Smart College Planning

College tuition is not the only rising expense for your child’s education. Preparation and admission costs have gone through the roof. Test prep for college entrance exams can consume hundreds to thousands of dollars. College counselors and pre-college summer programs that allow your child to load up on college credits are among other costs. Add to these things are the application costs where many students apply to a dozen or more schools. Average application costs of $41 are typical but many are as high as $75.

Now the real costs: Tuition, fees, room and board are $65,000/year at the most expensive, $19,000/year at in-state public schools (32,000/year for out of state public) and $42,000 for private schools. This does not include the ever black hole of “miscellaneous expenses” (party time, football games, clothes, and auto expense, parking, cell phones). If the kids stay at home with you the real costs to you for room and board (plus a/c and heating) is about the same at college. Look at U.S. News “best value” schools to determine not only the costs but available financial aid packages.

Here is a great website to start: this site helps a student match to the best college “return on investment”. A student should start the college search process in their sophomore or junior year. The majority of assistance on this site will help match students with over 3.6 million scholarships and 90,000 internships. Here is another site that is for free. provides more by way of scholarship information. One more site: College Affordability, LLC. which is a good college funding information website. This is a HUGE investment, so make sure your kids have some “SKIN” in the game. Make them work part time, have them do all the research for scholarships and parents set a limit on how much you will contribute.

Best of luck!!!

Plastic Payback

Let’s say you use a credit card that give you double miles. You can run up $25,000 in purchases ($50,000 points). Those relate to $500 in airline ticket credits, so, you purchase miles in this case at $25,000 and redeem them at $500. In this case you spend $1 and get a benefit of 2¢. You might be better off asking for a 5% discount and putting that money away for the next trip.
How rewarding is your rewards credit card? Comparing 100 cards, the website “ValuePenguin” concluded the best dollar-for-dollar payback came with hotel-affiliated cards. However, the best choice for the consumer who spends less than $24,000 a year may be a card offering 2 percent cash back on most or all purchases. Airline-affiliated cards have the lowest return value.

Saving with American Express to Commute

Nowadays, our society has become dependent on using vehicles to travel to any location.

Catching Uber has become the most popular choice for transportation. Whether it’s to commute to work, airport, social gathering and with the Uber app it allows you to make an automatic payment for the fare. According, to the website “Value Penguin” American Express has a couple of promotional offers with Uber that can save you up to 5-6% discount on fares.

You should also be aware that paying with the Amex you can earn 2 Membership Rewards points on every $1 spent on Uber, and you are also offered a discount of up to $30 on your first fare. Here’s how it works on the Uber App: You register your new account with your credit card information. With the Amex credit card you automatically receive the discount that will be expiring July 31, 2018.
There are other card companies offering rewards that could help you save a few extra bucks.
Below is the web link to the complete article.

A Boost for Low Credit Scores

Millions of consumers with credit tarnished by medical debt could soon see their scores increase. FICO, the nation’s top credit score provider, is changing its scoring formula by the end of the year. Consumers with sterling credit history except for overdue medical expenses – either now or in the past – would likely get a 25-point boost. A recent study by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found medical debt unfairly hurt too many credit reports. Part of the problem with medical debt is that people find themselves in collections because of miscommunication over who is responsible for it – you or the insurance company.

Homebuyers may not see a benefit right away, however, because it’s not clear when lenders will adopt the new score model. An older couple had to pay a higher mortgage interest rate because a medical bill of less than $100 had slipped through the cracks and hurt their credit score. They weren’t even aware of it. It cost them over $120 a month more.

Why Debt Matters:
About a third of your credit score is decided by the amount of debt you owe.
This is how it is scored:

Accumulated Debt: 30%
Payment History: 35%
Other: 35%

Saving a Dollar

Travel for Less
October provides a powerful bang for your travel buck. Because tourist demand is down in this “shoulder season” (which also features nice weather and smaller off-peak crowds), some resorts offer discounts of up to 70 percent, reports It’s also the only month in which cruise prices are consistently extremely cheap,” adds And October is among the years cheapest times to fly – and a good time to book holiday flights.

FYI for DIYers
Do-it-yourselfers: Before buying a tool that you may never need again, visit for a list of more than 80 “tool-lending libraries” across the U.S. Some require a membership fee, but it’s often less than the cost of that specialized tool you need for plumbing, carpentry and other home repairs. Or try one of the chains such as Pep Boys or AutoZone, where, with a deposit that’s refunded on return of the gadget, gear heads can borrow a wide range of automotive tools.

Curb College Costs
Need money for a child’s college? Find free information about available scholarships at and You can also get free help at with filing the application that determines eligibility for all federal student aid. Beware of any financial-aid consultants or services that require advance “application” or “processing” fees, or guarantee a scholarship. These financial aid scams bilk some 350,000 families per year.