Should Every Student Pursue a Four Year College Education?

The availability of student loans has changed our financial and employment landscape. 

While attending college used to be something just a few did, “We now send 70 percent of high-school graduates to college, up from 40 percent in 1970,”according to Marty Nemko, a career counselor based in Oakland California (The Chronicle of Higher Education).

While 70 percent of high school graduates attend college, the number of students who graduate with a degree is smaller.  Even when a student does obtain an undergraduate degree, a job is not guaranteed.

“Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56% had held at least one job” (The New York Times) by the spring of 2011.

This naturally begs the question, should all high school graduates attend a college?  Should attending college be something we encourage our children to do?
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Understand Wedding Customs Before You Spend Your Money On Them

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The summer months represent the peak of wedding season in the United States.

Every year approximately 2 million Americans get married (CDC), and they spend an average of $27,800 on their wedding (The Knot).

While Americans routinely decide to create their own customs such as the recent craze of choreographing a dance for the wedding party at the reception, we also follow customs that have been handed down through generations.  However, a closer look at how these customs came to be may free you to not follow tradition and save yourself some money.

Many of today’s wedding customs are rooted in the fact that weddings used to be less about love and more about business.  Simply put, weddings were a business arrangement, and this can be seen through a variety of customs we still embrace.

Consider the following wedding customs:

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Think of Marriage as a Business Arrangement?

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Many people enter marriage blindly, underestimating how minor annoyances they experience while dating can grow exponentially during marriage. 

While couples may argue about a variety of issues ranging from in-laws to child rearing to household chores, research shows money fights can be the most toxic to a marriage.

Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University analyzed data collected from 2,800 couples and determined that those who fought about money weekly were “30% more likely to get divorced than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times a month.”  (The New York Times)

Many of us believe in the romantic ideal that love is enough to grow and sustain a loving marriage, but that is certainly not the case. 

While physical attraction is important, what is more important is your spouse’s ideals and convictions, and how closely they are in line with your own.  If you are a saver and you willingly enter marriage with a spender, be prepared for routine conflict, and perhaps divorce.

Jan Dahlin Geiger, a financial planner in Atlanta states, “‘Overspending is no different than being an alcoholic or drug addict’ in its effect on a relationship.  ‘What one person is doing could have a huge negative impact on the couple’s finances’” (USA Today).  Likewise, spenders may hide their purchases from you and incur debt you do not know about.

Of course, overspending is not the only financial problem couples might face. 
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Reflections on a Frugal Japanese Life

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It is no secret that Americans are not good at saving.  

In fact, before the economic downturn, Americans were only saving 1% of their income according to The Atlantic.

Compare that to the Japanese, who save 25% of their income, down from a high of 30 to 35% according to Maki, the Japanese woman behind the blog Just Hungry.

My husband was born in Japan and lived there the first 25 years of his life, so I asked him about his experience growing up.  He was at first hesitant to share because he is nearly 40, so he doesn’t feel his family is representative of the way things may now be in Japan.  Still, this is his family’s experience, which I find to be in stark contrast to many American households, even 30 years ago.

His Parents’ Backgrounds

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Should You Charge Your Boomerang Kids Rent?

Years ago, children graduated from high school, got a job and shortly thereafter got married, bought a home and had children.

This pattern may have been delayed a few years as more and more people obtained college educations, but the pattern remained basically the same.

Now, however, the number of adult children living with their parents has skyrocketed.  In fact, as recently as 2010, Calculated Risk shared that nearly 13.5% of individuals ages 24 to 35 lived at home with their parents.  This group has even been given their own name—Boomerang Children–because they leave the nest for some time but then return back home, sometimes for years.

If your adult child has moved back in, should you charge them rent?

Why Do Adult Children Move Back Home?

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Use Alternative Housing Arrangements and Save on Your Next Vacation

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The family vacation is pricey.

According to Free Money Finance, in 2007, the average American spent $1,654 on their summer vacation.

If the vacation is a week long, that is approximately $236 a day, of which I am guessing accommodations are a large portion of the expense.  If you are a family of four, you may be able to stay in cheaper hotel accommodations, but if you have three or more children, hotel stays get to be tricky (and expensive) because most hotels will only sleep 4 to a room and want you to buy two rooms or a suite, both expensive options.

If you would like to minimize your expense for accommodations on your next vacation, there are several hotel alternatives.

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The Financial and Physical Toll Caused by Lack of Sleep

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Did you get up today and stumble to the coffee maker to make your coffee because you needed the caffeine to wake up?

Do you have dark circles under your eyes and yawn throughout the day?

If so, you may be part of the growing ranks of Americans who are chronically sleep-deprived.

There are many reasons for sleep deprivation ranging from staying up too late to watch tv, trying to do too many tasks, having children (who are notorious sleep robbers), having an overloaded schedule including working full-time and caring for children and a home, to more serious causes such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Whatever the cause, chronic lack of sleep can have a high toll on your finances.

We are trained to reward those who push themselves, who stay at the office late, work hard, and short change themselves on sleep every night so they can get more done.

However, this societal norm should change because Americans’ lack of sleep has very expensive consequences.

Consider the following financial and physical tolls caused by lack of sleep:

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