7 Ways to Help You Cut College Costs


By Lynn O’Shaughnessy

Parents may assume they earn too much to qualify for financial aid. However, there are a number of strategies that even wealthy families can employ to cut expenses. Here are seven steps for estimating costs and maximizing financial aid.

While it’s no surprise that parents stress about how they’re going to pay for college, you may be shocked at those who are arguably the biggest worriers. In my experience, the people who are most proactive in seeking ways to cut college costs are affluent and wealthy parents.

The good news is that simple yet effective strategies exist to help you make college more affordable for your children. You can start with these key steps:

Don’t make assumptions about financial aid

You may think you won’t qualify for financial aid, but parents are often terrible judges of their potential eligibility.

When money is an issue—and it usually is for even affluent families—determining whether a student will qualify for need-based aid is a critical first step in reducing college costs.finanicial aid

Once a family knows the answer to this question, they can target the right sources for college money. To illustrate this, here are three financial aid scenarios:

  • Example 1

Parents have an adjusted gross income of $225,000. With this level of income, only a few elite schools might give this child need-based aid. This family should aim for colleges that award merit scholarships to high-income students. Nearly all colleges do, except for a tiny number of schools, including the Ivy League institutions.

  • Example 2

The parents in the above example now have two children attending college. The aid formulas are much more generous when siblings are attending college simultaneously. This family would now enjoy a much greater chance of qualifying for need-based aid at many private institutions but would only be eligible for merit scholarships at state universities.

  • Example 3

Parents have an adjusted gross income of $130,000. At expensive private institutions, this student would be eligible for need-based aid, but the family would be looking exclusively for merit awards at state schools.


Get familiar with the EFC

You may ask: “How rich is too rich for financial aid?”

The answer this popular question involves a critical number called the “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC). An EFC is a dollar figure that represents what a financial aid formula says a family should be able to pay, at a minimum, for one year of a child’s college education.

The EFC for an impoverished family can be as low as $0. That means they don’t have the ability to pay even a single dollar for college. The wealthier the family, the higher the EFC will be, and there is no cap. An executive at a national restaurant chain once told me that he calculated his EFC at $108,000.

As you can see from the examples below, once you have generated the EFC, it’s simple to determine if need-based financial aid is a possibility.

  • Example 1

Family’s EFC is $35,000 and the school’s sticker price is $59,000.

Cost of attendance: $59,000 minus EFC: $35,000

$24,000 Student’s financial need

In this case, the student would ideally receive $24,000 in aid to bridge the gap between what the formula says the family can afford and the school’s price tag.

  • Example 2

Family’s EFC is $60,000 and school price is $32,000.

Cost of attendance: $32,000 minus EFC: $60,000

$0 Financial need

With no chance for financial aid at this school, the child should look for a merit award from the institution to cut the price.


How to obtain your EFC

You can generate your EFC by heading to theCollege Board and using the site’s EFC Calculator(

To use the calculator, you must gather your latest income tax return and your investment and savings account statements. Questions the EFC calculator asks includes:

  • Number in household
  • Marital status of parents
  • Number of children in college
  • Parents’ adjusted gross income
  • Parents’ income taxes paid
  • Student’s adjusted gross income
  • Student’s income taxes paid
  • Claimed education tax credits
  • Medical expenses
  • Cash, savings, checking for parent(s) and child
  • Non-retirement investments for parent(s) and child

Using the calculator, you can generate the following two EFC figures:

  • Federal EFC is linked to the Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA), the federal form that anyone wanting need-based aid must complete.
  • Institutional EFC is connected to a second aid form called the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE,which about 260 mostly private schools use to determine which students will get their in-house assistance. In addition to the FAFSA, many prestigious private schools use the PROFILE.

EFC Example

Married couple’s AGI: $150,000

Taxable accounts: $100,000

Home equity: $200,000

Federal EFC: $36,652

Institutional EFC: $35,006

Start using an EFC calculator as early as your child’s middle-school years. You’ll need to know what kind of college tab you’ll will be facing soon.


Use net price calculators

Students apply in blind faith to colleges and then often wait months to find out if they’ve been admitted and what their awards, if any, will be.

Thanks to a relatively new online tool called the “net price calculator,” your child doesn’t need to apply in the dark. A net price calculator generates an estimate of what a particular school will cost your family based on your financial strength and your child’s academic profile after any potential grants/scholarships are deducted from the price tag.

net price

A good net price calculator will require the same type of financial information that an EFC calculator needs. It may also ask about a student’s GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores to calculate merit awards.

  • Bad calculators. Beware that about half of the nation’s NPCs are bad. These calculators rely on the federal calculator template, which only asks for income ranges and doesn’t inquire about assets at all! Without that information, you can’t generate an accurate estimate. A federal calculator should only take a minute or less to use.
  • Hidden tool. Schools sometimes hide these federally mandated calculators on their websites. The easiest way to find one is to Google the name of the school and “net price calculator.”
  • When to use. If money is an issue, you may run net price calculators for individual schools before allowing your children to apply anywhere. If the net price is too high, keep looking for more affordable options.


How your investments impact aid awards

Parents tend to be quite concerned about how their savings will impact their ability to get college awards. It’s often not as big an issue as they assume, because many assets aren’t considered in the aid formulas, including retirement accounts.

Depending on the financial aid form, schools assess relevant parent assets from 5% to 5.64%. Any 529 college accounts are treated as a parent’s asset.


Parent’s assets: $100,000

5% Assessment: x .05

($5,000) Family’s eligibility for financial aid

In this scenario, the family’s eligibility for financial aid would decrease by $5,000.

Most families will only need to complete the FAFSA when seeking financial aid, and the following assets aren’t considered and should not be included on the application:

  • Retirement assets
  • Home equity in primary home
  • Annuities
  • Cash value in life insurance

Nearly all PROFILE schools also ignore retirement assets in aid calculations. These institutions, however, are interested in home equity, non-qualified annuities, and sometimes the cash value in life insurance.


How child assets impact aid awards

Financial aid formulas treat child assets more harshly. The PROFILE assesses child assets at 25%, while a child’s savings will reduce potential aid by 20% with the FAFSA.

UGMA and UTMA custodial accounts are considered a child’s assets.

  • Example

Child’s assets: $25,000

5% Assessment: x .25

($6,250) Aid eligibility drops by $6,250

One potential solution is that you could close a custodial account, pay any applicable taxes and then move the assets into a “custodial” 529 account. Money in a custodial 529 is treated for aid purposes as if it belongs to the parent.

Important: If a family is wealthy and will not qualify for need-based aid, the amount of investments that parents and children possess is irrelevant.


Check graduation rates

Parents typically assume that their children will graduate from college in four years, but that usually doesn’t happen. According to federal statistics, 33% of students attending state universities graduate In four years, while nearly 53% of students at private colleges pull this off.

Making sure a child graduates on time is a sure-fire way to limit ballooning college costs. Check out the following two resources to research grad rates at individual schools before your children apply anywhere:

Bottom line

Knowing these late-stage college planning tools can put you in a much better position to help your college-bound teens maximize their financial aid and avoid accumulating mountains of college debt that takes many years to pay off. Consult with your financial advisor on how to set up the best college plan for your specific situation.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a nationally recognized college expert, higher education journalist, consultant, and speaker.

Copyright © 2016 by Horsesmouth, LLC. All Rights Reserved. License #: 4004097-84309. Reprint Licensee.


THE 12 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business

laws of business

1. The Law of Purpose: The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.

2. The Law of Organization: A business organization is a group of people brought together for the common purpose of creating and keeping customers.

3. The Law of Customer Satisfaction:  The customer is always right.

4. The Law of the Customer: The customer always acts to satisfy his or her interests by seeking the very most and best at the very lowest possible price.

5. The Law of Quality: The customer demands the very highest quality for the very lowest price.

6. The Law of Obsolescence: Whatever is, is already becoming obsolete.

7. The Law of Innovation: All breakthroughs in business come from innovation, from offering something better, cheaper, faster, newer or more efficient in the current marketplace.

8. The Law of Critical Success Factors: Every business has a number of critical success factors, which measure and determine the success or failure of the organization.

9. The Law of the Market: The market is where buyers and sellers meet to set prices and determine the allocation of money, labor, materials and all factors of production.

10. The Law of Specialization: To succeed in a competitive marketplace, a product or service must be specialized to perform a specific function and be excellent at satisfying a clearly defined need of the customer.

11. The Law of Differentiation: A product or service must have a competitive advantage or an area of excellence that enables it to stand out from its competitors in some way if it is to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

12. The Law of Segmentation: Companies must target specific customer groups or market segments if they are to achieve significant sales.

by Brian Tracy

Published by The Virtual Assistant; ©2012 VSA, LP

Four Ways To Fund A Buy-Sell Plan

Business Briefs

July 6, 2016


There are FOUR ways to fund a buy-sell plan at an owner’s death:

1. Cash Method

The purchaser(s) could accumulate sufficient cash to buy the business interest at the owner’s death. Unfortunately, it could take many years to save the necessary funds, while the full amount may be needed in just a few months or years.

2. Installment Method

The purchase price could be paid in installments after the owner’s death. For the purchaser(s), this could mean a drain on business income for years. In addition, payments to the surviving family would be dependent on future business performance after the owner’s death.

3. Loan Method

Assuming that the new owner(s) could obtain a business loan, borrowing the purchase price requires that future business income be used to repay the loan PLUS interest.

4. Insured Method

Only life insurance can guarantee that the cash needed to complete the sale will be available exactly when needed at the owner’s death, assuming that the business has been accurately valued.

If you had died or become disabled yesterday, who would own and manage your business today?

from the Masters…

The Four Emotions That Can Lead to Life Change

by Jim Rohn

Emotions are the most powerful forces inside us. Under the power of emotions, human beings can perform the most heroic (as well as barbaric) acts. To a great degree, civilization itself can be defined as the intelligent channeling of human emotion. Emotions are fuel and the mind is the pilot, which together propel the ship of civilized progress.

Which emotions cause people to act? There are four basic ones; each, or a combination of several, can trigger the most incredible activity. The day that you allow these emotions to fuel your desire is the day you’ll turn your life around.


One does not usually equate the word “disgust” with positive action. And yet properly channeled, disgust can change a person’s life. The person who feels disgusted has reached a point of no return. He or she is ready to throw down the gauntlet at life and say, “I’ve had it!” That’s what I said after many humiliating experiences at age 25, I said. “I don’t want to live like this anymore. I’ve had it with being broke. I’ve had it with being embarrassed, and I’ve had it with lying.”

Yes, productive feelings of disgust come when a person says, “Enough is enough.”

The “guy” has finally had it with mediocrity. He’s had it with those awful sick feelings of fear, pain and humiliation. He then decides he is not going to live like this anymore.” Look out! This could be the day that turns a life around. Call it what you will, the “I’ve had it” day, the “never again” day, the “enough’s enough” day. Whatever you call it, it’s powerful! There is nothing so life-changing as gut-wrenching disgust!


Most of us need to be pushed to the wall to make decisions. And once we reach this point, we have to deal with the conflicting emotions that come with making them. We have reached a fork in the road. Now this fork can be a two-prong, three-prong, or even a four-prong fork. No wonder that decision-making can create knots in stomachs, keep us awake in the middle of the night, or make us break out in a cold sweat.

Making life-changing decisions can be likened to internal civil war. Conflicting armies of emotions, each with its own arsenal of reasons, battle each other for supremacy of our minds. And our resulting decisions, whether bold or timid, well thought out or impulsive, can either set the course of action or blind it. I don’t have much advice to give you about decision-making except this:

Whatever you do, don’t camp at the fork in the road. Decide. It’s far better to make a wrong decision than to not make one at all. Each of us must confront our emotional turmoil and sort out our feelings.


How does one gain desire? I don’t think I can answer this directly because there are many ways. But I do know two things about desire:

a. It comes from the inside not the outside.

b. It can be triggered by outside forces.

Almost anything can trigger desire. It’s a matter of timing as much as preparation. It might be a song that tugs at the heart. It might be a memorable sermon. It might be a movie, a conversation with a friend, a confrontation with the enemy, or a bitter experience. Even a book or an article such as this one can trigger the inner mechanism that will make some people say, “I want it now!”

Therefore, while searching for your “hot button” of pure, raw desire, welcome into your life each positive experience. Don’t erect a wall to protect you from experiencing life. The same wall that keeps out your disappointment also keeps out the sunlight of enriching experiences. So let life touch you. The next touch could be the one that turns your life around.


Resolve says, “I will.” These two words are among the most potent in the English language. I WILL. Benjamin Disraeli, the great British statesman, once said, “Nothing can resist a human will that will stake even its existence on the extent of its purpose.” In other words, when someone resolves to “do or die,” nothing can stop him.

The mountain climber says, “I will climb the mountain. They’ve told me it’s too high, it’s too far, it’s too steep, it’s too rocky, it’s too difficult. But it’s my mountain. I will climb it. You’ll soon see me waving from the top or you’ll never see me, because unless I reach the peak, I’m not coming back.” Who can argue with such resolve?

When confronted with such iron-will determination, I can see Time, Fate and Circumstance calling a hasty conference and deciding, “We might as well let him have his dream. He’s said he’s going to get there or die trying.”

The best definition for “resolve” I’ve ever heard came from a schoolgirl in Foster City, California. As is my custom, I was lecturing about success to a group of bright kids at a junior high school. I asked, “Who can tell me what “resolve” means?” Several hands went up, and I did get some pretty good definitions. But the last was the best. A shy girl from the back of the room got up and said with quiet intensity, “I think resolve means promising yourself you will never give up.” That’s it! That’s the best definition I’ve ever heard: PROMISE YOURSELF YOU’LL NEVER GIVE UP.

Think about it! How long should a baby try to learn how to walk? How long would you give the average baby before you say, “That’s it, you’ve had your chance”? You say that’s crazy? Of course it is. Any mother would say, “My baby is going to keep trying until he learns how to walk!” No wonder everyone walks.

There is a vital lesson in this. Ask yourself, “How long am I going to work to make my dreams come true?” I suggest you answer, “As long as it takes.” That’s what these four emotions are all about.

from the Masters…

On Networking

“Networking is simply the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships. It works best, however, when emphasizing the ‘give’ part.”

— Bob Burg

“Network continually — 85 percent of all jobs are filled through contacts and personal references.”

— Brian Tracy

“Expand your network by one quality person a day, forever.”

— Mark Victor Hansen

On Opportunities

“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

— Lee Iococca

“The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.”

— Orison Swett Marden

“Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.”

— George S. Claso

3 Ways To Be A Champion


When it comes to being successful, there’s a lot more to the process than simply winning. My personal friend Lee Labrada (the former Mr. Universe, the man who holds more body building records than anyone in history) says, “Forget about winning.”  He tells me he’s known a lot of so-called winners, who have won a number of contests, but live despicable lives that, are not worth following or emulating.

I agree.  There’s a lot more to success than simply winning.

Indeed, the happiest and most accomplished people, on and off the job, are more than winners.  They’re what Lee and I call champions.

And the good news is you can be a champion.  Yes, YOU …if you do three things.

In fact, almost every day I’m teaching team members and leaders in business, education, finance, government, and healthcare how to become and remain champions.  The process starts when you master these three skills.

1. A Champion Keeps an Open Mind

Champions reject “impossibility” thinking.  Meaning they refrain from thinking a particular goal might be impossible.

Instead, they choose and continue to think their goal is possible.  And as long as they think that way, their subconscious minds continue to work towards the achievement of their goal.

By contrast, whiners think, “That’ll never work.”  And they dream up all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t even try to achieve their goal.  In other words, they rationalize their lack of effort by telling themselves “rational lies.”

2. A Champion Verbalizes the Positive

Champions also talk differently than other folks.  I’m sure you’ve noticed.  They almost always find something positive to say.

Dr. Robert Schuller tells the story of the horrific drought during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. When harvest season came, his father would normally gather a hundred wagons-full of corn. But that year his father got a meager one-half wagon-load.

Robert says he’ll never forget his Dad’s response. As they sat at the dinner table holding hands, his father said, “I thank you God that I have lost nothing. For I have regained the seed I planted in the springtime.” He had planted a half wagon-load of seed and he harvested a half wagon-load in the fall.

While other farmers were saying, “We lost 90 to 100 loads,” his father taught him, “Never count up the might-have-beens or you’ll be dejected. Never look at what you have lost. Look at what you have left.” It’s the way champions talk.

Whiners, on the other hand tend to commiserate. They say such things as, “Oh, you don’t know the problems I have … or… I couldn’t do it …or …I tried that one time and I failed.” They speak out verbal curses that kill off their willingness to start and their ability to succeed.

3. A Champion Keeps on Trying.

It’s one of the key things that differentiate a champion and a loser.  Champions keep on trying.  They find a way to get it done.  Whiners don’t. It’s that simple.

One comedian on TV summarized it quite well. He said, “I always thought I was an underachiever. Then one day I realized I was just a darn failure. I never even tried.” That’s the sad but true story of many people’s lives.

Champions find a way. I learned that at a speaking engagement I had a while ago. I arrived at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix-Scottsdale at 1:00 a.m., but my clothes didn’t. I was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and tennis shoes and I was to address a new, high level, very important client — a tie and suit crowd — at 8:00 a.m.

I told the desk clerk my predicament. I asked him if I could borrow a suit that might be used by one of their waiters. He told me to check with housekeeping at 6:00 a.m. to see if they had anything.

At 6:00 a.m. I approached the head of housekeeping. She only had one suit and it was much too big. The sleeves were too long. The pants weren’t even hemmed. I took it. I figured I could pin up the pants and if I held my arms up when I gestured, the sleeves wouldn’t fall over my hands. The only other problem was they had no shoes whatsoever. I was forced to wear my white tennis shoes with my baggy Ritz Carlton suit.

So it was off to the speech. When the rather formal Vice President saw me, his first remark was, “What’s this outfit?” I explained what had happened and what I had done about it. He said, “Good thinking.”

The Vice President then introduced me to the audience. He described my ordeal. The audience loved the speech. They even thought my “outfit” added to the overall impact of the presentation and suggested that I always dress that way.

I don’t know about that. But I do know that champions find a way.



Such was the case with the Roeblings. John Roebling was the engineer who got the idea of building the Brooklyn Bridge that would tie Manhattan Island to Brooklyn. But all the bridge-building experts and structural engineers said it was impossible. And even if it could be built, the winds and tides would destroy it.

Nonetheless, John and his son, Washington, figured out how the problems could be solved. They began construction–until an awful accident occurred. In the same incident, John was killed and Washington got submerged beneath the water so long that he suffered permanent brain damage. In fact Washington never walked or talked again.

Everybody, except Washington, said to forget the project. He developed a communication system where he could touch one finger to the arm of his wife. Through her, he communicated to the engineers and supervised the project for 13 years.

And finally, in 1883 traffic streamed across the completed Brooklyn Bridge. When Washington Roebling was told the news, he wept for joy. He had found a way to make the impossible dream become a reality.  He was a champion in every sense of the word.

What about you?  Would you call yourself a champion?  Would other people at work and at home call you a champion?  I hope so.  Our lives and careers are too important to be anything less than that.

Final Thought:  The person who wants to do something will find a way. The person who doesn’t will find an excuse.

Dr. Alan Zimmerman,  Lifelong Student – Educator – Speaker – Industry Leader

Retirement Planning: A Document Checklist

Retirement Readings

June 15, 2016

Retirement planning


You may find this Document Checklist of assistance in your planning. Please contact my office if we can be of further assistance.




Birth Certificate


Marriage License


Pre- or Post-Nuptial Agreement






Living Will(s)/Power(s) of Attorney


Mortgage Papers


Automobile Titles/ Papers


Income Tax Returns


Gift Tax Returns


Insurance Policies


Employee Benefit Documents




Military Records


Medical Records


Citizenship Papers




Current Bills


Funeral/ Burial Documents




Business Ownership

Partnership/ Incorporation Documents


Buy-Sell Agreement


Section 303 Stock Redemption Agreement


Business Valuation/Appraisal


Business Tax Returns




from the Masters…


by Sheila Murray Bethel

We are living in exciting age of unprecedented change. Today’s accelerated rate of change presents us with unique challenges and opportunities. When change brings success, keep your ego from getting out of hand. When the change is negative, use your sense of humor to get through it. Once you learn to handle change, you can take your skills, talents, and abilities and help others change. Let’s look at four ways to enhance your mastery of change.

1. Don’t Fight It.

The natural tendency is to protect what you know and value, what has become familiar and comfortable. Unfortunately the world will change with or without you. So you must adapt again and again. You make your life so much more complicated when you fight the change. You cause yourself stress and can actually become ill. Remember the old Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

2. You don’t have to like the Change.

No one ever said you have to like the changes you are experiencing. However, you do have to understand them so you can progress. Study, explore, and read everything you can about the current matters that affect your perception and handling of change. Life is not always about “liking.” It is about doing the best you can, with what you you’ve got and getting on with it–right now!

3. Know what to defend against change.

There are some things we should resist changing because change does not always translate into better. Change for the sake of change alone can destroy valuable situations, assets, and relationships. Many values deserve to be defended. Ask yourself what you will change and what you will defend.

4. Have a Sense of Humor.

Humor can give you a momentary “emotional vacation.” A sense of humor can conquer pretense, and diffused anger and hostility. It can take an impossible situation and change it into an acceptable one. The old axiom, “if you take yourself too seriously, no one else will,” is key. The most effective people are spontaneous and can use humor to express their feelings, and to encourage others.

When you set out to be a change master and to make a difference in this world, there is no guarantee that it will be easy. By learning about change, serving others and helping them to learn to change, you will indeed be making a difference.

from the Masters…


On Integrity


“Always do right! This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

— Mark Twain

“A “NO” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “YES” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

“The virtue of man ought to be measured, not by his extraordinary exertions, but by his everyday conduct.”

— Blaise Pascal


On Kindness


“I believe…that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

— Thomas Paine

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

— Leo Buscaglia

“Because the soul has such deep roots in personal and social life and its values run so contrary to modern concerns, caring for the soul may well turn out to be a radical act, a challenge to accepted norms.”

— Thomas Moore

Tuesday Tips

tuesday tip


by Joe of Talking Cents 

Identify Bad Spending Habits choose to spend money affects your ability to generate savings or eliminate credit card debt. Poor spending choices can result in increased debt or an inability to pay off what you already owe. Sometimes we have bad spending habits that we don’t even notice. If we identify spending weaknesses, then we can get those negative tendencies in check to get out of debt quicker.


How to Identify Bad Spending Habits

When it comes to our financial behavior, any unnecessary spending that occurs on a regular basis could be considered a bad spending habit. Some bad spending habits are obvious because they coincide with our other less desirable actions. Smoking, for example, is unhealthy, unproductive, and can cost almost $3000 a year by smoking a pack per day. Limiting or dropping these habits completely is the best debt reduction tactic there is.

Other bad spending habits are less easy to identify because the negative behavior is not as evident. Finding ways to curb these tendencies requires taking a closer look at our daily routine.

Commonly Overlooked Spending Weaknesses:

Unused Utilities – Leaving lights on, letting water run, and having inactive appliances plugged in all the time can all add up to an unnecessarily high monthly utility bill.

Daily Deals Shopping – Many of us fall victim to the idea that the special offers we receive via email are a way to save while we spend. This type of compulsive spending on items we don’t really need makes it harder to eliminate credit card debt.

Dining Out – We’re all entitled to a nice restaurant meal from time to time, but if you’re buying lunch at work every day, consider making your own meals or using leftovers to cut down on daily food costs.

Commuting – Gas prices go up and down, but if you try biking, carpooling, or using public transportation for work and other trips around town, you can avoid those extra visits to the pump.

Brand Loyalty – Generic brands don’t look as nice on the outside, but what’s inside the package is usually identical to name brand products. Switching to generics is an easy way to reduce spending.

Keeping up With the Joneses – This particular habit can be especially troublesome if you’re trying to eliminate debt. It’s easy to falsely justify why we “need” the latest gadget, the bigger TV, or the top-of-the-line appliance. Postponing a purchase until the savings are there, buying used, or going without all together can go a long way to avoiding excessive spending.

Are Your Habits Hurting?

There are many habits not listed above which could adversely affect spending behavior. Whether or not your spending habits are bad depends entirely on your situation and your awareness. If you can keep your spending in check and don’t rely on credit cards to satisfy urges, then just cutting back a little more could still help to reduce debts quicker. If you’re struggling to manage credit card debt, then it is critical that you break your bad habits as soon as possible.


Estate Ideas

March 9, 2016


life ins charity

Regardless of your reasons for giving, a gift of life insurance can represent a substantial future gift to a favorite charity at relatively little cost to you. You can:

  • Make a Charity the Beneficiary of an Existing Policy: If you have a life insurance policy you no longer need, you can name the charity as the beneficiary of the policy, meaning that the charity will receive the policy’s death benefit after you die. While there are no current tax benefits to this approach, the value of the policy will be removed from your estate for federal estate tax purposes.

  • Make a Charity the Owner and Beneficiary of an Existing Policy: Instead of simply naming the charity as beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy, you transfer full ownership of the policy to the charity. The charity will then receive the policy’s death benefit after you die. In addition to removing the value of the policy from your estate for federal estate tax purposes, this approach also provides you with current federal income tax deductions.

  • Help a Charity Purchase a New Insurance Policy on Your Life: If you wish to make a substantial future gift to a charity at a relatively low cost to you, another alternative is to consider purchasing a new life insurance policy and name the charity as the policy owner and beneficiary. You then arrange to pay the premiums through gifts to the charity. This approach provides federal income tax deductions and the policy proceeds are not included in your estate for federal estate tax purposes.

Important Note: Most states through their “insurable interest” laws allow a charity to be the owner and/or beneficiary of an insurance policy on a donor’s life. Since state laws do vary, however, it is important to consult with a professional advisor before making a gift of life insurance to a charity. Please contact my office if we can be of assistance.

from the Masters…


For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards. That’s one of life’s great arrangements. In fact, it’s an extension of the Biblical law that says that if you sow well, you will reap well.

Here’s a unique part of the Law of Sowing and Reaping. Not only does it suggest that we’ll all reap what we’ve sown, but it also suggests that we’ll reap much more. Life is full of laws that both govern and explain behaviors, but this may well be the major law we need to understand: for every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards.

What a concept! If you render unique service, your reward will be multiplied. If you’re fair and honest and patient with others, your reward will be multiplied. If you give more than you expect to receive, your reward is more than you expect. But remember: the key word here, as you might well imagine, is discipline.

Everything of value requires care, attention, and discipline. Our thoughts require discipline. We must consistently determine our inner boundaries and our codes of conduct, or our thoughts will be confused. And if our thoughts are confused, we will become hopelessly lost in the maze of life. Confused thoughts produce confused results.

Remember the law: “For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards.” Learn the discipline of writing a card or a letter to a friend. Learn the discipline of paying your bills on time, arriving to appointments on time, or using your time more effectively. Learn the discipline of paying attention, or paying your taxes or paying yourself. Learn the discipline of having regular meetings with your associates, or your spouse, or your child, or your parent. Learn the discipline of learning all you can learn, of teaching all you can teach, of reading all you can read.

For each discipline, multiple rewards. For each book, new knowledge. For each success, new ambition. For each challenge, new understanding. For each failure, new determination. Life is like that. Even the bad experiences of life provide their own special contribution. But a word of caution here for those who neglect the need for care and attention to life’s disciplines: everything has its price. Everything affects everything else. Neglect discipline, and there will be a price to pay. All things of value can be taken for granted with the passing of time.

That’s what we call the Law of Familiarity. Without the discipline of paying constant, daily attention, we take things for granted. Be serious. Life’s not a practice session.

If you’re often inclined to toss your clothes onto the chair rather than hanging them in the closet, be careful. It could suggest a lack of discipline. And remember, a lack of discipline in the small areas of life can cost you heavily in the more important areas of life. You cannot clean up your company until you learn the discipline of cleaning your own garage. You cannot be impatient with your children and be patient with your distributors or your employees. You cannot inspire others to sell more when that goal is inconsistent with your own conduct. You cannot admonish others to read good books when you don’t have a library card.

Think about your life at this moment. What areas need attention right now? Perhaps you’ve had a disagreement with someone you love or someone who loves you, and your anger won’t allow you to speak to that person. Wouldn’t this be an ideal time to examine your need for a new discipline? Perhaps you’re on the brink of giving up, or starting over, or starting out. And the only missing ingredient to your incredible success story in the future is a new and self-imposed discipline that will make you try harder and work more intensely than you ever thought you could.

The most valuable form of discipline is the one that you impose upon yourself. Don’t wait for things to deteriorate so drastically that someone else must impose discipline in your life. Wouldn’t that be tragic? How could you possibly explain the fact that someone else thought more of you than you thought of yourself? That they forced you to get up early and get out into the marketplace when you would have been content to let success go to someone else who cared more about themselves.

Your life, my life, the life of each one of us is going to serve as either a warning or an example. A warning of the consequences of neglect, self-pity, lack of direction and ambition…or an example of talent put to use, of discipline self-imposed, and of objectives clearly perceived and intensely pursued.


from the Masters…


On Relationships


“What counts is a way to get along with people that will bring us personal satisfaction and, at the same time, not trample upon the egos of those we deal with.”

— Les Giblin

“My life changed for the better the day I realized that when I gossiped, it ultimately hurt me much more than it hurt the person about whom I gossiped.”

-– Bob Burg

“Technology does not run an enterprise, relationships do.”

— Patricia Fripp

“The best words for resolving a disagreement are, ‘I could be wrong; I often am.’ It’s true.”

-– Brian Tracy

On Courage

“Courage is sometimes frail as hope is frail: a fragile shoot between two stones that grows brave toward the sun though warmth and brightness fail, striving and faith the only strength it knows.”

— Frances Rodman

“It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.”

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“To dream anything that you want to dream, that is the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do, that is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself, to test your limits, that is the courage to succeed.”

— Bernard Edmonds

Time Management Tools

time managementMost people need some sort of device or tool to help them stay on track and manage time well. Very few people can stay organized without a little help; you could use an app that stores appointments and sends reminders, or a timer that helps you keep on track.

We’re all different, and some students like simple tools while others prefer gizmos with pop-up reminders and alarms. It doesn’t really matter which tool you use. It’s just a good idea to use some tool!

Find one that fits your personality and style. You’ll be amazed at the freedom that comes from getting organized!

1.  Time Management Clock

You can design your own clock to manage your tasks, and be ready for school right on time! Use a big round clock and a labeler to create a took that will help you finish each task by a certain deadline. This is a simple tool, but it works wonders!

You can create labels with an inexpensive labeling machine and place them on a big-faced clock in the appropriate spots. The clock image on the left shows labels that mark priority deadlines for certain tasks for a student writing an essay.

You can also use colorful foam letters (with sticky backs) to create a time management clock for school mornings. Your finished clock will look like the one on the right, but you may think of other necessary tasks for your own clock.

Just label the most important tasks you carry out and give yourself a certain deadline for finishing each one.

2.  Daily Task List

This is one of those simple tools that anybody can use. In fact, the task list consists of a pen and a paper tablet. But you’d be amazed at the power this simple organization tool provides you! You simply write down every task that you want to complete on a single day, and cross them off as you progress. Any tasks that are left undone (or those that can’t be completed) are carried over to the next day.

Here’s How:

  1. Set your goals for a month. Record any large assignments or projects that you need to finish.
  2. Divide your big jobs into small tasks. For example, if you need to make 100 science flash card in the next month, you can put “Make 10 flashcards” on your list some days.
  3. Prioritize your tasks. For instance, you’ll need to brainstorm a project first, buy supplies next, and start creating posters third.
  4. Use an inexpensive paper tablet or a favorite diary to write down a list of tasks you should complete every day. Keep it on you at all times.
  5. Look at your list at least three times a day. Some tasks can’t be completed until others are done or until you’ve reached a certain destination, like school or the library. It’s a good idea to keep checking periodically as a reminder.
  6. You’ll find that some tasks just can’t be completed. Don’t stress about those.
  7. At the end of the day, look at your task list. Mark off tasks that have been completed. You’ll have a few left over that can be completed within 15 minutes or so. Complete those.
  8. Tear off the old sheet, bring all unfinished or unfinishable tasks to a new page for the next day for a new list.

3.  Repeating Phone Alarm

When you have an assignment that is due on a regular basis, like a journal entry that is due on over Monday, you should put this assignment in your cell phone calendar and set up an alarm that goes off the day before your task is due. This is a great way to make sure that you never forget those repeating tasks!

4.  The Lazy Meter

The LazyMeter is an online tool that does the same job as the daily task list. You enter all your tasks into the LazyMeter and check off each task as it is completed. This tool allows you to add notes and reminders to each task, and carry them over to a future date when necessary. It’s a great tool for techies who prefer to use technology for reminders.

5.  Gmail Account

Google has lots of tools to make homework easier–and easier to remember. The Gmail account is connected to other tools, like Google Docs and Google Calendar, that will keep you on track and organized. You can set up reminders when those big assignments are due, and you can even have those reminders sent to multiple people. IE:

  • If you want or need to keep parents informed about assignment due dates, you can send them a reminder along with your own.
  • If you’re working on a group project, you can send and receive reminders, and check on each other’s work through Google Docs.

6.  Daily Planner

Most people own planners at some point. But owning a planner won’t keep you organized and on time. You have to know how to use the planner effectively.

  1. Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.
  1. Name your planner. Yes, give it a name. Why? You’re less likely to neglect something with a name and a strong identity. When you name an object you give it more of a presence in your life. Call it something goofy or something sentimental—it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to tell anybody if you don’t want to!
  1. Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
  1. Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you’re still in the classroom. Write the assignment on the page of the due date and put a reminder message a few days before the due date. Don’t put it off!
  1. Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
  1. Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.
  1. Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you don’t put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
  1. Use flags.You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
  1. Don’t discard old pages.You will always have important information in your planner that you’ll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you’ll want to remember those things later on.
  1. Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time.On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.

7. Time Management Tracking Chart

You can use Microsoft Excel to generate colorful depictions of your progress. Learn to make a chart to track grades, points, pages, or any activity. Charts make a vivid display that can serve to motivate you into action!

8.  Goal Tracking Grid

It is so easy to make goals and forget about them. We’re all human!

You can use a goal tracker to stay on track with your goals and make yourself proud. A goal tracker is just a simple grid that contains space for you to write down your long-term and short-term goals. Simply place a check in the appropriate box as you go–and watch those goals become achievements!

9.  Big Wall Calendar

This is another simple but very effective time management tool. The big wall calendar should be placed on a prominent place on your wall. Use color coded markers or stickers to mark important dates or events. You’ll never forget an assignment!

–By Grace Fleming, Homework & Study Tips Expert

How To Put Your Kids (Or Grandkids) On The Fast Track To Success

by Chris Widener

Working with adults (as well as children and teens) for the past 12 years, I have noticed that there are just a few primary struggles that most adults face. I also see how better training as a child and teen could have given them the skills and attitudes that would have prevented the problems that they now face.

The primary areas adults struggle with are:

  1. Money, primarily debt
  2. Lack of disciple, or the inability to do what they want to do, be it weight, money, work, etc.
  3. Relationships

As I see it, much of the way we live our lives is groomed as we grow up. And while we can certainly change, it is harder to do the older we get. The good news? We can put our kids on the fast track to success by diligently applying some basic success skills.

To have successful relationships:

  • Show them unconditional love.
  • Teach them manners.
  • Help them learn to forgive.
  • Help them to be able to focus on and serve others. To have successful finances:
  • Make them EARN money.
  • Have them give money away.
  • Teach them about investing.
  • Teach them to delay self-gratification.
  • Teach them to never have any debt! To help them be successful in discipline:
  • Have them do certain tasks/chores on a regularly scheduled basis.
  • Let them experience discipline and consequences.
  • Don’t protect them from losing.
  • Teach them to eat right and exercise.
  • Teach them to make tough decisions and learn to say “no.”
  • Encourage them to risk failure and try new things.

Pitch the TV