The Perils of Private Student Loans

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The cost of college is growing faster than inflation, and now many students find it difficult to go to college without some type of loan financing. 

To illustrate this, Heather Boushey, economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research explains, “In 1981, a student could work full time all summer at minimum wage and earn about two-thirds of annual college costs.  Today, a student earning minimum wage would have to work full time for a year to afford one year of education at a four-year public university–and that assumes she saves every penny” (USA Today).

According to FinAid.org, “Two-thirds (65.6%) of 4-year undergraduate students graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and some debt in 2007-08.”

While the vast majority of those student loans are federal student loans, a small portion of them are private student loans.

Getting in student loan debt too deeply is a risk for all students, but private loans in particular come with inherent risks.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

The Benefits of Private Student Loans

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Why Do Women Make Less Money Than Men? Are We Training Them to Earn Less?

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That women generally earn less than men is a well known fact. 

Many people attribute the income difference to the fact that women are more likely to leave the job field to become caretakers, either for their children or their parents.  In fact, Time reported that “over a period of 15 years, according to a 2004 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), a full 52% of women in their prime earning age range of 26 to 59 go through at least one full calendar year earning nothing at all, compared with just 16% of men.”

Of course, that absence in the work place can account for some difference in pay, especially when women stay out of the workforce for several years while their children are young.

However, women leaving the work field to care for others is only part of the story.

When Does the Wage Gap Between Men and Women Begin?

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5 Strategies for Keeping the Peace When Parents Move Back in with Their Adult Children

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As much as parents love their children, some parents prefer that their grown children fly the coop and don’t come back to live. 

Having adult children move back in with you can be challenging and often requires that you establish firm boundaries and ground rules so both generations can live in peace under the same roof.

While much has been written about the boomerang generation, not much has been said about the reverse trend–parents moving in with their adult children thanks to an inadequate retirement or health problems.

If you foresee that there may be a day when your parents could potentially move in with you, it is important to begin preparing now, years before it may actually happen.

Here are some strategies to help keep the peace when parents move back:

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Alternatives to Attending PayScale’s Top Universities and Still Earning a Commanding Salary

Getting ready to choose a college? 

Depending on your children and their interests, they may be looking at a report to determine the top party schools or the schools that rank highest for their chosen field.

Or, they may just care about the bottom line.

In that case, the annual PayScale report probably attracts their interest.

PayScale offers an annual college salary report that shows which colleges produce graduates that make the highest annual income.  The report breaks this down by starting salary and mid-career salary.  They also report how satisfied respondents are with their jobs.  All the data is collected by those who self-report.

This year, schools in the top 10 are composed primarily of Ivy League schools, private schools, and schools that specialize in a field such as engineering.  They are in order of ranking: Continue Reading

Should Students Get Paid for Good Grades?

Theoretically, students should go to school and learn simply for the sheer love of learning and the knowledge that studying hard will eventually land them a good paying job (though that assumption is getting harder and harder to prove in these current economic times). 

But is learning for the love of learning and a promise of a brighter future enough?

Or, should we pay our students to learn?

Isn’t Paying Them Just a Form of Bribery?

Some may argue that paying students to get good grades, whether they are elementary, middle school, high school or even college students, is akin to bribery.  These people worry that students will always expect a reward for every good action and test and that they won’t be intrinsically motivated to study just for the sake of learning.

While there is some truth to this concern, the simple fact is that not everyone is a good student.
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Less Is More: Make 2013 The Year You Buy Things Differently

While Americans often complain about our jobs getting shipped overseas, the simple fact is that the global marketplace lets us receive goods for an incredibly low price. 

We are paying less than our parents and grandparents did for goods, yet we have more debt and less money.

What happened?

I recently watched the movie King Corn, a documentary in part about the way our crops are grown and our animals are fed.

Regardless of how you feel about genetically modified crops and conventionally grown beef, the documentary was informative about the agricultural policy change in the 1970s.  While the United States used to carefully rotate crops and limit the crops that came to market, all of that changed when Earl Butz became the Secretary of Agriculture in 1971.  He urged all farmers to plant as much corn as they could, and as a result of his policy changes, food prices dropped radically.  Butz said in the movie, “The basis of our affluence is that we spend less on food now. . .We feed ourselves with approximately 16 to 17% of our take home pay.”
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3 Ways to Have a Less Commercialized Holiday Season

Are you feeling like scrooge yet? 

I love the holiday season and all of the festivities, but the commercial aspect of it diminishes my joy.

Having to go out and fight the crowds to buy presents is an activity I enjoy about as much as going to the dentist for a root canal.  The longer I wait to shop, the meaner and angrier people at the mall seem to be.

What’s even worse is that studies show that many recipients don’t even appreciate or value our gifts.

“Despite the fact that people spend a significant amount of time and money on gift-giving, their purchases often are less appreciated than they might hope,” say business school professors Francis Flynn of Stanford University and Francesca Gino of Harvard University in a study published in 2011 (WSJ).

Based on my own personal experience, I can attest that this is true.

Last year my mom was most happy to give me a Mint, which is a vacuum/mop that runs on its own presumably to clean the floors while you are doing other things.  My mom is a clean freak, while we, well, we are not.  She thought this would be the perfect gift.

The problem?
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