Monday, August 31, 2009

College Credit Card Debt -- Ellie answers on ABC NEWS NOW

As a mom of many (with three in college in 2009) and as "America's Family Financial Expert," I know a bit about college kids and credit card debt. Recent studies indicate that the average college student will graduate with $3,000 in consumer debt (in addition to $20K in student loans). This translates into BIG trouble for those starting out in life.

For example, our son, Daniel, recently graduated from college and then got married right away. Because he did things right and worked very hard, he has no car loans, no consumer debt, no student loan debt and a GREAT degree from the University of Texas. But then he lost his part time job--the one he was hoping would turn into full time work even as he was applying elsewhere (hint: it's not a great time to be a print journalist looking for work). But because he was debt free, he and his new wifey weathered the storm. Within three days, he had in 16 applications and within three weeks he was employed again--this time full time. If he had consumer debt, he would be in trouble.

So how do you navigate your kids toward financial literacy while in college? And how does the new Credit Card ACT impact your student? Click onto the link to hear the answers I gave on ABC NEWS NOW, "Good Money" to these questions and YOUR questions:

My question is why would you want to pay off a credit card while you're in college, making very little if any income? Why not pay the small minimum payment due each month, and pay off the balance after graduation? You would have a much higher paying job with a new college degree, and could pay off the balance (hopefully) within the first six months to a year of employment.
Teresa, Boise, ID

Our oldest daughter is entering her junior year of college, and has so far avoided any credit card debt by very purposefully not having a credit card. She has said that she knows the temptation for impulsive spending would be too great, so she would rather not open that door. While I admire her self-awareness, I am concerned that she is not establishing a "good credit" rating for herself. Is my concern valid? If so, do you have any advice for helping her manage a credit card responsibly?
Debra Devens, MA

Our daughter is a freshman this year. She is carrying 19 units so having a job is very difficult. She is on the waiting list for a job on campus and no one seems interested in hiring only for the weekends. It’s hard for her to get and pay off a credit card with no job. Do you have any suggestions?
Crystal Rough - Lancaster, CA

Is it a good idea to set up a debit card for college students so they can only spend what’s in the check acct? Wouldn’t that limit the % on a regular charge card if over extended?
Mitchell, West Bend, WI

Should parents help their student get a card, give them a set dollar amount, then let the student use the card to buy things, with the parents paying the bill, to build up the student's credit rating? Cherie Cheramie from Norton, OH
When you are a college student and keeping a budget, trying to pay credit card debt, what should you do if you don't have a stable income? Kelly, St. Louis Park, MN
All these readers got FREE copies of "The Little Book of Big Savings" and "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees." CONGRATULATIONS!
Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Win My New Book - Questions on College Credit Cards

Once again, it's time to give you a chance to win a copy of my new book, The Little Book of Big Savings . In case you missed the discussion about paying for college, then take a peek at ABC News Now for last week's media appearance. It answers questions as to how we are putting all of our kids through school debt free.
You'll see from previous blogs that others have already won their free book and this week, I'm throwing in one of my other titles as well: Money Doesn't Grow on Trees.

I'll be guesting on a national show on August 28th talking about: Credit card debt for college students: How to avoid getting buried in debt and finding ways to consistently pay if off even though they don’t have a steady income.

Get creative and ask me your questions on this blog or by emailing them to . If the producer selects your question to have me answer on the air, I'll send you both of my books as a way of saying "thank you." We need to have your questions posted or submitted no later than Tues, Aug 25th at 6:00 PM (PST).

Happy Savings,

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ellie Answers Your Questions on ABC News - "Good Money" Show

I was recently in New York on the set of a fun new show called "Good Money" and I solicited questions from this blog to ask on the air. By now you know if the producer chose your question to read on the air and you also have a free copy of my new book, The Little Book of Big Savings (Waterbrook, 2009) on its way to your mailbox! If you didn't win this time, don't give up! We'll post new ways to win a copy of my books in the future.

Here is a link of me answering your questions on ABC News Now - Good Money. Follow this live link to listen to my answers to the following award winning questions:

  • My husband and I want to get out of debt, but we each have a different idea as to how to go about achieving this. Any advice on how to get on the "same page"? Bren Jones - Vienna, WV
  • said... After all your experiences with counseling couples, can you say that your financial advice has helped to save marriages?If yes, what are the 3 top things that helped those couples?
  • Audrey asked...Here's my question-if one spouse makes more than the other, how can the budget be equalized?
  • L A Hughes said... Dear Ellie Kay,I saw your advice to the married couple who found it difficult to communicate about spending on Nightline. My question concerns couples who are dating, engaged, etc : Do you have any suggestions or tips for how couples can learn discover, understand or achieve common ground about attitudes about money--before marriage--without sacrificing romance, or without seeming pushy?
  • How can you have some fun and adventure with your spouse when you really shouldn't spend money to go out on a date night once a week because you have so many other bills to pay, and it gets boring just sitting home watching a movie and ordering a pizza or worse making your own dinner when it is supposed to be a break from the routine and not work. Kim from Manchester, Maryland.
  • OK, guys, we'll do this again in the future and please remember I didn't choose the questions to air, the producer did!

    Ellie Kay

    America's Family Financial Expert (R)

    Sunday, August 2, 2009

    Tax Free Holidays

    Consumers across the country are searching for ways to cut their spending and still buy what they need, especially when shopping for back-to-school essentials for kids. Many states offer tax free holidays during the back to school shopping season to help families purchase back to school necessities.

    The tax free holidays are just around the corner and if your state offers this, it's important to take full advantage of this holiday. Here are some tips to help:

    FIND OUT THE DEALS - Take advantage of savings opportunities linked by local retailers to the upcoming Tax Free Holiday weekends. Don't worry, there will be lots of ads in your local paper. Some stores like Sears even offer further discounts like $10 off a $50 apparel purchase just for showing your PTA or PTO card or student id. Be sure you go shopping prepared with these forms of identification to get your discounts.

    FIND OUT LIMITATIONS - Each state has its limitations, so ask the cashier at your retailer what the rules are for your state. For example, some states will only allow up to $100 on any single item of clothing and only up to $750 on a computer. So know the rules by googling your state, "tax free holiday" and "2009."

    FIND LAYAWAY - Some stores such as K-mart have reinstituted layaway in direct response to the recession. This option varies from family to family but our family tries to minimize credit card debt and layaway is another option that helps avoid consumer debt.

    Upcoming Tax Free Holiday Dates


    Vermont 8/22
    Georgia 7/30 to 8/2
    Mississippi 7/31 to 8/1
    D C 8/1 to 8/9
    Alabama 8/7 to 8/9
    Iowa 8/7 to 8/8
    Louisiana 8/7 to 8/8
    Missouri 8/7 to 8/9
    New Mexico 8/7 to 8/9
    North Carolina 8/7 to 8/9
    Oklahoma 8/7 to 8/9
    South Carolina 8/7 to 8/9
    Tennessee 8/7 to 8/9
    Virginia 8/7 to 8/9

    Happy Savings!

    Ellie Kay

    America's Family Financial Expert (R)