track.

Benefit from savings that may not affect financial aid considerations. Unfortunately, a 529 plan is considered an asset by FAFSA. However, FAFSA financial aid guidelines currently don’t count your life insurance policy’s cash value as an asset, which means you could qualify for a higher
level of aid. (Note: Some colleges do view life insurance as an asset in determining financial aid).


Fund an education should the unthinkable happen. Life insurance provides an income tax-free benefit to your named beneficiary, which could in turn fund an education if they wished.

However, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you could afford it, a whole life policy could simply be used as a solution that supplements funds alongside your 529 plan contributions. If the grandparents are highly involved in your child’s life, you could even consider asking them if they’d like to start a 529 plan for your child (as currently 529 plans owned by grandparents or third parties generally do not affect
financial aid of beneficiaries under the current guidelines), while you start a whole life insurance policy. I encourage you to compare the two and talk to a financial professional to see if using whole life insurance is the right college savings solution for you.

If you’re ready to start with whole life insurance, get in touch with my friend Angie Bailey.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AFGBurgAngela/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-angie-bailey-b1545025/


*Disclosure: This article is not intended to provide investment, insurance, or tax advice. Please consult
your own tax advisors regarding the comparative tax benefits of 529 plans, as well as the potential taxation of distributions from both 529 plans and whole life insurance policies

The Value Of Timber On Your Land: FREE Resource

It’s not something I’ve put a lot of thought into. In hindsight, maybe I should have. We hired some arborists to cut down a few dead trees for us a couple years ago. We did keep the fallen timber to use in our fire pit and wood burning furnace. So, I guess we didn’t waste it. But we only live on about an acre. I know a number of people around us have acres of land with lots of trees or fallen timber.

Have you ever wondered about the value of the timber on your land? Penn State Extension has released the “Value of Standing Timber” publication. It helps land owners and loggers learn the economic value of standing timber and how it’s determined.

This 24-page publication describes methods for estimating timber volumes and values in a simple, easy to understand, manner. It will also help landowners and loggers understand how the value of timber is determined and, in turn, provide them with increased opportunities for obtaining a fair market price when selling timber, said Dave Jackson, extension forester and publication co-author.

The publication is available as a free downloadable PDF; printed copies are available for purchase. To learn more, visit https://extension.psu.edu/valuing-standing-timber or call 877-345-0691

I looked over this myself. It’s highly informative with helpful illustrations and tables. It covers a number of steps to take to prepare you for getting a good value for your standing timber. As well as information about how it’s valued at more. Education is the best way to make sure you’re not taken advantage of!

This is a great time to start preparing wood for the winter too. It needs to dry out for several weeks to a couple months to make good firewood. I know in my area, there are always people looking for firewood for small things like fire pits to necessities like heating their homes.

If you own wooded acreage in my area another way to make money off your land is to let hunters pay to hunt on your land. Hunter find it appealing as there is exclusivity to it. The land isn’t over-hunted.

About Penn State Extension

Penn State Extension is dedicated to translating scientific research into real-world applications to drive progress. In support of Penn State’s land-grant mission, extension programs serve individuals, businesses and communities, while promoting a vibrant food and fiber system, a clean environment, and a healthier population in Pennsylvania and beyond. With support from federal, state and county governments, the organization has a tradition of bringing unbiased information and support to the citizens of Pennsylvania for more than 100 years.

How Knowing Your Plants Can Save You Money

For way too many years, I took for granted the “weeds” that were growing in my yard. I thought they were good for nothing but making my yard look bad. Then after learning a common weed in my garden was actually edible (and not half bad) I wondered else I didn’t know about the weeds in my yard and garden. Turns out, it’s a lot.

It is important to note that you should NEVER consume plants/weeds that have been treated with weed killers or certain lawn products. If you’re not sure, it’s best not to consume it.

Just another weed in my yard?

A landscaping company posted a picture of a weed I commonly see in yard.

Crushed or chewed then placed over a bug bite, mosquito bite, bee sting, rash, or acne as a poultice and bandaged these plant is said to be able to help draw out toxins. Do a quick search and you’ll find several recipes for salves and balms using the broadleaf plantain. It’s said to be a digestive aid as well. B&D Landscaping’s facebook post has a wealth of information about this plant and uses.

Broadleaf plantain is also edible in salads or added to recipes.

That Sticky Plant

On another occasion, while harvesting raspberries from the wild raspberry bushes we have growing in our yard, I came across this invasive weed. It was so long and sticky. It was starting to wrap around the raspberries. I wondered what it was since it was touching some of the raspberries we were going to consume. Turns out this weed has many names: Clevers, sticky willy, coachweed, goosegrass, and a few other names.

Probably my favorite thing to learn about these was that you can make “coffee” with them. Cleaver is actually part of the coffee family. Yes, those little sticky, fuzzy berry looking things. You can pick them off, dry out, then roast them in the oven, then grind them up and make coffee. Be warned the process is time consuming. Picking all those stickly little berries off takes a while and you need a lot to brew a pot of coffee. I tried it though. It wasn’t half bad. The leaves and stems are edible as well and can be added to stir fries, salads, and soups.

Cleaver is said to have diuretic properties and has been used for kidney and urinary tract ailments.

People actually plant this one on purpose!

Purslane. This is the one I often saw growing in my gardens. Almost looks like a succulent to me. I found out that not only is Purslane edible but quite nutrient dense for a little plant containing antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, Potassium, and Manganese. Phew! Now that’s a hard working plant.

You can eat it raw by itself, mix it into your salad, or add it to your dish. You can easily find Purslane seeds and plants online. In fact, Purslane is commonly grown, on purpose, in many other countries.

The multitasker of the weed world

Dandelions, we all know them. Dandelion greens can be eaten. The petals can be turned into teas, wine, jams, or jellies. You can use the root for dandelion root coffee.

Dandelions are also said to have medicinal properties. A quick search will have you finding tinctures, tonics, and many other medicine cabinet ideas for dandelions.

The more I learn the more I realize the culinary adventures and medicine cabinet stocking I can do. And that saves me money! I’m also interested in learning more.

I love seeing companies like T1 payments that care. Donating to the South Florida Fairchild Botanic Gardens. I truly believe that there are so much more we need to learn about plants. There could be one out there that could be the cure for an illness, or an affordable option to help stop hunger.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links.