This view is yours for just an arm and a leg!
I’m shaking in my boots. Why? Because my daughter and I just visited two colleges. It’s hard to believe that my little girl has grown up so fast. Even harder? That college costs have grown faster.
I shouldn’t complain too much. The first college we saw was only $15,000 per year. That’s a bargain considering what other colleges are charging. The second school costs $43,000 per year! It does have a great scholarship program. Still, the whole bill will cost well over $100,000K.
Did you know that the average cost of college has risen by nearly 600% from the time I went in 1985? That’s three times faster than the consumer price index. What’s worse, a lot of students are having trouble finding jobs after graduation. Oh, what joyful news. I can’t imagine the joy of leaving school without a job but with a HUGE student loan.
So why are so many kids still going to college? As a parent, my answer is because I’m scared. The gap between rich and poor is getting wider and I’m worried that my kids will be left behind. For all I know, in ten years you’ll need a master’s degree to serve a caramel macchiato at Starbucks. Plus the rate of unemployment for college grads is half the national average -- a fact not lost on me.
Of course, that’s not the only reason. College also gives you that ever important factor called ‘prestige.’ Also, you do learn a lot -- and not just academic stuff, but a lot of necessary life skills. You learn self-discipline and how to organize your time. You learn to take responsibility for your actions. You learn how to work with others -- both one on one and in groups -- as well how to cook Ramen noodles. Plus you really learn the value of a dollar. I still remember when my grandma used to send me $5 in the mail. I’d float around all day, feeling like Donald Trump without the freaky hairstyle.
So no matter the cost, my kids are going to college. I'm sure it's a fact universities rely on. I just wish I could count on my kids not needing to live in my basement once they are done.
You are never going to believe what I just found out.
I'M FILTHY, STINKING RICH!
I found not one or two, but three separate credit card offers in my mailbox today! If I play things right, my spending power is about to increase three-fold! A world of riches will be mine, and the excitement doesn't even end there.
The credit company I do use just sent me an updated card as well. Along with it they sent me another completely different card. I didn't have to ask!
That’s right. I got an unsolicited American Express card. I thought it had to be a mistake. I'd never applied or even asked for one, but my credit card confirmed that it was mine. You see, they had been worried because my current card wasn’t accepted at Neiman Marcus. Such a travesty!
Alas, Neiman Marcus, with their upscale, over-priced clothes. That's my kind of shopping...except it isn't, really. In fact, I only have one thing in my closet from Neiman Marcus: a Marc Jacobs black fringed top I’d found double tagged on a clearance rack at Filene’s Basement.
Truth is, financially my family does okay because I don’t go credit card crazy. Credit cards can lure you into spending money, especially when you shouldn't.
I still remember back during my college days when a friend got her very first card. Her first bill was $34. She let it slide, rolling the bill to next month. Then she rolled it again. Six months later, finance charges and late fees turned that $34 into over $200. She nearly had a heart attack.
When it comes to credit cards, don't carry too many and do your best to pay them off every month. My rule is if I can’t pay for something straight out of my checking account, I can’t afford it on my credit card bill, either.
If you want a few more tips when it comes to credit cards, loans and money, take a peek below:
MOM'S MONEY TIPS
1. 'Special offers' aren't really special. If a company or salesman says you've been 'specially selected,’ don’t feel flattered. They just want your money. It’s called marketing.
2. ‘Low, easy payments’ are no deal. The lower your monthly payment, the more you pay in the end. Here's an example:
Say you take out a 6% loan for $5000.
- If you take out a 1 year loan, you’ll pay $430/month for 12 months. TOTAL: $5164.
- If you take out a 3 year loan, you’ll pay $152/month for 36 months. TOTAL: $5476.
- If you take out a 5 year loan, you’ll pay $97/month for 60 months. TOTAL: $5800.
3. Always ask yourself: Do you need it now, or can you wait? If you can wait, put that money in the bank until you’ve saved enough to buy it outright. For all you know, by that time you might not need or want it anymore.
4. Paying full retail price is for chumps. Wait until it’s on sale.
5. Cars are an expense, not an investment. Man, I've seen a lot of people become slaves to their car payments. Don't let that be you. Make sure buy a vehicle you can comfortably afford. Plus remember, its value decreases as as soon as you drive it off the dealer's lot.
6. It’s all about give and take. If you find something expensive that you absolutely must have, ask yourself what you’re willing to give up in order to get it.
7. The little things add up. A $3 cup of Starbucks coffee every morning = $90/month. Yowsers.
8. Time is money. If you make $8/hr and wait until those killer $60 jeans go on sale for $40, you're not just saving $20 but 2-1/2 hours of work.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Make me proud and spend your money wisely! And if you're wondering what happened to those offers and the American Express card, they're in the trash.
It kills me. Every year I can't wait for school to get out and summer to begin so I can relax a little. Then it finally happens and I find myself even busier than before. Needless to say, posting every week has become impossible. I did, however, jot down a few pearls of wisdom for those who need a quick 'mom' fix. Here they are:
1. A penny saved is… not much. These days, if you really want something, start saving nickels and dimes.
2. If all the cool kids are doing it, don’t.
3. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, get it out of the house before it poops on the floor.
4. Good things come to those who work their butts off.
5. If you get knocked down, you can get right back up. If you get knocked up, it ain’t so easy.
I wouldn't be a mom if I didn't also remind you to make sure and wear sunscreen this summer. Back in the day, we laid out in the sun all day slathered in baby oil. Now we're all wrinkled and crinkled with freaky brown speckles everywhere. Want that to be you? Plus the whole skin cancer threat is very real and very scary.
And, of course, don't forget the sage advice given by John F. Kennedy during his inagural speech in 1961:
Fake statistics show that homes are 300% messier and 400% more out of control during the summer months. Give your mom a break and help out every once in a while, K?
Well, back into the chaos. Ciao for now!
I have a daughter and two sons, leaving me forever baffled by how three very distinct individuals could have sprung from the loins of the same two people. Take money, for instance. Two of my kids are savers and one is a spender. In fact, if the spender were down to his last quarter and saw a gumball machine, he’d be flat busted broke before you could say "Rain-Blo"
Anyway, I’m different from most folks in that I don’t mind having kids who constantly want things. Truth be told, I kind of like it. A kid who wants something that requires money is the first to clean the bathroom for a buck. What I can’t stand are kids who want something for nothing. They've got to be willing to work for it. I'm a nice person, but why should I have to shell out my dough to feed someone else’s iTunes obsession?
Sure, my kids get birthday and Christmas presents. New school clothes? Not a problem. They get special treats on other occasions, but many of their wants go unmet. That is, of course, unless they buy it themselves. Gotta love that motivation. There’s nothing like seeing your kid work hard to earn something that they want.
Just this week, one of my savers finally salted away enough money to buy something they really wanted. I won’t say how much it was. Just know it took them over a year, so we’re talking major bucks. Would I have spent that much for the item in question? Honestly, no I wouldn't. But it’s wasn’t my money. They'd earned it themselves. They had the right to spend it.
I guess what I’m saying is that, in my book, you shouldn’t feel greedy if you really want something you don’t need, even if it’s really expensive. Just make sure you’re willing to do the work to get it. And make sure you’re willing to do without the other things that same money could buy. That’s what adults do and the sooner you learn that, the better off you will be.
That's it. Now go wash the windows or something.
Okay, I’ve got to admit it. Keeping up with blog posts during the summer isn’t as easy as I though it’d be. The kids are all out of school, which means we’re busier than ever (surprise) and, frankly, I’m feeling kinda lazy. 90 degree heat will do that to a person. So for the balance of the summer I’m going to ease up on the posts a bit. This is good because you should be easing up on the internet a bit, too. I mean, come on. (insert ‘mom’ voice here) It’s beautiful outside. Go for a bike ride or something!
Anyway, in addition to spacing the posts out a little more, I decided to create some short and sweet supplemental posts entitled, “Things You Ought to Know.” They will cover a wide variety of topics – some silly, some not – that you’ll need to know either a) when you become a grown up or b) when you need to relate to grown ups.
Okay, okay. So you know it all already. Still, you might just learn a nugget or two. After all, even James Bond had a learner’s permit before he got his license to kill. For years he could only maim villains during daylight hours under strict mentor supervision. Right now, baby, you’ve got a learner’s permit on life. It’s important to keep your ears and eyes open and learn all you can before you’re a full-fledge adult.
With that being said, let’s get started.
Things You Ought to Know: Keeping Up with the Joneses
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ It's often used to describe the 'act or making of purchases for status or image rather than out of need, especially for the purpose of competing with friends or neighbors.' Just look in the Wiktionary. But did you ever wonder where it came from? Believe it or not, a comic strip.
Written by Arthur “Pop” Momand, the strip ran from 1916-1940 and was called – get this -- Keeping Up with the Joneses. Go figure! It featured the McGinises, a family living next to the “objects of envy,” the Joneses. The Jones family had the best of everything. This, of course, translated into high social standing. Poor McGinises – they tried everything they could to keep up with the Joneses. Of course, they always failed.
And look where we are now, decades later. Folks are still trying. Why else would someone spend $400 on a Coach purse? For centuries, people have been judged by how much they make. And since people don’t go around telling others what they earn, the only real way to judge wealth is by what they spend. Right?
Sure, a person living in a $500,000 house probably doesn’t work at Burger King (that it, unless they own it). At the same time, they might owe $475,000 on that house and struggle to make monthly payments. Across town you might have someone in a $250,000 home that owns it outright. Looks can be deceiving.
Still, there is that one family with TONS of dough. You know, their daughter’s in your Chemistry class. She's always talking about Spring Break in St. Thomas and how pissed she is that Daddy forgot to have seat warmers installed in her Mercedes. I bet she never has to beg for a pair of Lucky Jeans. No fair. If only you could be her…
Well, guess what? Her life might still suck. Her parents might fight all the time, or verbally abuse her -- oh, man! They might have an illegal slave trade business, forcing her to remain silent or be sold to a sultan in Kelantan! Or maybe…
Her life doesn’t suck. It might be pretty cool. Oh, the injustice of it all!
I’d like to tell you that when you’re older it doesn’t matter, that people don’t judge others by what they have, but I’d be lying. Many do. So what’s my advice?
If you don’t, it’ll drive you crazy. There will ALWAYS be someone with more than you. Enjoy the things you have. And when you’re finally in the workforce trying to earn a dime, remember this quote from a very wise and intelligent woman (a.k.a. me):
“Some people make enough, some people don’t, and it has nothing to do with their paycheck.”
Think on that for a minute. What kind of person will you be? Will you always need more, ever striving to keep up with the Joneses? Or will you choose to be content. It is a choice, you know.
Now I'm not giving you an excuse to be lazy. Ambition is a good thing. So are goals. Just make sure you're motivated for the right reasons. Also keep in mind that people who are never satisfied are, well, never satisfied. What fun is that? As for people who judge their self worth by the amount and/or quality of their possessions? That's just plain sad.
Okay, I'm done now. That took me longer than I thought! Trust me, the next one of these will be shorter. Like I said, it's summer. Now that I'm done I've got to get onto Zappos so I can order these super cute Keens my friend, Angela, just bought. They’re probably more than I want to pay, but all the cool moms are wearing them and I don’t want to look like a loser. ;)
Until next time,