Monday, July 28, 2008

Baby Wipes - Tell Your Friends!

Babies! I LOVE babies!

When I married my husband, Bob, I got a "three for one" deal that included a great guy--and two babies.Step-daughters, that is...add five more babies in seven years and you get a total of seven! Now, thanks to that original "three for one" deal, I'm a grandma (should I say step-grandma? I'm not old enough to be a grandma!). We have an adventurous grandson and a beautiful baby girl (who has Bob's eyes). One of the tips that helped Bob and I so much when we had all those babies (and three in diapers at once) was my homemade baby wipes recipe. I get more requests for the following recipe than I do for practically any other resource.

I know that it can save the average family about $300 a year and you know that the ingredients are safe. Plus, it's eco-friendly as well because you don't have to keep discarding baby wipe packaging! So share this with your friends, family and everyone who loves babies!

Ellie Kay's Baby Wipe Recipe (C) 2008

1 Round plastic container with lid (about 6 inches tall and wide enough to accommodate 1/2 roll of paper towels)
1 Roll of heavy-duty paper towels (no cheap store brands)
4 Tablespoons baby oil
4 Tablespoons baby shampoo
4 Tablespoons baby bath
1 to 2 cups of water (depending on the absorbency of the towel)

Cut a small X (about an inch long) in the plastic lid of the container. Cut the paper towels in half to make two short rolls of towels. Use one and save one. Put the first three ingredients in the bottom of the container and add one cup of water. Stir well. Place the paper towel, cut side up, in the water for a few minutes. Then turn it over, cut side down, to let the other side absorb the liquid. Let sit for five minutes. If the roll of paper towel still has dry portions on it, then keeping adding water, ½ cup at a time, at five minute intervals, until towels are completely damp (not dripping, just damp). After the center of the paper towel tube is wet, gently pull it out of the center of the towels. Pull the towels from the center, and thread through the X in the lid of the plastic container. Seal. Will keep fresh for up to one month.

Ellie Kay

America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

College Crunches - The Four Disciplines of Debt Free Education

When people ask me how we are putting our kids through college debt free, the answer is multi-fold. First, we train our children from a young age that going to school, doing your homework and getting good grades is their primary “job.” By teaching them a good work ethic, we are laying the groundwork for scholarships and more. Secondly, we send them to schools that we can afford or where they get the best scholarship offers to cover the most expenses. Thirdly, we have saved a modest amount of college money to help them pay their room and board and partial tuition in some cases. Lastly, but certainly not least, we require that they work part time in the summers or during the school year (through a work/study program or a regular job) in order to do their part in paying for college. By implementing these four disciplines, each of our children are set to graduate debt free. Of the three that are going to college now, we have over ½ million in scholarships and if the last two stay true to their goals, our kids would have garnered over a million dollars in scholarships by the time they are through with school.

In any discussion of college costs, it’s important to keep priorities straight:
Parents need to leave yourself some fun money for retirement. How else can you afford that mechanical bull riding lesson and those parasailing flights (been there, done that, LOVE it)?
I really believe that you, as a parent, should try to avoid borrowing on your future in order to pay for your child’s future. After all that information we had earlier in this chapter about investments for retirement, why would you want to take one of your greatest investments and leverage it for college expenses? Yet millions of parents make that devastating financial choice every year. I’m talking about avoiding any college funding plan that includes a home equity loan, a HELOC (home equity line of credit) or refinancing of an existing home mortgage. These options reduce the amount of equity in your home, increasing the risk of possible foreclosure and you incur costs in interest charges that may cost you more if the term on the new mortgage is greater than the remaining term on the existing mortgage. For example, if there is ten years left on the mortgage and parents get a new 30 year loan. Furthermore, if parents choose to pull out enough money in equity for the first year of for four years of college all at once, then parents paying interest on money that won’t be needed until the upcoming sophomore, junior and senior years. Instead, look at the following options to pay for college.

The College Mantra
When I began a young adult, got married and began having kids (in that order) I was first exposed to the whole idea of “the college my child gets accepted to.” As a mom of many who has already launched a few college bound kiddos, I’m still hearing, “What college did they get accepted into?” The part of that question that amazes me is that the answer that is most impressive are also the most expensive (Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc). These schools have averages four year costs of $188,000 (Columbia); $240,000 (Harvard); $186,000 (Stanford) $193,000 (Yale). While an average of 40% of the students who attend either get financial aid, grants or scholarships, they only average out to assistance of $9600 per year. This leaves a boatload that the student and mom/dad owe for college. Most of this is usually in loans of some kind. So then the average student graduating from some of the most prestigious colleges have student loans upwards to $100,000.
So why is the question: What college did they get accepted into?
The question should be: What college did they get accepted into that they can afford?
Why do you want to leverage your future (through HELOCS or loans) or leverage their future (through massive consumer debt) when it will take many years of earning power, for them to pay back those loans? One of the most common problems I hear of have to do with the burden of dual student loans in a marriage.

I'm doing what I can to help families minimize student loan debt so that both the parents and the graduates can have a better quality of life with more flexibility once they start those new careers. For more practical aspects of very specific ways you can pay for college. Please email and put "College Crunches" in the subject line. Our offices will send you a wonderful resource file that I wrote to help you fund a quality education for a fraction of the debt.

Ellie Kay

"America's Family Financial Expert" (R)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Money Savings Kids!

Well, my kids are getting in on the money savings act--literally! Jonathan went to Texas to visit his older brother, Daniel. While he was there, Daniel and his fiancee', Jenn, decided to give Jonathan "the" money savings tips talk. The took some tips from one of my books and make a short film about savings money! So funny!

Please enjoy watching "The Hendersons" as they teach their son about saving money!

You'll see that the apple doesn't fall far from the money tree!

Ellie Kay
"America's Family Financial Expert" (R)