What Are You Talking About?

When is the last time you had a thought-provoking conversation? These days, I find life happening so rapidly that I don’t know when my next good convo is coming nor who it will be with. I can usually count on between four and five a month (outside of home or work), between chatting with Sean, Maul, Vince, C.B.3, Juju, and Barry. While that’s more than many people I know have,  I miss undergrad and the think tank known as UNCG. I vividly recall going to the basements of Reynolds and Phillips-Hawkins to talk with other students from the wee hours of the morning until the sun came up. Or there were the countless times that the long hand on the clock hit the same spot two or three times as I sat in the cafeteria chatting with Devon or Jakiya.

Ideas flowed freely in college. We had time to think without the burdens that we would come to find accompany adulthood. We didn’t have to worry about bills. The only consequence to quitting jobs at that point for many was having to mooch for more hooch, a favor that would eventually be repaid when our generous friend quit his/her job and we were reemployed.

We have to create that free thought as (true) adults. Some people say childhood is the best time of lifetimes but I challenge that; College, for those of us who are privileged enough to go, is the best era. It is when we can be idealistic while having some semblance of control over our lives. No one can tell us when to go to bed, when to come home, or who to hang out with. We go into classrooms with people of all backgrounds and debate issues that actually matter but have been written off by the world because too much of the world doesn’t believe in happiness and change anymore. Life in college is inspiring.

My challenge to you is to make time to grab coffee or a drink with a friend who brings the best out of you sometime before the end of July. If you can’t get together because of distance, hop on the phone. Either way, without forcing it, make an effort to have an organic conversation with someone that you know feels comfortable challenging you and vice versa. Share what books you’re reading. Talk about politics, socioeconomics, and current events (without dwelling too long on the depressing state of affairs unless you’re figuring out a way to positively impact them). Discuss a business idea and have your friend shoot holes through it.

One of the many true things I learned from my fraternity is that, “college days swiftly pass, imbued with memories fond.” How can we keep those memories coming for years after?

Make free thought that stems from conversations a priority.

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Paying For College: 21 Ways To Preserve Wealth

Great read in Forbes by William Baldwin. I wish I would have seen this 7 years ago but since I didn’t, I’ll just share it. Click here for the full article, including detailed links.

This guide to college finance is an expanded version of a story that appeared in Forbes magazine in January 2013. It will give you a quick survey of the opportunities and pitfalls that lie on the road to higher education

Read it if you expect your family to qualify for financial aid and read it if you don’t. It explains those tricky aid formulas, it shows how even prosperous students might wind up with need-based aid, and it offers tax strategies that apply across the board.

1. How the Financial Aid Formulas Work
Know the differences between Fafsa, Profile and Consensus.

2. 529 Plans
You’ll be a winner if you find a cheap plan and get a state income tax deduction.

3. Federal Tax Credits and Deductions
To extract the most, you must plan in advance.

4. Five Rules to Protect Your Retirement
It’s tough to fill your 401(k) account when you’re getting gigantic college bills.

5. Aid Formulas and AGI
Make your reported income go down and your child’s financial aid will go up.

6. Merit Aid
It might save you $40,000 to $80,000 to go to a slightly less prestigious school.

7. Lower Cost Degrees in Europe
For a cheap degree, go abroad.

8. The Transfer Tactic
How to subtract $40,000 from the cost of a degree from a state university.

9. Help from Grandparents
Thinking of helping out a grandson or granddaughter? Structure your gift so that it doesn’t mess up the student’s financial aid.

10. Coverdell Accounts
These are stupid.

11. The Gap Year
How to engineer a profitable bunching of your kids in college.

12. Own a Business
Self-employed parents do very well in the competition for financial aid. They also get tax breaks.

13. Income Based Repayment
A tax-free fringe in certain jobs: Your education loans get forgiven.

14. The Three-Year Degree
Can you knock a year off your B.A. study? That would save you a lot of money.

15. Saving Beyond the 529
Sometimes it’s wise not to lock all your college money up in a 529 account.

16. Utma and Ugma Accounts
Custodial accounts make sense only if you are certain your child won’t be applying for financial aid.

17. The Mortgage Paydown Maneuver
Can you protect savings by putting them into your house? Yes, at certain elite schools.

18. Qualifying for In-state Tuition
How one family saved $20,000 and another might save $196,000.

19. The Military Academies
There’s a reason why military academies are hard to get into: Their economics are compelling.

20. Discounts for Academics
With a well-chosen parent, a student can save $100,000-plus.

21. Section 127 Employer Aid
How does a student get tax-free help on tuition? Through a job.

Source: Forbes