Advice for all the Momma’s that have kids leaving for college

By June Headley-Greenlaw

I wanted to share some advice in this blog for all the parents that just moved their kids into college.  I feel like having taught a freshman orientation class at the University of South Carolina for 14 years and having moved two of my own children into college; I may have some insight.

Here are some things you should encourage your new college student to do:

  • Have them get to know their instructors early in the semester.
    • Go visit instructors at the beginning of the semester, don’t wait until you need them
    • Visit them during office hours and introduce yourself and let them know how important their class is to you.
    • Instructors are people too and they are teaching for a reason.  Most of them want to guide students and they enjoy getting to know them.
  • Take stock of all the resources available to students.  Most campuses offer Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions for classes they have identified to be particularly difficult for students.  There may be free tutoring available.
  • Advise your child to make use of as many meal swipes as possible.  If they don’t have time for a meal, go get some fruit, chips, granola bars or whatever else might be offered that you can take in your book bag to class with you or back to your room for a late night snack.  You’ve already paid for it!
  • Have your student do a “schedule at a glance”.  Print out blank calendars and fill in all assignments from each syllabus so that you can see now where your trouble spots will be and prepare for them.  This is an assignment I gave to all my freshman and many of them verbally thanked me for forcing them to get it done.
  • familyRemind them often to use good judgement.  Moving away from home is tough and there are a lot of pressures in their first year.  It’s easy to get caught up in activities that they don’t realize may be detrimental to them later.  I often used the phrase in class “remember decisions you make today could affect the rest of your life”.  I meant that very literally and gave them examples.  The decision tonight to have unprotected sex could lead to an unexpected pregnancy and could change the rest of your life.

Remind yourself not to be hurt if they don’t call often.  They will be extremely busy getting acclimated, making friends, and doing all the things for themselves that you would normally do for them.  They still love you.  They are just doing their best to show you that they are all grown up!

Our road to debt freedom

By June Headley Greenlaw

Hold onto your teeth, my friends.  I’m about to tell you a story that will make them want to fall to the floor!  About six years ago, after a combination of life challenges, my husband (Jeff) and I found ourselves with $125,043 worth of credit card debt.  We had almost no equity in our house and two cars we were making payments on while my husband had been without a paycheck for about a year.

Hubby and I are both on “do over” marriages after first marriages that expired at around 20 years.  We both brought in hunks of debt from our starter marriages. There were lots of things that contributed to this mountain of debt that I won’t bore you with because we all have them.  They are called LIFE!

We were determined to get to debt freedom by the time I was retirement eligible, which is now 25 days away, and we have come pretty close.  We are literally just months away from having all credit cards paid off!  We are about one year away from having all cars paid off!  We now have a big chunk of equity in our house!  I wanted to share our story so that anyone finding themselves in that dark hole of debt could gain some hope that you can dig out too!

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The first thing we did was create a spreadsheet that listed all of the things we had a balance on and what payments were being made to each of them every month.  I had the spreadsheet incorporate the interest rates so we could accurately see what was happening to the balances after every payment.  We set it up with a goal of having everything paid off in three years.  Lofty, I know!  As you can surmise from the fact that the first paragraph of this post says “about six years ago”, it didn’t work as well as planned, but it HAS worked.  We now owe less than $8,000 to credit cards!

I won’t provide the color for your rose-colored glasses and tell you that it was easy.  It wasn’t!  No, we didn’t file bankruptcy.  We had to say no to our kids a lot.  Heck, we had to say no to ourselves a lot.  But with some hard work and determination, we’re doing it!  I took on extra jobs outside the house that even included selling Rainbow vacuum cleaners.  I still love that machine!  Hubby picked up nearly all the jobs inside the house.

I read a lot of “get out of debt” things on the web and after waffling back and forth about the best approach (paying off highest interest rates or smallest debt first), we went with the smallest debt first so we could keep ourselves inspired by shredding new cards each time one was paid off.  You can’t shred them before they are paid off because you might need them to play the “move your balance” game.  We did that a LOT to take advantage of lower interest rates for short periods of time.  You need to be careful when doing that because there are generally fees associated with those transactions and you’ll need to evaluate how much money it will really save you.

I think the most important thing is to create a list or spreadsheet of your balances and be able to watch them go down.  It helps keep you grounded when you want to fly off the handle and spend money on “wants” vs. “needs”.  There is nothing more empowering than cutting up that card!

 

What being 50 means to me

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet June:

By June Headley-Greenlaw

So it happened – I turned 50 on July 16th!  I’m counting among my birthday gifts finding out that I was chosen to be a new blogger.  I am excited to share some of my experiences with all of you.  Hopefully, my thoughts about turning 50 will help you get to know me a little and I look forward to sharing more each month.

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During my birthday week celebration, I reflected on all the blessings I have in my life.  But that week, I also found myself reflecting on things I don’t normally think much about – my childhood.  For me, turning 50 means I not only made it through, I survived and thrived!  I was fortunate to have lots of neighborhood friends in our very lower-class neighborhood, but times were tough!  I grew up in a 900 square foot house with a family of four.  It’s taken a lot of hard work the last 30 years for me to get to a life I’m proud to crow about.

I have a wonderful husband that is my hero!  He cooks and cleans AND does the grocery shopping!  We have six kids minus one.  That’s a story for another blog.  Four of the kids served in the military and the youngest two are in college.  Five boys and the baby girl.  I am blessed!

I have a nice home in a nice neighborhood where kids are safe to play in the streets and adults can be seen chatting on curbs.  I’ve learned a lot from these chats and sincerely recommend that you get out and get to know your neighbors.  There’s always someone you can call when you need help with a project.  We literally call each other and say, “Hey, can I rent your husband for an hour”.  Yes, I know how steamy that sounds, but it’s really just about a toilet or some heavy lifting that needs to be done.  I promise it’s not that kind of neighborhood!  Although we LOVE “the hood” it is more than we need now so we recently showed it to a couple that would like to buy in our “hood”.  I told them I had to put a disclaimer on sales documents that our neighbors might show up unannounced to use the pool because they have a standing invitation.  We don’t have to be there.  They are all welcome!  Don’t worry, I’ve got good insurance.  I am blessed!

I drive a 10-year-old minivan because I haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that my youngest child is now 19 and in college.  It’s a really nice van and I see no need to upgrade.  I am blessed!

I have a wonderful job that has gotten me to within a month of retirement eligibility.  I am blessed!  Since this is my first time blogging here, I’ll let you know that I work at the University of South Carolina.  Primarily, I help faculty members develop research proposals, but I also help coordinate a very large regional conference each year and anything else that folks need me to do.

While I’m starting to feel parts of my body losing strength, I am pretty healthy.  I am blessed, but a little scared!  During my birthday week, someone at work literally said to me, “get ready for bladder leakage”.  Really?  Yesterday I was 49 and today I’m supposed to start peeing my pants?

So here I sit, at the age of 50, just waiting for my application to join AARP to arrive in the mail!  Feeling completely blessed and grateful to have made it this far!