Send Your Kids to College, Keep Your Money at Home
OUR FAMILY CHRISTMAS RELATIONSHIPS AND LITTLE TRADITIONS MAKE THE HOLIDAY
Our Christmas celebration is simple. We don’t pretend to do anything extravagant, really. But that doesn’t make it boring; in fact, we view our Christmas as just the opposite. When we feel that Christmas spirit, it’s due to family, friends, and gratitude — not so much the pomp and circumstance. That being said, we do have one unique tradition we love to observe. Every year, my family picks a small town in Texas, hops in the car, and drives there. There are so many great little towns in Texas, even within an hour’s drive from Houston. Most of them take great pride in their Christmas decorations. They line the streets with wreaths, and deck their city halls and town squares with yellow lights and Christmas trees. While there, we learn about the history of the town and explore their antique shops. You can find some of the most interesting gifts, because they’re custom-made by the locals. Last year, we explored Huntsville with its rich history and steamboat house. This year, we’re heading to La Grange, and we couldn’t be more excited. I enthusiastically recommend this practice. My kids are the age of most of my clients’ kids — one junior in high school and two in college. My oldest goes to school in New Jersey, so we’ll probably send him something Texan to remind him of home. Last year we sent him a book on turbine generation and robot dynamics because he’s into engineering. I don’t know many people who would tear through a book like that, but he did. Part of me kind of misses the days when my kids would be overjoyed with a Toys R Us gift. We’re lucky to have both sides of the family in the area to spend holidays with. Christmas Eve is spent with my wife’s family, where we watch the kids open presents. Anyone over 13 doesn’t get much, but we’re all content watching the little ones gleefully tear into their gifts.
At midnight, we attend a service at our Lutheran church. It’s lovely, and one of the highlights of my holiday observance. After a short message, the choir sings carols to us. I was in the choir for a long time, until I became too busy running the business. But I look forward to listening and singing along all the same. On Christmas morning, we head to my parents’ place, where things are a little more orderly. While my in-laws’ celebration becomes a paper- ripping mess, my family goes one-by-one, opening each present, giving the proper thank-you’s, taking pictures, then moving on to the next person. After the holidays, I usually take a week off of work for strategic planning. It’s one of the most critical weeks of the year for us. During this time, I make important decisions related to our marketing, services, and hiring. Even if you don’t own a business, it’s important to take a step back, look at the big picture of your life, and make this year’s strategic plan for success. Whether you’re planning for college, saving money, or simply strengthening your familial relationships, careful planning is sure to help. To our wonderful clients and my incredible staff who have made this a fantastic year for The College Money Guys — and from myself personally — Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a prosperous New Year!
“Even if you don’t own a business, it’s important to take a step back, look at the big picture of your life, and make this year’s strategic plan for success. “
–Bra nnon Lloyd
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IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: THE IMPORTANCE OF A GO BAG
MEDICATIONS When it comes to go bags, medications can be tricky, but they are necessary. Include a supply of any medications you take (anywhere from a week’s to a month’s supply) and be sure to rotate them out on a regular basis. This ensures that any prescription medications are up-to-date and that there is no risk of potential expirations. DOCUMENTATION Make a photocopy of any and all critical documents you have and store the copies
Now that we have experienced what many are calling the worst natural disaster in US history, we want to talk about preparedness. Here in Houston we don’t have to worry about earthquakes or wild fires but tornadoes and hurricanes are natural disasters we do have to worry about. Our homes are never entirely safe from potential hazards. While natural disasters aren’t an everyday worry — and the 2017 hurricane season is finally behind us — nothing is better than being prepared. You need a go bag! A go bag is something you can keep by the door in case of any kind of emergency. With essentials at the ready, you eliminate the possibility of a last-minute scramble. Here are the most critical items to include. BATTERIES AND FLASHLIGHTS Not only do you want a selection of standard batteries for your devices, but you also want portable lithium-ion batteries to charge your cellphones and other mobile devices. Additionally, after you’ve packed these items, be sure to check them every three months. You want to ensure they are functioning and at full capacity so you can rely on them if the time comes. FIRST-AID KIT You can find well-stocked first-aid kits online (including on Amazon. com) that are packed to the brim with most or all of the essentials. You may want to include baby wipes and a multi-tool in the kit as well. “We worked with The College Money Guys for the last 2½ years of our daughter’s high school career. What a difference they made! There are so many things about the college process that ‘you don’t know that you don’t know,’ and they are masters of knowing these things. Between applying for numerous schools, test advising, test prep, essays, applications, FAFSAs, scholarships, volunteerism, and everything else, there are so many things to know. Their invaluable insight and advice made all the difference. The monthly webinars are insightful and helpful. Working with Brannon and everyone at the TCMG was interesting and pleasant. The end result is that our college freshman daughter is incredibly happy, and we’re not paying a lot of money! We know that working with The College Money Guys made all the difference in the world. Thanks, Brannon. You guys are the best!”
in a watertight container (such as a freezer bag) in the go bag. Include your birth certificate, driver’s license, and Social Security card. You may also want to include a copy of any Medicare cards, insurance information, your will (along with any powers of attorney), and some proof of address. Some people even include marriage, adoption, and naturalization certificates. CASH Store enough small bills to get yourself through five to seven days. On top of the small bills, coins are just as important, particularly quarters.
OUR CLIENTS SAY IT BEST
“I can’t thank TCMG enough for all they’ve done for me. With their help, I was able to receive an amazing scholarship from my dream school, which also happens to be the school ranked as the nation’s ‘Worst at Giving Out Financial Aid.’ If you’re a high school student or parent of a high school student worried about college costs, this is the service for you.”
“Working with The College Money Guys made the college application process much smoother and less stressful. They were there every step of the way to make a school I never thought we could afford — Baylor — a reality. Thanks, Brannon! I’m halfway through my third year!”
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LET’S GET ORGANIZED! PLANNING IS KEY IN YOUR SEARCH FOR COLLEGE MONEY
College funding is a complicated process. Parents and their children have to take on mountains of paperwork, application deadlines, essays, forms, and more. In our experience, you’re either organized or you’re doomed to months of frustration.
Here are some thoughts to consider as your child is nearing college application time.
level of college funding you should expect to need. It also helps you and your child in side-by-side comparisons and decision-making.
Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. Students aren’t the only ones who get “summer fever.” Parents also have the tendency to relax, take half-days at work, play more golf and tennis, and put off important financial decisions. Don’t fall into this trap. You’ll regret it come September. Don’t get us wrong. Enjoy your summer! But you should set time aside to regularly look into your college money prospects. Better yet, start working on these things during the second half of your child’s junior year, January through May. Document your college research. Which colleges are they considering? What do they cost? What kind of scholarships do they offer? How interested is your child? The documentation process helps you learn what
Set up your income, assets, and personal finances. Do you have money saved in your child’s name? Is a lot of your money going into retirement? Do you know how much your home is worth, according to the financial aid formulas? If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, you need to find out. Accounting for your entire financial picture will help you as you apply for financial aid and scholarships. Remember — don’t procrastinate. You must take control of the process. Then you can use legal and ethical strategies to reduce the amount of money schools will expect you to pay.
VANILLA CANDY CANE PEPPERMINT BARS
HAVE A LAUGH
3/4 cup sugar (no sugar substitutes)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies 3 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Coat foil with cooking spray. 2. In a medium bowl, beat sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla with a mixer on medium for 2 minutes or until slightly thick and pale yellow. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt just until combined. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the peppermint candies. Spread batter in the prepared pan. 3. Bake 20–25 minutes or until edges are puffed and top is golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using foil, lift uncut bars out of the pan. Cut into bars. 4. Line a tray with parchment paper. Dip one corner of each bar into melted chocolate and place on the prepared tray. Sprinkle chocolate with the remaining peppermint candies. Let stand until set. (Recipe inspired by eatingwell.com.)
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2000 North Loop West Suite 200 Houston, TX 77018 713.422.2720
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Christmas With the Lloyds Why You Need a Go Bag Our Clients Say It Best Organize Your College Money Search Holidays, Houston-Style
BONUS MONEY-SAVING CONTENT INSIDE!
CHRISTMAS EVENTS TO LIGHT UP YOUR SEASON!
Christmas is a beautiful time to be in Houston. In a city this large, there are infinite places to take your family for some holiday fun. Here are a few of our favorites.
biggest and best markets. Plus, there are other delights for the kids, including a snow park, carolers, and, of course, a visit from the Big Man of the North. For Mom and Dad, check out the No Label Brewing Beer Garden or one of the many food trucks.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS IN OLD TOWN SPRING COST: FREE
This rustic part of town is a lovely place to take your family on a holiday stroll. The streets are decked out with lights and wreaths, and quaint restaurants and hot cocoa destinations abound. Visit on the weekend to see live entertainment and even Santa himself! MAYOR’S HOLIDAY CELEBRATION AND TREE LIGHTING ON DEC. 1 COST: FREE Of all the tree lightings in the area, this is the biggest. It has music, fireworks, and the main attraction: lighting a tree that’s over 40 feet tall! If you don’t make it to this event, check out the lighting in Sugartown, which is smaller but equally delightful. Bonus tip: Bring a toy to donate and receive a light-up Santa hat! OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL IN DOWNTOWN KATY COST: FREE Holiday markets are a great place to pick up unique gifts and support local businesses. During the first weekend of December, Katy has one of the
HERITAGE SOCIETY CANDLELIGHT TOUR COST: $10
Tour some of Houston’s most historic homes that are decorated for the holidays. Your kids are sure to enjoy Santa’s workshop and the musical entertainment. Be sure to stop by the Holiday Art Market while you’re there!
Thank you for your referrals!
Shelley Nadel John and Anne Walker Angela Eleuterius David and Kimberly Cambron
Jackie Barreda Sebastian Meyer Scott & Leesa Wolf Joyce Templeton
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