Posted On: 2005-11-30
Listen to this podcast
Good Wednesday, it is November 30, 2005 this is episode 127 of the Financial Aid Podcast and my name is Chris Penn. We have a lot to talk about today; we're going to cover some stuff about the Ipod Nano contest, some financial aid news along with all sorts of things from all over the podosphere. A scholarship update, 60 different scholarships today, I'm not going to go over all 60 of course; we're going to cover how to get to them. And some information on personal finance and of course Podsafe music from Natalie Brown, Todd Lerner, and Matthew Eble.
So let's get started, before we get to the news, I want to talk about tomorrows Ipod Nano drawing as I'm sure you know if you are a regular listener to the show or you're a regular reader to the financial aid newsletter, we are giving away an Ipod Nano and the Lanier Headphones that go with it. One time $300 student loan payment, basically the prize is worth $300 either way you slice it. The drawing is going to be done tomorrow; it will be a random drawing based on the number of people who have applied since October 25, 2005 for Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Student Loan Consolidation or Alternative Student Loans from the Student Loan Network, or who have entered in the free drawing page at www.financialaidpodcast.com. The Ipod Nano plus Lanier Headphones, or a $300 student loan payment. But I didn't talk about the second, third and fourth prizes which is, you know they are nearly as good in the sense of monetary value but they're still good and hey there's still something to have for the holidays. Second prize $30 iTunes Music Store gift card plus the new Todd Lerner CD, which he was gracious to send along to us. It's called "If right Now, Playing Guitar," so that will be the second prize $30 plus the CD. The third prize will be a $15 iTunes Music Store gift card plus the Todd Lerner CD and the fourth prize will be a $15 iTunes Music Store gift card and nothing else. So if you haven't put your entry in, definitely do it, we are going to do the drawing tomorrow on the show, on the Financial Aid Podcast, right here so you will not find out any other way except right here. The drawing primarily will be, actually I should have a name and address because you have gone through a loan product or through the referral form on the website.
Let's get to some actual news now. We are putting the finishing touches on the December Financial Aid newsletter, so if you are not subscribed do it. Get subscribed because it will probably be pretty good. I say pretty good, is that one thing is that the Financial Aid Podcast, doing the research, and putting together the show everyday is really opened my eyes to just how much Financial Aid is out there. It would impossible to cram all the stuff that we talk about everyday into a newsletter. If I did that then the newsletter would be 70 pages long. The show notes for each show really are about two pages to each, just bullet points. It could really alternate a book about financial aid. Keep your email boxes ready for that newsletter, it should be coming out in the next couple of days; just wanted to a couple more proofs and try and figure out , I want to try and get a little bit more useful information in there, it's really worth your time to read it. It's not just a re-hash of things that we've already done. Firefox the web browser is up to version 1.5, it was released yesterday, if you use Firefox it would be a good time to upgrade, apparently there is a whole bunch of new improvements. As of course as always with upgrade software you do so at your own risk; anything could go wrong from the software not installing right to your computer burning, exploding and burning and smoking and all that wonderful stuff. You can get that at www.mozilla.org. Illegal aliens receiving financial aid, there is some controversy now especially in Southern States about illegal undocumented aliens receiving Federal Financial Aid Funds. Well it turns out the hub-ub is much a do about nothing, because no illegal alien can receive any form of financial aid or even state financial aid because it requires you to file your FAFSA. If you do not have credentials, citizens of credentials for the FAFSA you can not get the aid, so for people who are concerned of those illegal aliens maybe taking money away from legal immigrants and from domestic residents, not to worry the Federal Government bureaucratic maze has kept you safe. Financial home stretches for legislation, the House and the Senate have both passed their respective bills about financial aid legislation the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, and Budget of Reconciliation Act. What happens now is that both houses have to basically meet in committee to try and hash out a unified bill that incorporates changes and suggestions and ideas fro both. This is the very last stand for students, families and colleges to petition their legislators that cuts to financial aid; like we talked about yesterday even flat funding is a cut when inflation is at 4.8%. This is the last chance to petition your legislators to try and recoup additional savings in the budget from other things, especially from the projects that aren't necessarily going to deliver immediate impact on the United States.
For example the Bridge to Nowhere which we've talked about in previous podcast, Higher Education however, Higher Education funding in specific, definitely has a pay off for the United States. It's for the country as a whole, for the students who are going through the system and for employers who will be hiring those students presumably when they get out of college. If fewer students graduate from college or if fewer students are able to get into college, it's generally not a good idea for society. It's not a good thing for society. You can petition legislators by going to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. Place your zip code in the little wizard there and it will tell you who your representatives are and how you can get in touch with them. Finally, if you want to repay your loans work for the government. The Office of Policy Personnel and Management release an interesting little factor yesterday. In 2002, 18 Federal agencies participated in a loan repayment program of some kind for student loans and doled out about $4 million. Last year, in the fiscal year 2004, the Federal Government, quadrupled the amount of money it was allocating towards repaying student loans for people who come to work for the government. Now 20 agencies used $16.4 million in, well tax refunds I guess really, because that's where the government funding comes from to repay student loans for graduates who have come to work for the government. Consider the Federal Government if you got a lot of loans and you want to be looking at not living with them for an extended amount of time. If you are comfortable by the way with repaying your loans without the Government assistance, feel perfectly free to consolidate them with the www.studentloanconsolidator.com that way you can cut your monthly payment and use that cash for more valuable things and more important things. All right let's go to our first piece of Podsafe music today, Natalie Brown, "In Your Arms Again," Podsafe Music Network.
"In Your Arms Again," by Natalie Brown from the Podsafe Music Network, you can get more information about her in our show notes at www.financialaidpodcast.com. You can also visit Natalie's website at www.natalie-brown.com for her CD and a bunch of other things. We'll be hearing more from her in a couple of days. Let's do a scholarship update. 60 different scholarships from Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Ronald McDonald House Charities organization is now beginning its annual scholarship program. They are putting out 60 different scholarships for really all kinds of different stuff. There is a General Scholarship, let me take a look here at the exact notes that I have. Okay we have 20 scholarships for the African American Future Achievers, 20 scholarships for the Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources, and the General Ronald McDonald Scholarships high school seniors of all backgrounds. To be eligible, students must be high school students, they must be eligible to attend a two year or four year college or university with a full course of study. They must reside in a participating local chapter's geographic area, and must submit an complete application and all required documentation by January 17, 2006, that is the deadline. You can apply online; you can also print out your application and mail it to them as well. There are a number of chapters all over the place of the Ronald McDonald Charities in which you will be able to apply for the scholarship through each of the local charities which is the chapters. You have places like Corpus Christi, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Boston, Augusta, instead of reading the whole list I will put a link in the show notes of course to the detailed page and form there you can go on to the actual application and try to win one. It's a really nice set of charities, really nice awards to date the Ronald McDonald House has awarded more than $19 million to help high school seniors get into college and afford college, so that's since 1985. That's quite a nice accomplishment, it's like a $1 million a year or so, and that of course is today's scholarship update. The Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarship, remember January 17 deadline, so you have to be fully applied by January 17, 2006 and of course the notes are at www.studentscholarshipsearch.com and also in todays show notes. All right as we heard at the beginning of the podcast, we are going to hear from him a little bit more right now, Todd Lerner, "Song for Free."
"Song for Free," by Todd Lerner from the Podsafe Music Network, you can also get more information about Todd from his website www.toddlerner.com. Todd was gracious enough to send a few of his new CD which is called "If Right Now, Playing Guitar," so we will be giving away those like I mentioned earlier as part of the iTunes and IpodNano give away tomorrow. It's do a little bit on personal finance. I was going to do an Eye on Economy section but the news is gloomy and well that's not necessarily a good thing to start your Wednesday off with. It is hump day so we want to try and make it a little bit cheery. Let's talk about saving money. Specifically how to save money and why it's important. Savings is the first step towards helping your money make money. If you don't really read a lot of financial books, there are a lot of books out there, some are good and some are not so good. Some have some good stuff in it and then some really terrible stuff in it. The one that I read over the summer was called "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kyosaki. But basic financial concepts of the book were actually very good; the investment advice that followed after the basic concepts was not so good. At least not from my perspective and not would I would deem useful for the average person but some of the basic concepts are good. The idea that money makes money is a fundamental one, it's the foundation of investing, and you put money in to get money more money out. Savings is the first step towards that, before you can start investing you have to have something to invest with and that's why savings exists. When you are looking at savings like in savings accounts and things like that, you are looking at low interest rates because essentially you're looking for a no risk savings. You don't want to ever have to guess that the amount of money you put in is gone, that would be the principle. Whether it makes any interest or not, even if it's negligible, as long as that the principle amount doesn't ever go away. Which is possible in the stock market and in any kind of non-secured investment, you want to be careful about that kind of thing. There are a lot of good ways to do that too. You could set up a number of accounts at your local bank, you can set up with online internet banks, people I've talked to use ING Direct and seemed to be very pleased with their service. As long as you have an avenue for savings that is insured. By the way, keeping money at home is not insured. If something happens to your house or if you have family, or your kids take it or your dog eats it or whatever, not insured you will not be able to recoup that. Savings also provides a bailout in tough times. We talked yesterday on how the economy in general is not looking so hot, even Jay Fleischman was nice enough to contribute some comments on our show notes and things about what 2006 has in store for consumers and it's a little bit worrisome. The savings having some money on hand even if it's not earning great interest is still a good idea, it's still a good idea to have it handy so that if things get rough you don't have to resort to piling on debt. That's why it's important.
Now let's look at a few different ideas to how to save. Because how to save is just as important. The first thing is things like spare change. Spare change is one of the ways to save everyday if you use a lot of cash, if you don't use a lot of cash then obviously you will have to resort to different methods. If you do use a lot of cash, put an spare change jar in your house and then once or so take it out to your bank or credit union. I know my credit union here in Massachusetts actually has a coin counter machine that if you are member of the credit union you can use it for free, meaning that they don't access any fees to the money they collect. It's very nice and handy. It's a great way to put a little money aside everyday. The other option of course is if you have internet home banking, things like that, set up an savings account with your bank and then deduct from your checking account; literally just a $1 a day. It doesn't have to be a huge chunk of money. Savings is about doing it regularly not necessarily by doing a whole lot of it, if you can, obviously great do so. Even if it's just a $1 a day, that's something. Set goals for yourself, set goals as to how much money you want to save and really work at meeting those goals, and even building incentive system into trying to motivate yourself for example, let's say your goal is to save $30 a month, basically $1 a day, at the end of the month, go out and grab that extra coffee or whatever the latte, mocha frappe whatever at the local coffee shop, that's a treat for you. Obviously don't spend more than you save or you will reduce the whole point of saving with. Build in incentives really if you can save $1 a day you are talking $365 a year. It doesn't sound like a lot but hey, if you are caught in a pinch that will provide basic necessities for a little while. Establish accounts. Set up accounts that are specifically for savings goals. There is a whole bunch of ways to do that and I could talk the different avenues, different institutions have different ways of saving. There are people that talk about things like really elaborate investment vehicles but if you are just getting started, you don't need any of that. Just set up a savings account; set up more than one if you want to set the save for different goals. If you are looking to save for that vacation in a couple of years, set up a sub account on your main account and save to that. One other thing that is an idea is to try and save automatically with paycheck withdrawal or any kind of automatic deduction that takes the money out before you see it so that you get used to not having it.
Another suggestion I saw from www.finay.org is if your monthly payments on something change, if you refinance your mortgage or whatever and you suddenly got a mortgage payment if it was lower than it was previously, take the money that you were paying, because you are not going to miss it anyway and put that into saving as well. Finally one thing that I think is very helpful, it certainly helps me and is one of the reasons I like the online banking like ING is, ING Direct it makes it very difficult to get at your money. It takes a few days for it to transfer to a regular bank account and they don't have a debit card kind of thing. Regardless of what avenue you pick, by the way ING is not paying us any money for this which is kind of irritating but that's all right; make your savings account easy to put money into and inconvenient to get money out of, not impossible because if you need the money, you need the money. Make it inconvenient to get at that money. If it's readily accessible, two clicks of a mouse away and you've got it to spend you will be more likely to spend it. If you have to fill out some paperwork, or you have to go through a transfer process and then wait a few days, you will be less likely to take the money out and more likely to save it. Try and make your saving convenient for money going in, inconvenient for money going out. Those are a few basic tips for you to get you saving. Like I said on yesterday's show it's really important. I think 2006 is going to be an interesting year for finance. Hopefully for the majority of the listeners on this show, you will get by okay and things won't turn to places that require obscene words to describe; but you can help provide additional insurance for yourself by avoiding debt whenever possible especially consumer debt like credit cards. Credit cards are tied to the prime rate so as the prime rate goes up your credit card payments are going to go up, try to lay off the plastic as much as possible and more than anything else, use cash, save your money if you can and just try and get through the interesting times ahead. Enough of the personal finance stuff move on to our last selection, "All I want is You," from Matthew Eble.
"All I want is You," by Matthew Eble from the Podsafe Music Network. You can check out Matthew's website at www.mattheweble.com and there will be a link in the show notes as always. That is going to do it for today's show. It is rainy, it's dreary, and blah, oh well hopefully the day will get better. I've got a hot cup of coffee so we can get the office up and running here. Tomorrow is the Ipod Nano give away so be sure you are tuned in, be sure you are subscribed. I really need another cup of coffee. If you are not subscribed get subscribed, very easy just go to www.financialaidpodcast.com and follow the directions there or optionally just install the latest copy of iTunes and then go to the website, click on the gigantic iTunes button. If you have a moment, check out Jay Fleischman's podcast. I really like it; it's a very good consumer finance and personal debt management podcast. He's a bankruptcy attorney in New York City and he's been on our show once before and really puts together a very nice series, very insightful. Check it out, it's at www.debtpodcast.blogspot.com and of course I will put a link in our show notes as well. All right folk, until tomorrow I hope that you dry and warm and enjoy, grab some coffee, I know I will be. If you have feedback, feedback is to be sent to email@example.com let me know what you thought of the show if there are any suggestions of things that you would like to have answered on the air, questions and things like that I would be more than happy to-as of yesterday Adam Curry will finish out the show today so, until tomorrow take care. Adam Curry: Christopher Penn I love you, that is so fantastic.