Smart Money Smart Kids Archives - Eva Varga

May 2, 2016

College tuition is expensive. I attended a state university in the 90s and even then, the cost of tuition, fees, and books was more than my parents could afford with three children and a blue-collar income.

I was compensated for my time in writing this post but it’s an awesome giveaway. I really hope one of my readers win!
Sports Scholarship?We all want what is best for our kids. When it comes to sports, though, sometimes our parenting instincts get a little carried away. I am sure we all know parents who are pushing their kids to excel at their sport.

Only 2% of high school athletes are awarded sports scholarships at NCAA schools.

Sadly, only six sports offer “full-ride” scholarships: football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, tennis, and women’s gymnastics. Most college athletes have only partial scholarships. Even then, the amount of time they spend training and practicing their sport can severely impact their performance in the classroom.

A relation was awarded a “full-ride” scholarship in volleyball. She originally dreamed of becoming a doctor but the course load was not possible with her volleyball schedule. She graduated with a degree in business and after graduating, realized she would need to get an advanced degree (on her own dime) to be marketable. My brother in law also sought an additional degree after graduating with his bachelors degree on a track scholarship.

CNBC says you have a better chance of being admitted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford than receiving an athletic scholarship in a major sport.

My kids are both swimmers. My son has had great success early and some of our team parents have encouraged us to pursue a more focused training regimen. Sports can be a great teacher. Our kids learn about teamwork, discipline, work ethic, being a good loser, and so many other important life lessons.

However, we are not chasing a scholarship. Swimming is important to us but we made a decision as a family long ago to strive for a simplified, joyful life. Conflicts arise regularly and we therefore don’t participate in all the swim meets on the team schedule. We weigh the pros and cons and make choices as a family.

It is inadvisable to spend more money on your child’s sports than you are putting in their college fund.

So — with all that said, how does a family provide for the higher education of their children. How can we manage to pay the rising cost of tuition?
Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable)

Teaching Our Kids About Money

One of the most important steps to financial independence is teaching our kids about money. We have never given our kids an allowance, expecting them to earn commission for their hard work when they were yet toddlers. 

We began applying Dave Ramsey principles to our life in earnest last year after listening to the audio book Smart Money, Smart Kids. Ramsey encourages kids to earn their own money and to set aside a percentage for their college education by earning commissions as well as through entrepreneurial endeavors.

Earning Commissions

Chores are something everyone in the family does to contribute to the family.  Chores not only teach responsibility but are part of being needed and valued by the family.

Developing Entrepreneurs

Being a young entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to think of a new idea to make money. It just means you need to find a way to make money doing something you love. You have to think out of the box a little.
Carson-Dellosa College Saving Contest

College Savings

In addition to encouraging our kids to save their own money for college, we also set aside a percentage of our income into their college savings plans. Two smart ways to save for your kids’ college are 529 college savings funds or ESAs (Education Savings Accounts). These are both tax-advantaged savings vehicles that let you save money for your kids’ education expenses.

My daughter Geneva will be entering high school this fall, so college is something we have been talking about more regularly. Her dad and I set up a 529 college savings fund for her when she was just an infant and we’ve been adding to it gradually every year. In addition to her own savings, she has begun keep a list of potential scholarships for which she will be eligible.

I’m happy that together we have some savings earmarked for her higher education, but of course, it’s not enough. We know we will have to supplement by paying out of our earnings and hoping for scholarships. Our ultimate goal is to NOT take out student loans and we are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make this happen.

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If I win, the money will go straight into her 529 college savings plan.

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September 25, 20151

Patrick and I have always been careful with our finances. Making smart money decisions has not always been easy, however. I had a significant amount of credit card debt in college. When we married, we vowed not to let debt break us. In fact, we even lived with Patrick’s parents for three years as we paid off our college loans!

About a year ago, we started listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts. Hearing couples and families all over the country scream, “I’m debt free!” has been really inspiring. I love his Seven Baby Steps. We’ve been working on steps 4 (savings for retirement) and 5 (college funding) simultaneously for years – even before we knew of Dave Ramsey.

Smart Money Smart Kids: Applying Dave Ramsey Strategies to Our Life @EvaVarga.netWhile we were living in Redding, we were renting so step 6 (paying off house) didn’t really apply to us. Now that we’ve moved back to Oregon and are in the process of buying a home once more, we have made owning our home outright a family priority. Our goal is to pay off our home before the kids begin college full-time. That gives us just 5 years!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be describing how we have applied Dave Ramsey strategies to our life. I begin today with the resources we’ve used getting started. 

Money Smart Kids

Dave Ramsey has written many books on personal finance and budgeting. Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money is the first book written with his daughter, Rachel. In his usual writing style, Dave presents a no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is guide to raising money-smart kids. His daughter offers story after story of what life was like growing up as Dave Ramsey’s daughter. I just loved her! Her stories give the book humor and soften Dave’s usual dry approach.

We listened to the audio version while traveling to Portland with the kiddos several weeks ago. We have been using many of the strategies he describes such as:

  • Not giving the kids an allowance but expecting them to earn their own money by doing work (Dave calls this “earning a commission”)
  • Expecting them to save and pay for things they want

We’d stop the audio periodically on our trip and talk over the points presented. My son’s ears perked up when he heard of Dave’s 401 plan. When your teenager starts driving and wants his own car, the money the child has saved for this purchase is matched dollar for dollar. In other words, if your teen saves $5,000, then you match them with $5,000, and they can buy a $10,000 car.

My son quickly asked, “Instead of buying a car, would you match the money I save to buy a grand piano?” Absolutely little man. Absolutely.

Our conversations quickly evolved into brainstorming entrepreneurial ideas. “I’m only 10 years old! How can I make money?” Next week, I will share some of the creative ideas we came up with – ways kids can earn money of their own.

Personal Finance Course

Throughout his books and podcasts, Dave recommends his other publications and materials. I was certainly intrigued when I learned of his Foundations in Personal Finance, a high school personal finance course designed specifically for homeschoolers.

Much to my delight, this product was recently available for a significant discount through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. While the offer has now expired, they have invited him to return. You can request a reminder from the co-op when they offer is available again.

Please note, as my kids are only 8th and 6th grades, we aren’t using this material presently. However, we look forward to implementing this curriculum in a few years.

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Lessons Learned from my Father