(Insert the Loudest Sigh Right Now)

As I get better at this blogging thing, I have been trying to convey how one should live an EXTANT life. One of the ways of living EXTANTLY requires one to find a way to buy back one’s time.

Well, I’ve been thinking more about funding my children’s college education which is a tall order when trying to buy back time. How can I do both?

Where we are in Securing Our Retirement
Soooooooooo my husband and I have been working toward securing our retirement through the normal ways that were handed down to us… you know, the way the baby boomers told us Generation Xers. We have taken advantage of employer matching as we maxed our 401k. We have ensured we allocated our monies toward aggressive MUTUAL FUNDS.

Now I am exploring various ways of securing my retirement that do not follow conventional thinking. Many of you may be aware of the various bloggers out there that have shown different paths to financial freedom. Consider reading the Financial Samurai, the Millenial Revolution, and the RootofGood. Now I must warn you, these are not the average people who amassed wealth by being the city bus driver, HVAC guy, or school teacher. They started out as financial gurus, lawyers, etcetera. But hear me, the information they provide is still great information. Their methods prove they are living an EXTANT lifestyle that I can only admire at this point until I achieve the same. They leveraged their positions post college and with a little bit of luck to achieve great things (more power to them and pretty impressive if you ask me). It is definitely worth investigating…and I am the perfect interloper on their blogs and tweets.


Our views on funding college and college majors
Our first thoughts were to pass around a cup with “United Negro Fund Our Four Kids Fund”, but I’m pretty sure most people have a similar problem. So scratch that.

Okay…I started out using the conventional wisdom passed down from the baby boomers regarding setting up a 529 plan. Ummmmmm, let’s say we are sorely lacking in contributions. Four kids later, there is no way I can possibly fund four college educations, fund our retirement (which is more important), actually live a decent quality of life where we can take the occasional vacay, and on and on. Even if we took out all extras (which we have in reality), I know we cannot come up with $400-600K in college monies. If we have that extra cash flow, it should be invested…. in real estate, the stock market, … my blog (had to throw that in there).

I bear the responsibility for my miseducation of financing college. Conventional methods probably won’t work for us people with 4 kids. Colleges will claim we make too much money. Dayum.

So after looking at their MD 529 plans, I knew it was also a losing proposition. I’ve been killing myself looking to put a couple dollars into a “low level ponzi scheme” where I get a minimal tax break ANNNNNNNND knowing it would be used against my little angels when they have to seek financial aid. The monies in their accounts would somehow be a factor as to how much aid they would be eligible to receive.

This is where I wanted to enter a ton of cuss words. So at this point I am modestly funding those anorexic 529 plans. Not a winning proposition.

I’m already brain washing my children into understanding they will need to solve the riddle of world hunger and invent something in the very near future. They need to get a freaking scholarship … and consider state schools. Do not get me wrong, if the big name schools in and out of state want to subsidize my lovely angels education, I am totally all in. Unfortunately I have this sneaking suspicion other families have the same idea. So the University of Maryland, Towson University… they all have great appeal with their in-state tuition prices. Of course, we would definitely welcome the prestigious John Hopkins University if my brilliant angels are accepted ANNNNND they cough up some major dough.

img_0141My hubby and I have committed ourselves to providing the funding for their undergraduate degree… COMPLETED IN 4 YEARS. The only way we would fund anything longer than 4 years is if it was something like a combined program where you get a Masters out of it or something like that… and even that is a little suspect. We just have to figure out how to multiply our sad savings investments…like manna from the heavens.

We are also under the “illusion” all of our children will choose something STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) related, thereby finding employment where they can be fully self supporting. Of course the odds are one or more of our children will throw a curve ball. We have no idea what our response will be when someone tells us they want to be an artist, chef, or journalist. See, if we find someone wants to be an artist, we plan on telling him/her to use that as a minor but major in computer science. Or at least minimally major in computer science or something related. That way they can use their art talents to design book covers, gaming characters, technical illustrations, etcetera. (Don’t judge me). This little bit of security would at least allow for them so secure a job while working towards entrepreneurship.

Ultimately, it is their life and happiness…. but my $$$. We know we can’t force our desires on them, but at least we can nudge them every now and then. Just get an education.

Main point here, our four children must understand we don’t plan nor have the ability to support their casual approach to post college.


How I funded my education
I was a good student and participated in many activities during my high school years. This helped me paint the picture of a well rounded student. Fortunately, others had more foresight than I did and ensured I stayed enrolled in the Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps (JROTC). This enabled me to gain a four year ROTC scholarship in addition to some other smaller scholarships. The requirement of course was to serve time as a United States Air Force (USAF) officer.

During my time in college, I was required to not only maintain my engineering course load, but also my ROTC requirements. Additionally, I ran winter and spring track as my means for hustling extra money in lieu of having a part time job.

My ROTC scholarship afforded me the opportunity to attend a top engineering school, travel the world, and learn about various career fields while obtaining a top notch education.

Unfortunately the military is not an option I want to promote to my children. Many of our leaders have no idea what it is like to serve on behalf of our country, and yet have no qualms with sending our young people in harms way. Somehow, I cannot seem to reconcile sending my children to potential hostile territories. The world appears to be much more delicate in its stability. We have enough drama here.

Although my time in the USAF was overall a positive experience, I capped my time at a little over 5 years. I was HONORABLY discharged and entered the world of contracting for the government.


College funding options
Sooooooooo, although ROTC is an option. I really do not want to promote my children pursuing a military career. Of course there were benefits I enjoyed. I received a great education, learned about SERVICE, traveled the world, learned about leadership, exposed to international collaboration… There were truly some great benefits. Most of my 5 years were spent abroad.

The ROTC option is super awesome too for those who want to become a doctor or lawyer. This helps offset the cost of your high med school bills, sets you up for having a large pool of personnel whom you can gain medical experience. Even the pay scale for those career fields are a little higher in the military once you graduate from college.

…but the state of world affairs gives me reason to pause. I have reservations with people in power from both of the major political parties using the military as a bullying weapon to deploy at their pleasure, sending our young men and women in harms way. I remember looking at some media literature from my time in Turkey and it put me in a bad place. I remember the way I felt post 9/11 and the role of the military moving forward. I remember always operating under the threat of being forward deployed. I remember struggling with trying to maintain comraderie and my individuality at the same time. Had I remained in the military, I would have been a Lieutenant Colonel by now.

Another college funding option is to make use of community colleges. We can afford the yearly tuition of a community college, especially if any of my children decide “I don’t know what I want to do”. This option will save us a boat load of money.

Then there are investments. As I mentioned above, we have insufficiently funded 529 plans. Well now I am in the process of rebalancing how I save money. I recognize putting money in retirement plans is not always the way to go. The problem with that philosophy is you cannot access the funds when you need it. So we will try to bootstrap as much as we can. In the mean time, I will continue being the interloper on these other financial blogging sites until I come up with a strategy I can actally employ.

There are student loans. Trying to avoid these as much as possible. The more debt my children are saddled with, the more difficult it will be for them to be self supporting and to get ahead. We are looking to mitigate this as much as possible.

I was reading on another site one of the things to consider is when the children attend college, they should consider being a Resident Advisor (RA). This helps with offsetting some of your room and board costs. Trust me, that is music to my ears. I like the notion of being forced to stay in and patrol the dorm, also giving yourself plenty of time to study. Keeps you out of trouble.


Other education options
Most of us think of brick and mortar schools when we think of college education. With the influx of all these online schools gaining momentum, who is to say conventional education will be the preference in the future? Will employers value education received from Capella, Kaplan, Strayer, etc? If so, then perhaps financing college education will be more in reach?

Stay tuned… this is just starting to get good…

Originally posted 2016-12-03 04:54:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter