Dreaming for Others

Reading Meg Meekers, Boys Should Be Boys, I started to reacquaint myself with my youth. I want more than anything to represent a man for my boys to resemble and replicate. In order for me to do that I must continuously grow through faith, family, education, and work.

grandparents-1969824_1280As my wife and I dream about our future, we regularly discuss our children’s future families and our future grandchildren. We also discuss our sacrifices for their education and continuous intentional money decisions that all of our children see everyday. We regularly discuss with our children our dreams and where we want to be as a family. We intentionally discuss our path and dreams for them and why our decisions affect and shape our family and all of our lives. We talk to our children about their dreams. This is important because we want to hear their intentions and goals. We want them to grow and develop their dreams.Depending on their age we have gone as far as making a plan to attain future dreams (such as starting their own business or what they want to do when they get older) or just helping them with ideas. Each child is different and graduation-907565_1280allowing them to talk about these dreams makes them smile which makes us smile and enables us to include their dreams in ours.

I want to press the need to dream for others and that was why I started with our children. We can all accept that we want more and better for our children. It is parental instinct, I believe, to only want to push them for their best and beat ourselves up for every little thing we forget to show or help them with. Dream for the possibilities that they may have and that we can provide them through our teachings.

Dream for your friends and family. Dream that they can reach the potential and get everything that they dream of. We can always dream for ourselves or friends or even family but I urge you to dream for the people around you. Maybe dream for that person that just bumped into you and didn’t say excuse me. Dream for that person that cut you off on your way to work as you were running late already.

When we find ourselves dreaming for others we somehow fall into our dreams. When we dream for others it does something to us and we become less concerned with just us and want more for everyone else. If we are able to allow ourselves to dream not just for ourselves but to dream for others, we allow ourselves to reprioritize what is important. It is not important to have the biggest dreams but it is important that our dreams are vivid and as we intentionally dream for others we will intentionally grow into ours.

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charlesheadshotCharles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.

 

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Dare to Dream – Week 1

Too often people think they are not able to retire and may have starting actually planning too late. Nathan talks about how people in their 40s and 50s should not give up and the struggles that come with being post pensioners and prior to the tech era. Great Post we have enjoyed being part of this journey. Enjoy

“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”

-C.S. Lewis

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Start to Dream

moon-landing-60582_1920As a child we dream about the future, about becoming a a firefighter or an astronaut. As we get older into our teens, our dreams turn more superficial. Teens start to think about cars and making their own money and how they can buy the things they dream about.

Through the years and generations, dreams have become different as we get older. The monetary dreams have moved from more realistic dreams that are within our lifestyles to larger-than-life dreams that are extravagant and financed with debt and a new credit card.

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How to Get Back on Track After the Holidays

If you are anything like my wife and I, you may have let the holiday spirit run free and possibly got off track with your finances. It’s okay to intentionally let go of the handlebars bicycle-1279907_1920and coast on rare occasions, but we never want to completely lose control. If you missed our blog for letting go you can find it here.

 

Now that the holidays are over, we want to recover and set ourselves back on track to success. Just like when you let go of your handlebars while riding your bike and go to regain control, we don’t want any sudden movements or adjustments. Don’t go to regain control of your finances and over correct. Don’t come and look at the budget and say, “Oh well, I guess we can’t buy food this month because we bought Grandma Bette those bottles of Italian wine” or “Hey little Johnny, you got all the toys you asked for so now you have to go work in a sweatshop down the street to make up for it.” We want to intentionally take back control and assess where we may have allowed some slippage.

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“Look Ma! No Hands!” How to Temporarily Let Go of the Handlebars

With all of the holidays, it is easy to focus on just the season and giving and to forget about all other plans. I want to give you permission to put things on autopilot while you deal with the holidays. Yes, that is right: you can have an autopilot schedule for your finances during hectic times.

Does this sounds too good to be true? Who would say to have an autopilot for finances? When we think about the absurdity of this, it is a little hard to grasp. However, for most of us, having our finances on autopilot is how we handled our finances before we started taking control and being in charge of our finances with a budget. BUT just like riding a bike, you can, momentarily, strategically take your hands off the handlebars without crashing.

bicycling-1160860_1280While controlling your finances there will be times where everything just takes over and you may forget something. This is when you take another look at your monthly budget and adjust. Or maybe some things came up that weren’t really planned for, but you still have a sinking fund for, so there is no need for concern.

During the holidays there are always surprises, whether that be gifts under the tree or family and friends showing up or inviting you over to share in holiday cheer. The holidays are for spending time with family and friends and not the time to be stressing over every penny in the budget.

Now don’t jump out of one ditch and into another. This does not mean blow the budget! What it does mean is you are in control and have been doing great so allow the budget to work for you. Just like you do with the bike allow the momentum and wisdom you have learned over the past couple of weeks or months to give you the confidence you need to take your hands off and have a controlled moment of autopilot. And just like when you regrab the handle bars on your bike, there will most likely be a slight correction needed, so street-962796_1920prepare for that.

But don’t get too excited because, unfortunately, this cannot be for everyone. Just like with our children, I would not recommend to my two year old, who is new to a bike, to ride without hands. So, if you are new to a budget and still learning how to control your finances, don’t let go. You need to keep control of your finances through the holidays and maybe if your momentum slows just a bit, that is fine. The biggest thing is don’t lose momentum all together. And definitely don’t allow yourself to go backwards. All of those deals, stores handing out credit cards like candy, can be very tempting. Don’t fall for it. Keep your hands on the handle bars, keep your budget fresh on your mind, but know that a budget is a learning process.

 I really hope no matter where you are in your journey, that you realize that its not going to be easy. You will fall, you will scrape your knees, but the important thing is to get up, wipe it off, and keep pushing. Strategically place people around you that will keep you accountable, offering encouragement when you fall, and cheering you on when you make a win.

DW and I sat down with a family recently. We were helping them get ahold of their finances. Now, this couple was going through Financial Peace University and were sold into making a change.

The hardest decision to make is the decision to change.

We were just there to help them wrangle everything in, to offer support and accountability. We went through and put all of their information into a CAM Workbook for them. It was obvious through talking to them and presenting the information that change was needed and the question was just how much change were they going to commit to. We did a budget together. They did a budget multiple times before committing and signing to the change. Everything looked great. The first day on their budget one of them forget their lunch at home and some coworkers wanted to go to lunch. They fell off the bike and went to lunch. Later that evening they were going to buy groceries (and following the cash system they had pulled cash out so they could feel their spending) and the money was lost. This wasn’t just falling off, this felt like being pushed straight into a thorn bush and crashing off the bike.

Many people would have just quit here. They didn’t. They had fully and irrevocably bought into change. In fact, since our meeting they have made more progress than they had committed to on paper in our home that night. They didn’t let the nicks and scrapes or battle scars of a new decision keep them down.

And for those of you new to a budget I want you to use that story of perseverance to hold on through the holidays. For those readers not on a budget or wanting accountability partners please reach out to us. We are here to help and want to help everyone to be able to take your hands off the handle bars.

charlesheadshotCharles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.

How to Host a Christmas Party on a Budget

Guest post by my amazing wife, Amber Moore.

 

I cannot even express how much I love this time of year. No, I don’t enjoy the cold, or even the snow, and I absolutely detest trying to do the whole Black Friday shopping experience. BUT I love the holidays, and Christmas to be more specific. You can’t help but to just feel so grateful for everything during this time, knowing that you were special enough that God was willing to let his son die for you. *Deep breath* So amazing.

I also have a natural giving spirit. I love to find amazing gifts for everyone I know: family, friends, colleagues, the mailman, teachers, etc. I get joy from knowing someone else might feel a little bit of joy from my gift. It’s kind of like a pay-it-forward: God gave me the gift of life and thus gave me joy, now its my turn to pay that joy forward to others.

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But if you are going through a financial fight, Christmas might seem more stressful to you. Especially if you had already volunteered to host a Christmas Party during the holiday season. Even if its just dinner, a holiday party’s expenses can quickly add up. Don’t panic! I’m going to give you some advice on how you can host a great party and not break your budget!

5 Tips for Hosting a Great Christmas Party without Breaking the Budget

Ok, so first let me say that I hope you aren’t the type of person who just would volunteer to do something like this on a whim the week before you hold it. At least not while you are keeping things tight to pay off debt or build an emergency fund. You need to give yourself a little bit of time to plan.

  1. Shop Cheap. You do not have to go out and buy a brand new set of hand-made, hand-painted china. Go to Dollar Tree and buy red and green paper plates and plastic wear. You could even look at Oriental Trading for some cheap, great finds. Look to Craigslist, Ebay, or Facebook Marketplace for things like a karaoke machine or a Santa Suit. Don’t forget to search the newspaper and online for any coupons you can use.
  2. DJ’s are a do not. You can create a playlist to include all the Christmas carols and line santa-hat-1115148_1920dances that get people up and dancing. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on a DJ.
  3. Cook It Yourself. You will save hundreds of dollars by making the food in-house rather than having it catered in. Use the shop cheap stores I listed above to find a couple extra crockpots -> that will give you the ability to cook more without a whole lot of extra effort.
  4. Make it a Potluck. Ask the attendees to bring a dish or dessert (or even drinks) to pass around. This will take some of the weight off of you.
  5. welcome-drink-1071956_1920Provide the mixers. Purchase some cheap 2-liter bottles of gingerale, sprite, coke and Dr. Pepper as well as some seltzer water and tomato juice. These can be used alone as refreshments or as mixers. Let guests know if they would like an alcoholic drink, that you will provide the mixers but they will need to bring their drink of choice (beer, liquor, wine, etc.).

 

I hope these tips were useful, but the biggest thing I hope you take away is that you quit trying to impress anyone except God. The only thing you should be trying to do is sharing the gift of joy that he gave to you with those you love.

I hope you all have a very, Merry Christmas! and I hope you all throw some amazing parties 🙂

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img_6400As someone who always made people ask, “How does she do it?”, I had to learn how to fit more into my day without completely losing my mind. Now I’m excited to share how I did that and what I’ve learned with everyone else. I just want to see people able to live the life they want, doing the things they want, without the stress they think is normal. I want everyone to experience Peace of Time.

Creating a Battle Plan for the Christmas Debt War

GUEST POST BY MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE: AMBER MOORE.

I’m not sure when things changed for society. At one time, Christmas truly was solely cross-1149878_1920about celebrating the birth of the one that would save all of mankind from damnation to hell (if they wanted it). Now, it’s not Christmas unless on December 25th, the tree is surrounding by truckloads (no joke) of shiny, brand-new, expensive toys.

I don’t think gifting your 5-year old with 43 new hot wheels cars is going to help him to understand the significance of the holidays and, more than likely, you really can’t afford to be giving him all of that either. Many people today live pay check to pay check. The majority of Americans plan on spending more than $800 for Christmas gifts and, according to the Consumer Federation of America, less than 1% of Americans with accounts a Credit Union hold a Christmas savings account. Now I realize that they could have a traditional savings account or even a change jar for this, but I still think that it gives a good overview of how unprepared we are when the holidays roll around.

I’m sure more than that intend to be better prepared; it’s probably a pretty popular New Year’s resolution: to save for Christmas. But that’s the problem with New Year’s resolutions, they are usually very vague and you make them to yourself so that there isn’t any real accountability. That way if you fail, oh well. In this case, when you fail to save, or if you save and maybe don’t have an savings fund built up, you use those funds for one of life’s many emergencies that come up. Well, what then? Thanksgiving is almost here, you have no money in savings, you absolutely have to give your kid truckloads of brand new toys, and so you must shop Black Friday for the awesome deals. So, what happens? You bust out your credit card, or sign up for a new one, or take out a personal loan at your bank, or, the worst, you take out a payday loan. Then you pay hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars of interest so that $830 you spent turns into $1900 by the time, if ever, you get it paid off. AND you start your New Year with more debt.

I know you are reading this thinking, “I do not want that to be me again, something needs to change!” You are so right, but where do you start?

Let’s make 2017 the year you follow through, at least on your Christmas savings (can’t help you with the 10 lbs off the midsection)!!!neujahr2017-1753894_1280

Here’s your surefire plan to avoid Mr. Christmas debt, start your next New Year without him following you around all year, so the next Christmas you can spend that $800 (or more if you want) without guilt or shame and no interest!

1 – Use strong words in your goals.

No more of this, “I plan on saving for Christmas in 2016.” First of all, saying you have a plan is not a plan, its a weak intention. Say things like “I will save $950 for Christmas this year.” Tip: Use this with any “New Year’s Resolution” you plan on making.

2 – Lay out a detailed plan.

checklist-1817926_1280It’s not enough to say you are going to save, you need to also detail exactly how much you will save and by what date. To figure this out you will want to create a “Christmas Budget” (this is Christmas Debt’s ultimate foe). Make a list of all the people you want to buy for, or at least those who made it on your nice list. Then come up with an amount to spend on that person. Here’s an example:

A – Spouse         $50

B – Kids (x 3)     $100/$300

C – Grandparents (x 4) $30/$120

D – Siblings (x 3) $20/$60

E – Nieces/Nephews (x 4) $20/$80

F – Colleagues/Friends/Teachers (x 6) $15/$90

Total: $700

Now you know you need to save $700. Now decide when you want the funds. Your first thought might be December, right? Well, no, especially if you enjoy venturing out into the madness of Black Friday. So you would have 10.5 months or 23 pay checks (most likely) to come up with $700. So, using a little bit of elementary math you can figure out that you need to be saving approximately $70 per month (you can round up a little to account for tax or shipping charges) or $35 per pay check (if you are paid bi-weekly). So, you need to add a “Christmas Fund” line item to your January budget for $70 per month.

3 – Have a dedicated savings account for your Christmas fund.

This doesn’t mean you can’t put other sinking funds in this savings account as well, but it would probably help if it were separate. Many credit unions offer a special fund just for Christmas funds that you deposit into every month and it auto transfers to your regular account in October or November.

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If you keep your Christmas savings in your checking account, its too easy to spend. The minute you realize you forgot to budget for Sally’s dance recital costume, you see that $210 sitting there for Christmas and think, “I’ll just borrow out of this real quick and pay it back next month.” Guess what doesn’t happen next month? You don’t pay it back because there are other expenses that you have to add into the budget or you forget all together. So, please do not leave your Christmas fund in your checking account.

We currently have many sinking funds going into 1 savings account and while it works for us, it only does because I am meticulous in updating totals on a spreadsheet (<- nerd here) every time a deposit or withdrawal is made so that I never mix funds. A lot of people don’t have or want to spend that kind of time on that and so eventually they have $3000 in their savings accounts but are a little unsure of exactly how much of that is for what. So they go to fix their car thinking they have $400 in their car repair fund and end up spending Jonny’s Christmas fund. Oops! It usually is fairly simple to set up extra savings accounts, even if your bank doesn’t offer a specialize Christmas one. Its better to do this and just leave it strictly for Christmas.

4 – Now that you have your Christmas fund figured out, forget about it!

You have your savings account set up, and your budget started, you can start an auto-transfer from your check to that savings account. Then, forget about it. Don’t try to borrow from it throughout the year. Don’t go in and change your auto-transfer or your budgeted amount. Leave it alone. Let your plan go to work.

“But CAM! What if I find this super-amazing, can’t-resist, must-buy deal let’s say in christmas-tree-1081826April, can’t I pull out the money then?” I’m going to say “no”. It starts you down a very dangerous path. You end up giving that toy to a niece or nephew whose birthday you forgot, or little Cori finds the baby doll in your closet so you just give it to her, or the dog finds it and makes it his new chew toy. Now you are out a toy and out the funds in your Christmas account. You have a budgeted amount which means you would have to take amounts from one place (maybe siblings) and put back in Cori’s. I like to shop at garage sales and thrift stores and throughout the year I find things to give to people for Christmas. I have a separate line item in my budget for garage sales, so if there’s money in that envelope I can buy whatever the super-amazing deal is and try to hide the gift as best as possible. If there’s not money in there, then I pass and wait until I do have the funds.

If you come up to Black Friday and realize that little Cori already has a closet full of Christmas presents and you don’t need to buy her anything extra, then you can choose to do whatever you like with the amount you budgeted for her. Maybe pay off a debt, or add to your family’s emergency fund, or even use it to bless someone in need around the holidays.

5 – You made a spending plan, stick to it!

This is the hardest part, second only to keeping the budgeted amount going in every month. You made a budget and set amounts for everyone, but that Black Friday rolls around and while you are waiting in line for the Hatchimal, you notice that their blenders are only $12! “What? Aunt Susie would love that blender!” And then there’s the cheap pajamas, and all the other toys and kitchen items, and electronics filling the middle aisles just waiting for you to pluck them and place them into your cart. By the time you make it shopping-mall-522619to the cash register, you have $400 worth of items and realize thats only for 3 people on your list.

I know how hard it is to walk by a super-good, amazing deal and not to take advantage of it. So, plan out your shopping trip. Decide exactly what you are going to buy, for who, from what store. Look at all of the extra things they will have out so you know what you will see when you get there. If you decide that you really want to take advantage of some of the kitchen items deals for yourself while your there, that’s fine, just make sure you have the cash funds available in your budget for household items. By knowing exactly what you will see and what of that you are going to buy will help you stick to the spending plan you made in January. Now, I realize things happen and you might want or need to adjust your spending plan before heading out, thats fine, as long as it is a detailed battle plan.

So, here’s a summary:

1 – Set your goals using strong words: will, am, etc.

2 – Lay out a detailed “Christmas” plan: how much to save, by when, and for who.

3 – Have a dedicated savings account for your Christmas fund.

4 – Leave the savings account alone all year long.

5 – You made a spending plan, so when you go shopping, stick to it!

Just remember, Christmas is not about loading people up with new “stuff”, its about being with family to celebrate the fact that we are alive, living with purpose, because God was gracious enough to send his only child to save this world. Debt will not get you closer to feeling God’s peace: only prayer, worship, evangelism and fellowship will do that.

img_6400As someone who always made people ask, “How does she do it?”, I had to learn how to fit more into my day without completely losing my mind. Now I’m excited to share how I did that and what I’ve learned with everyone else. I just want to see people able to live the life they want, doing the things they want, without the stress they think is normal. I want everyone to experience Peace of Time.

 

High Schoolers: 3 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for College

So for the past few weeks we have written about Planning for College, Saving for College, and Talking to Your Child About College. This week I wanted to take a slightly approach. Today’s message is directed right at you, high school students, and what you can do to prepare for college.

First, understand that college needs to be a part of a plan and that plan requires work and decision making prior to execution. This does not mean it is all work though. Most high schools will allow juniors and seniors to have days off to go visit college campuses. Talk with your parents and do some research to figure out what schools you (not your friends) are interested in and then make a plan to take advantage of those days off of school to go visit the campuses.

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Second, adapt and let your plan grow. As you talk to your parents and advisors don’t feel stuck to your first decisions. This plan is something that will change and evolve with the information and knowledge you gain through the planning process. However, the planning process needs to have a solid foundation before you leave high school and head to college. Making changes and decisions at the last minute will only throw you off your path and will likely have many undesired consequences.

When I was 18 and had just graduated high school (in itself a miracle), my best friend and I went on a road trip for the summer. As summer was coming to an end, it was clear I had no idea what was next but I did know I wanted to go to college. I ended up at an out of state school where I was paying $10,000 per semester. Now, I didn’t have money saved up nor did I have any clue how I was going to pay for school. I remember going to the registrar multiple times and the answer was either sign here or call this number. Something told me while doing this that I was responsible for the money but in reality it was just easier to money-652560_1280just keep signing and postponing. Never seeing the final numbers or the building pile of debt, I just kept signing and making the phone calls. I, like many others, left that school with no degree and a mountain of debt. I started to receive calls on for payments on that debt shortly after I left school. This could have all been avoided. I DID NOT HAVE A PLAN. Had I made a plan and knew where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and how I was going to pay for it, I would’ve save myself a lot of stress, debt, and time.

Third, listen and talk to others. As young adults you will have many people who tell you to do one thing or another. After a lifetime of having to do things everyone says might make you want to completely disregard any good advice you get. I understand the desire to claim independence and to make an adult decision because that is exactly how I felt. What I do wish I did was talk to people who have the experience and knowledge of the process I was looking for. Ask for advice and information. Ask all the advisors and mentors you have sunflower-834999_1920access to to give you some good life advise. Show them your plans and ask them for help filling in any holes that you are unsure of or missing. The Bible says that in the multitude of council there is wisdom. I pray that you seek this wisdom and are able to sift through all the advice you receive. There are always people willing to talk but is up to you and your close partners helping you plan ( hopefully your parents ) to understand what advice fits into your plan.

My dad used to say “Sun, do you know why I call you sun? Because one day you will be bright. “

This wasn’t to knock me down or say I wasn’t bright now, but he was letting me know that there was still so much ahead of me to learn. We are all at different stages in all of our journeys (whether that be with Christ, our children, or even our finances). So we must continue to seek guidance in all areas not just when we are young, and in turn we must also provide council to those around us that allow us to be part of their journeys.

This wraps up the college series. I hope all readers have been able to gain something from this.

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Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.

When Should I Talk to My Child about College?

When should we start talking about college to our children? Is Jr. High too soon? What should I say?

As parents we deliberately do many things when we care for our children: make sure they don’t touch the hot stove, teach them principles and values to live by, allow them to make mistakes that we carefully calculate the outcomes of to ensure they learn from but don’t get too hurt by. College planning and finances should be just as calculated decisions that parents and children make together. Unfortunately money and many areas surrounding money (such as the expense of higher education) are viewed almost as taboo and are whispered and not spoken of intentionally. Money is not taboo and money should not be an obstacle or challenge, it should be the enabler of all the things you wish to do.

Many families do discuss college but the reverse planning and discussions start later than they need to. Let us do some reverse planning.

College age: 18years old

Things that affect college:

  • Grades
  • Community Involvement
  • Money

Applications

Scholarships

Place of Study

Focus of Study

Looking at the things that directly affect the college decision we can now start reverse planning the decision and addressing some questions you might have.

When do grades start to affect college acceptance?

Many would say high school. However, can a child simply wake up and start getting good grades? Can a child go from a mediocre work ethic when it comes to school as an 8th grader to starting as a freshman in high school and have the discipline and consistency togirl-669823_1920 do homework and make the grades? Probably not. So this means we as parents need to start helping our children with these things prior to high school. We need to build the character and resolve for our children to know the right things to do and the discipline to do them even when they are in high school and all the distractions start to overwhelm and influence them.

Our oldest daughter is in the 6th grade and she understands that she has a college fund and will be going to college. She sees me pursuing another degree and the work ethic it takes to go to school, work, and be the best father for her. She is starting to ask questions about college and what to study and where to study. As a 6th grader she has the beginning discipline that it takes and understands that we sometimes have to postpone what feels good so we can do what is right. I saw this from her when she was in Taiwan with me. We were in taiwan while the rest of the family was in the US taking care of some legal and medical concerns. To keep up with the expectations of this strict, foreign school she had homework that many nights lasted until 8 or 9 pm. This also was working around my work schedule where she had to wake up around 5am. She was a trooper while it was just us two. She understood that there was a reason we were doing this and why the rest of the family was in the US. The only reason she understood this was because of intentional and well thought out communication that my wife and I talked about before sharing it with her. We as parents feel the need for intentionality with our children is one of the biggest callings we have on our lives.

Because we instilled these values and the knowledge about the future in her early to build a firm foundation, she will carry that all through Jr. High and be able to go into High School prepared to put in the work, thought, and effort to achieve the grades she needs to.

So, we recommend to start discussing college and the importance of good grades with your children just before they enter Jr. High. If you have a child around that age, just sit them down and ask them what they love doing, what they would love to do when they grown up (even if its several things), and then start talking about what steps they might need to take to get there. Talk about the importance of education, but more importantly, the importance of a good work ethic.

When should we discuss the costs of college with our children and make decisions on how it will be paid?

Money was discussed in another blog for this series and that planning for parents can be found here.  That blog tells you how much to save, where to find some great calculators, options for where to put that savings, and options for the different revenue sources the costs can come from (parents saving, child’s savings, scholarships, etc.).

You’ve already laid a good foundation down for your child when they entered Jr. High, so youth-393656_1920when they are about to enter High School, I recommend sitting them down and really showing them the costs that will be thrown at them immediately after they graduate.

College is expensive and thats not the only thing they have to pay for in the upcoming years. When they turn 16, they will want some sort of transportation (and you will probably want them to have it too), and whether they are paying all of it or you will be matching their contribution, thats a very large expense. This is a good spring board to teach them about saving in a sinking fund for an upcoming expense. They will be getting their first jobs usually as a freshman and they need to have a good plan for that money.

They also should understand that while scholarships and grants are an amazing way to take the cost of college down, they need to have good grades (or a lot of community service for some) to win those. BUT the more outside assistance they get, the less money they would have to put away now to help pay.

If your child is getting ready to enter high school or start their first job, sit down with them to look at some different in-state schools and the costs of those schools. Let them know how much of that (if any) you will be covering and come up with a reasonable amount for them to save in advance as well. Look briefly at some of the available scholarships and what the qualifications are for those, so that they have an idea of what they need to accomplish over the next 4 years. Remember, however much is not saved for in advance or covered by outside assistance will determine how much they will need to work through college to cover the remainder. Loans should NOT be an option. (Read my blog about the statistics of college loan debt)

When do we start planning where my child will go to college?

My recent trip to Boston had my daughter asking questions about not only my work but also Harvard. I intentionally sent her pictures of Cambridge and campus to spark questions. She may not understand what the school is but she does understand that there are choices in the decision of school and college and that she has a major decision in her future to make pertaining to what school she wants to go to. She is now asking to visit Cambridge and see what college students are like. She is starting to dream of possibilities and her future.

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Because the costs of colleges can be so different depending on where your child chooses to go (i.e. local community college, in-state university, out-of-state university, private university, etc.), the earlier you have this conversation, the better. Now, I’ve never met a young person that hasn’t changed their mind about something within 5 minutes of talking, so this choice doesn’t have to be set in stone, but its important to have goals and a plan. Most careers today don’t care at all where you went to school, just that you went and learned skills that you can apply in the real world (read an article by Time here). We recommend either going to a local community college for the first 2 years or attending all 4-years at an in-state public university to keep costs down. But whatever school your family decides on, get some pennants, mugs, shirts, etc. of that school and hang them up in your child’s bedroom. Keep that goal in front of them, so they can see it everyday and never forget why they are working so hard.

sunflower-834999_1920I hope I’ve answered some of your questions and concerns about when you should start talking to your children about higher education and just the future in general.The other parts of the reverse planning can be done simply by laying out the goals for each and timeline for those and then working backwards. If you feel like your child is already too far along, too old, or that you’ve missed your chance: you haven’t! There is no time like the present. More importantly then when you do it, is that you do it.

When it comes to our children, we will always have some kind of impact on their lives, but we only have a short while that they will be under our roofs and an even shorter amount of time that they will want to hear what we have to say. Over all, we want to preface those difficult years of raising teenagers and young adults as best we can with intentional teachings and intentional communication. College planning is one of those things. We start communicating college to our children young and as they get older we intentionally add more information and more opportunities for growth.

 The greatest thing is that these discussions will cause your child to dream about their future. That is what we as parents want and we don’t want them to ever lose that.

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Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.

What You Need to Know About Saving for College

We are continuing in our College series. Last week we talked about having a plan for your higher education (you can read that here). My goal is to help just one person with the road to college, whether that is a parent or if that is a student, as long as they want to make a change and break the continual cycle of loans, debt, and free flow planning instead of intentional living.

This week we will start at the beginning of college planning which we feel is the financial planning or saving for college. Financial planning we put first because with this out of the way many obstacles and objections to college can be overcome.

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“I don’t have time (working three jobs to make ends meet).”

“It’s too expensive.”

“I don’t need to go to college; there are many successful people who haven’t.”

“College is a business and not about education anymore.”

These are just a few of the mindsets people have today about the possibility of higher education, but if you were to have college already taken care of financially, would your stance change?

As parents, we want nothing more than for them to have the opportunities we didn’t have so they can have the life we didn’t. Something my father always said was, “Listen and adult-education-572269_1920learn from my mistakes; there is no reason for you to make the same mistakes.” As I look back on this, I see how important and how much wisdom could have been gained if I would have grasped all of that phrase when he was saying it. With all of this being said, I want to make it clear that neither me or my wife had college paid for upon graduating high school. In fact, I went out of state to a college I was paying $10,000 per semester, all paid for with student loans. After one semester of partying and $10,000 in loans with no transferable grades to show for it, I moved back home to my dads and decided to go to work. I don’t want my children to continue this cycle.

As parents and, more importantly, as a team, my wife and I continually tell our children that they will go to college (even if they choose to serve in the military). Not because we think it is necessary for success, but because we believe that the knowledge gained, connections made, people met, and the real-world experience learned are all valuable tools for life. We, however, do feel that it is our responsibility to provide this financially for them and so we have started saving for all of their tuition costs. Many people have different feelings on whether it is their responsibility to provide this for their children and I do not believe any of us are necessarily right or wrong, but no matter what your belief is, one thing that is for certain is that we as parents must plan.

How Much to Save

block-1512119_1920To fully fund a college education at an in-state school, it currently costs approximately $40,000 in tuition. Now this is a 4-year degree at a state school completed in 4-years. We can lower this number with grants, scholarships, and financial aid, but for this let us use this as the base number. In order for parent(s) to fund this $40,000, we have to start now.

I will admit that my wife and I are behind on this. We also have 4 children (11,9,2,1) and will fund all of their college (plus we want more kids: YIKES!). Let’s figure out what my family will need to save assuming a 3% annual college inflation rate and a rate of return of 10%. To fund this starting at age 11, we have to save $300 per month at least, for the 9-year old it is $225, 2 it is $110 and we would need to save $100 per month for our 1-year old. Obviously the sooner we start the easier and lower the number. Also something to consider, if for a new born you were to put back $7,000 when they are born, you would have $40,000 at the age of 18.

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The reason I break these down is to show you how starting early can save you money. The $300 needed to fund our oldest daughter’s college, is as much as a car note. The $100 (lowest number) needed for my youngest is the same amount we were paying for my student loans that have been around for the past almost ten years. We have put a priority on our children’s education and even it is expensive, I want to provide this so that our children don’t start out their adult life with that insane student loan debt lingering over their heads when they graduate.

Check out this college savings calculator (or any of the many out there) to figure out how much you need to be saving for your children for college.

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Where to put the money

For college education, there are many options for college savings from government bonds (probably the most famous grandparent gift), taxable savings account, 529 college savings plans, and 529 pre-paid tuition plans.

What we recommend is to put the money first into a 529 college savings plan and to diversify and control the investment. Investment options with your 529 plan can include stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds, and money market funds, and even age-based portfolios that become more conservative as the child gets closer to leaving for college. 529 plans allow your money to grow tax-free (some states will still charge state tax) and to withdrawal without penalty as long as the money is going toward eligible college expenses (tuition, room and board, books, etc.). You can learn all about 529 plans in this article from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Things to Remember

income-tax-491626_1920Contributions to your child’s (or grandchild’s, niece’s, etc.) college saving plan count as a gift from you. You have an allowance of $14,000 per year for gifts (you can choose to pay up to 5-years worth at once as long as it wouldn’t exceed that allowance). Check with your accountant for tax implications.

You don’t have to be the only one saving for your child’s college. In lieu of big expensive gifts that will go unplayed with, you could ask friends and relatives to instead give children college contributions for birthdays or other holidays. Also, when your child is old enough to start earning his/her own money, a portion of that should be going toward their education.

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Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.