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


Beware of COVID-19 Scams: Utility Scammers

With COVID-19 comes a lot of new problems. Some we adjust to, some are temporary. I’ll never understand how scammers can do what they do to innocent people. Which is why I wanted to pass on this information I received from The National Consumer League (NCL).

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) has issued a warning today for consumers about a reported increase in scams by con artists posing as utility company representatives who are threatening to shut off subscribers’ power service if they don’t make an immediate payment.

The anatomy of the scam is highly consistent: a consumer receives a call from someone claiming to be with the electric utility company. The caller warns the consumer that their power is about to be shut off over an unpaid bill. The only way to avoid this is to pay up immediately, typically via wire transfer, gift card, or some other difficult-to-stop payment method. So what can we, as consumers do?

Such a call can be very scary—particularly for those who may need electricity to power medical devices or run their small business. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers are having trouble keeping up with their bills, which may make them even more vulnerable to this scam. And even for consumers who are confident they’ve paid their bill, the impending threat of a shut-off at the height of summer heat can cause a panic. 

To avoid becoming a victim, consumers should:

  • Not panic. According to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, electric utilities in all 50 states have placed moratoriums on disconnections during the COVID-19 crisis, either voluntarily or in response to government orders. If someone contacts you claiming that they’re about to shut-off your electricity, it’s a scam. 
  • Contact the power company. A utility will never initiate a disconnection without contacting you via the mail first. If you received a call from someone claiming they’re about to turn off your power, hang up and contact your electric company. Their toll-free phone number and website address is typically listed on your electric bill. 
  • Beware of unusual payment methods. Anyone who asks you to pay an overdue electric or other utility bill via wire transfer, gift card, bank-to-bank transfer, bitcoin, or any other unusual payment method is almost certainly trying to scam you. 
  • Not give out personal information. Utility imposters may offer to connect their victims to federal assistance programs or payment plans to help pay their overdue bills. They just need to “verify” the victim’s information. In reality, these scammers are trying to gather the information they need to steal your identity. If you suspect something is amiss, hang up and call your utility company directly. 

NCL asks consumers to share their stories by filing a complaint at Fraud.org via its secure online complaint form. Complaints are shared with NCL’s network of nearly 200 law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who can and do put fraudsters behind bars.

Scammers like these are everywhere. Knowledge is power. Please share this information with friends and family.

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.


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.


Ideas For Finding Staples During the Pandemic (And Maybe Save Money)

People from all walks of life and across the board like to save money on things they needs or want. Why pay full price if you don’t have to right? With this pandemic it was almost impossible to find some things for a while. Things like: cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable masks, and even common grocery items like chicken, hamburger, and toilet paper were scarce.

More recently while heading to the store it’s been a little relief to see toilet paper, chicken, hamburger, and occasionally cleaning wipes on the shelf. It’s not the selection it used to be and the shelves aren’t full like they used to be though. If I see cleaning wipes I’ll grab a container while I’m out.

Watching numbers rise all over the country and seeing some states back track on opening phases and starting schools online makes me wonder if another shutdown and possibly scarcity is in our future again in the next few months. But how do you save money on these things and get what you need without being greedy?

Here are some ways I’ve found to make sure my family of 6 is taken care of without financial hardship.

Chicken: Going directly to the source and/or buy in bulk. We have a little country store near us that offers bulk meat deals near us. Also a small family owned grocery store that periodically offers bulk meat deals. I just ordered a 40 lb case of boneless skinless chicken breast for $48! That’s only $1.20/lb The last time I ordered it was $39.99 for a 40 lb case! When I get it home I break it up into freezer bags with about 2 breast in each bag. That case will last my family of 6 for 2 month or more. More recently I read an article where chicken ownership has become more popular among homeowners. I know my sister got chickens. You get gets and chicken in that deal!

Hamburger: Again the bulk deals are great. Some of the same places offering bulk chicken deals will periodically offer bulk hamburger deals. Another idea: My husband and I went in with my in-laws on a 1/2 a cow from a local farm. We ended up with about 35 lbs of ground beef, tons of steaks, soup bones, and roasts for $400. That was about 2 months ago and I haven’t even gone through half the meat yet. I figure if it lasts us 6 months then it will have cost $60/mo for all that meat. But I have a feeling it will last longer than that. I’ll have to let you know.

Milk: Milk delivery has picked up. In fact, we now have a milkman and we don’t have to leave our house for milk, butter, ice cream, sour cream, and lots of other products. They are even selling frozen pizzas now for a small business. The prices are very reasonable and you get a bigger discount the more you order. Milk can also be frozen. You just have to take a cup of milk out of the container to allow for expansion.

Not everyone is on-board with this option but I honestly love coconut milk and almond milk. It lasts a lot longer in the fridge too. I’ve been buying Silk unsweetened coconut milk and it doesn’t expire for 2 months! Plus you can find sales on it as well as coupons from time to time.

Fruits/Veggies: It’s summer so it’s certainly easier to get your hands on items. With roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and home gardens. Growing your own fruits/veggies is a great way to save money though. Land isn’t even a necessity anymore with container gardening and so many in-home options. Things like Aerogarden and Click and Grow Smart Garden have been becoming more popular because you can grow fruits and veggies all year long in a compact space. My husband is all into gardening right now and is talking about setting lights up and stuff in the basement. This might have to be a Christmas idea for him.

Another thing to consider with veggies/fruits is trading with neighbors. One year I had a huge crop of zucchini. I was trying every zucchini recipe I had. I even shredded some to freezer for later. But still too many. I gave some to neighbors and coworkers. In return I got things like rhubarb, tomatoes, and green peppers. It worked out nicely.

Currently, with things becoming available, it seems almost every company is putting out some type of hand sanitizer. My suggestion is to buy an extra bottle now for safe keeping (please be considerate and don’t buy out stores!). I also buy one extra pack of toilet paper than I would normally buy just to keep stock or buy in bulk when I can.

If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries check out the article I linked to or search the term “save on groceries” in my search bar! I’ve done a few articles 🙂

Guys I’ve even recently started seeing deals on disposable face masks from reputable sites. Office Depot right now has a 50 ct box of disposable masks for $14.99 and free shipping. I ordered it myself and received it within 3 days!

The bottom line an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take advantage of the deals now. Stock up with what you NEED for your family but be considerate.