We’ve all heard about students getting through college, not finding jobs and facing mounds of debt.
Was the education worth it?
But what happens to students who start college, don’t finish, and still have lots of debt?
Ben Casselman, writing for The Wall Street Journal, says these dropouts’ job prospects are a whole lot worse than those for kids who finish college.
Casselman’s article presumes the student’s decision to drop out was his. But, in fact, many parents are pulling their kids out of school for financial reasons.
It brings to mind the financial services ad on TV, in which the father, worried about losing his job, feels pressure to pull his daughter out of school for a semester or two. He knows his daughter is enjoying her college experience. Then, dad gets word that his daughter has made the dean’s list. He then decides to work with his financial adviser to figure out a way to keep her in school.
Let’s take a look at this situation. First, if a student is already in school, and doing well, even though debt is being accumulated, would there be a great difference between paying off a $10,000 debt with reduced job prospects, and paying off a $40,000 debt, with better job prospects?
As a parent, did you and your child talk long and hard BEFORE the student went to school, about how his or her education would be paid for? Did you and your child discuss what would happen if dad, mom or both lost jobs? Would they drain their retirement account(s) –probably not a wise decision –to pay for their child’s education?
Would the student assume ALL the debt for his education, or does the student expect help from his or her parents to cover that? A student may get his or her first lesson in responsibility if he or she KNOWS he or she owns that debt. He or she may think twice about what they study in school, how hard they will work at school, whether they will get a part-time job while in school and what other sacrifices he or she will make.
If a student wants to major in, say, the liberal arts – students are urged to follow their passion – is there a discussion among student, parents, high school or college counselors and other trusted adults about realistic career options? If the realistic career options are few, and the student still wants to study, say, music or drama, is there a discussion about what the student will do to earn a living after college, while he or she pursues his or her passion?
There are oodles of options for any of these situations. First, discuss the student’s hobbies, to see whether there are possibilities of earning money with them. For example, is the student gifted in music, but also likes to tinker with cars? Perhaps the hobby will help the student make a living, until the student’s passion becomes monetized.
Second, there are many ways to make money regardless of education. To check out one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Having a financial Plan B early in one’s career may give a student time freedom, and financial freedom to pursue his or her passion sooner rather than later, and also pay for his or her liberal arts education. This may also be a great option for the student who has already dropped out, and is saddled with debt. It may not matter how dismal that former student’s job prospects are, if the former student sees the program and diligently works it.
Most importantly, it’s paramount to make decisions on how to deal with all eventualities BEFORE the student starts college. If the student, for some reason, doesn’t do well in school and has to leave, plan early for what will happen next. Parents, meanwhile, have to decide how their child’s education would be paid for – regardless of what happens to their job(s).
The moral: plan early. Don’t force a situation no one wants, without some backup plan. Not all college educations are created equal. Passions don’t always produce incomes. It’s always better to plan your life, and make your income work around it, as opposed to planning your income, and working your life in around it. Sometimes, though, you plan your income and eventually gain your financial freedom.
Plan for surprises. They are sure to come.


What if …
You could have all the money in the world!
What if …
You could have all the love in the world!
What if …
You could have all the friends in the world.
First, don’t wish. You have to first take control of your life. People wish for circumstances, but circumstances are none of your business. You have to accept circumstances, and deal with how you are going to react to them.
The victims of the recent storm Sandy WISH they were completely recovered. In fact, many are still without power. Many still face a mess to clean up. Also, as news reports indicate, the storm is creating an unusually high demand for used cars, because the storm damaged so many people’s cars beyond repair. The price of used cars will climb nationwide as a result. The silver lining here is that some people who may have had their eye on a used car may now decide to buy new.
Another silver lining: millions of charitable donations are coming in to help the victims. They will be forever grateful.
Tempers have flared a bit as power is slow to be restored. News reports indicate that offers to help from non-union power crews from other states have been declined. No one knows how much more quickly power would be restored if certain work rules were not in place.
Still, most in the affected area will eventually recover and prosper. Why? Because they are resilient. What happened to them was anticipated, yet unstoppable. Preparations may have been better in hindsight, but no one really knew how much damage there was going to be.
All the money in the world, all the love in the world and all the friends in the world could not stop the storm. Yet they, combined, will make recovery more bearable.
Since all the money in the world could not have stopped the storm, what good is it? Having money for money’s sake is useless. But money can help you do things that you might not otherwise do. All the money in the world won’t bring power back to you sooner, if you are still out from the storm. But it will allow you to help your affected friends and neighbors who are not as lucky as you are.
During such a tragedy, we see acts of cruelty and kindness. Those with money can be cruel or kind. If you are among them, you have a choice. Choose wisely. Choose the latter.
If you don’t have a lot of money, and would like to have the freedom money can give you, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll learn how to achieve financial freedom, and you’ll hear many more stories of kindness than cruelty.
If you are stuck in the storm’s aftermath in the cold and dark, take heart that this, too, will pass. You may have to get a new car. You may have to get a new house. But if you are still alive, take solace that it could have been much worse. It was for some who live near you.
It’s natural to be angry, but anger wastes energy. Channel that energy into helping others as best you can. Even if you don’t think you are able to help others, you have more ability to help than you think. Do what you can.
Strive for amassing all the love and real friends that you can. If you are successful, to quote Team National founder Dick Loehr, eventually, the money will chase you down.


Those in their late 30s today are more worried about retirement than those in the Baby Boom Generation, which is retiring, or on the verge of retiring, now.
A Pew Research Center survey, as reported by Hope Yen of The Associated Press, says that about 49 percent of those between 35 and 44 said they had little or no confidence that they will have enough money for retirement.
As discussed last week, time is on your side if you are in this group. There are steps you can take to stave off disaster. We talked about presuming your job will change and presuming any pension promises made to you will be broken. If neither happens, and you prepared for the worst, it’s a bonus for you.
But there are two other areas about which you should think if you are in this age group, and are worried about retirement.
Your spending habits. We talked last week about the “need” to keep up with all the latest technology. Do your gadgets last you a long time, or are you constantly trading up for the newest stuff? If something works for you, even though it may be “old” technology, sticking with it may help your retirement. The money you’d spend on upgrades will be more useful working for you so you can retire on your terms.
But there are other spending habits to think about. Lots of folks like Starbucks, or other premium-priced coffee. When your grandparents or parents were your age, coffee was coffee. It might have cost a dime in your grandparents’ day, and up to 50 cents in your parents’ youth. For that dime, or half-buck, that you spent in a coffee shop, you got all the coffee you wanted. Unlimited refills were yours. Today, you pay $2 for a cup of coffee. Many places still give you unlimited refills, but that idea is trending out. Starbucks never gives free refills. Other places are charging, say, 50 cents for every refill. Sure, the coffee shops and restaurants need to make a living, but a cup of coffee a day from a shop can add up to real money over a year. Do the math: $2, multiplied by, 250 workdays (5 days a week over 50 weeks) is $500. Put $500 a year into your retirement account starting at age 35, and if you work until you are 65 (30 years) is $15,000 in contributions over that time.
Say those contributions that money doubled every 10 years in your retirement account. In the first 10 years, $5,000 in contributions doubled to $10,000. That $10,000, plus the second 10-year contributions of $5,000, doubled becomes $30,000. That $30,000, plus $5,000 in contributions, doubles to $70,000. That’s not much for a retirement nest egg, but you augmented your nest egg by that amount, just by skipping the daily cup of coffee on the way to work.
Remember, your grandparents made a pot of coffee at home before work, and put it into a Thermos that kept it hot all day. You could buy your own bags of whatever coffee you like, and try putting it into a Thermos. Sure, it’s a pain in the neck to carry a Thermos, and your friends may laugh, but you may have the last laugh at retirement.
Finally, your free time. We all love free time to watch TV, play sports, enjoy our families etc. But what if you took some of that free time to work on your fortune? Retirement would not only not be an issue, you might even be able to retire VERY YOUNG! There are many ways to leverage your time into activities that could produce a lifetime, residual income. To check out one of the best ways, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. It’s thinking outside the box, but if you are still young, and fretting about retirement, you have to think of alternatives you’d never thought of before.
It used to be risky to start a business. But today, starting a business appears less risky than trying to keep a good job for 30 or 40 years. If you can keep your regular job for as long as you can, and start a business on the side, you may have the best of all worlds.
This is not your grandfather’s, or your father’s, job market. Like the gadgets we like, jobs change. Companies are finding ways to hire fewer people, no matter the skill level. Pensions are changing. The defined-benefit pensions, paid for entirely by the employer, are disappearing quickly. Employees have to contribute toward their own retirement.
If you are between 35 and 44 years old, you have time. Little changes in how you live and work could make the difference in when and how you retire. Let your friends laugh at you. Retirement planning is no laughing matter. For if you do what you can for you, you’ll have the last laugh.


If you are 30-something, are you worried about your financial security in retirement?
A survey by the Pew Research Center, as reported by Hope Yen of The Associated Press, says Americans in their late 30s are more worried about retirement than those of the Baby Boom Generation.
The 30-somethings should be concerned. However, they have time to do the right things.
If you are in this group, think about the following: your job, your pension (if you have been promised one), your lifestyle, your spending habits, your free time.
First, your job. No matter how “good” your job is, it may not last forever. Your forebears saw complete industries go from thriving to dead – or at least on life support — in a generation. If you have or had grandparents who worked in a factory, is that factory still around? Remember, your grandparents thought that job was as good as gold, and it probably was FOR THEM. But they may have lived to see those jobs disappear – something they never expected when they were your age.
No matter what industry you are in now, EXPECT it to change. New technology is making the way we do things differ by the day. What you are doing now may not even resemble what you may be doing as you approach retirement. Can you live with that? Will you see the changes BEFORE they hit you, so you can act accordingly? It’s difficult to anticipate change you don’t know is coming, but regardless of how your job, or industry, changes, your expectation of change will serve you well.
Second, your pension. If you are lucky enough to have a pension as part of your employment package, count your blessings. However, at this stage of your life, your pension is little more than a promise, unless you are contributing your own money toward it. We are seeing pension promises broken every day, and those older than you are having retirement planning disintegrate before their eyes.
Do you have a parent who is at or near retirement age but has to keep working because everything they’d worked for has all but disappeared? From your vantage point, you can learn from this. Start now to save for your retirement. How YOU prepare your own resources for retirement will make a difference in how and when you will be able to retire. Remember, the retirement planning that you do, with your own money, can’t be taken from you. It can go up and down with the markets, but your own money and efforts are yours forever. It’s a promise you can keep for yourselves.
Promises from employers can be broken. If your parents have or had an employer that is keeping its pension promise, they are very lucky. Even unionized or government pensions are coming under scrutiny. If you are employed in a unionized or government environment, and you are in your 30s, don’t expect the promises made to you today to hold up at, say, age 60. If you plan that things will go away, and they don’t, that’s a bonus for you.
Third, your lifestyle. In this age of ever-changing gadgets, people wait in long lines for fancier phones, etc. People want what’s hot. They want it even though they know that the minute they get it, something else will make it obsolete. When your grandparents and parents were young, they may have bought a TV or a radio, or a stereo system. They expected to use it for decades without replacing it. Today, people replace their gadgets annually, if not more frequently, so they can have the latest, trendy thing. If you have a gadget that works for you, think long and hard before replacing it. Your friends may laugh at you for having “old” technology, but you’ll have the last laugh when you put the money that you would have spent on the newest gadget into your retirement fund.
We’ll talk more about spending habits and free time next week. Meanwhile, as you ponder your retirement and fret about what it will look like, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. This may be one way you can put your mind at ease when it comes to retirement. Who knows? It might even put you on the road to retiring EARLY!
Time is on your side. Things you do – or don’t do – today may determine the type of retirement you will have. Think hard, and choose wisely.