The College Money Guys - May 2019

MAY 2019

Award The

Letter

Send Your Kids to College, Keep Your Money at Home

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A LESSON IN LEARNING WHAT MY MOM TAUGHT ME

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I can’t help but reflect on how much my mother has shaped where I am today. From my role as assistant director of admissions at Rice University to my duties today as the branch manager of our Houston office, much of my career has been about passing on my love of learning. I owe it to my mother for fostering that love in the first place. development and family issues, starting a private therapist practice in 1986. So naturally, Freud and Young were household names for my siblings and me growing up. Our mother did her best to try to keep her work and home life separate, but I still picked up a fascination for the workings of the human mind. Rather than focusing her children on one area of knowledge, our mother wanted to give us the tools to be lifelong learners. She did this leading by example. From an early age, she read to my siblings and me before we went to bed. As we got older, she introduced us to other classic works, like “The Count of Monte Cristo.” She also made it clear to us that being good students wasn’t always the same as being good learners. To our mother, it was more important that we actually understood information rather than just cramming it in our heads for a test. Thanks to her efforts, all four of her kids remained lifelong learners. The fruits of her labor became clear when we moved out of Hallettsville for the big city. After graduating from Rice, my mother went on to earn her master’s degree in child

During my high school years, my dad’s work brought us to Dallas. This means I went from a school that had a graduating class of 34 to one that was 3,500. I wasn’t complaining; the larger class sizes also meant there were far more options and extracurriculars than I was used to in little Hallettsville. My first semester, I didn’t sign up for a single period of study hall, taking part in everything from theater to football. What may have been a nightmare schedule for someone else was a dream come true for me. This love of learning was one of the greatest gifts my mother gave me, and it’s been amazing to pass that same gift down to my kids. One of my sons is finishing up a Ph.D. in music, while the other has become a choir director. My youngest has focused her energy toward politics, using her sharp mind to shape the world. Meanwhile, I’ve been rediscovering some of my favorite books — I just finished listening to “The Count of Monte Cristo” through Audible.

Nowadays, my mother is still in Dallas, continuing her work providing counseling to those who need it. She loves gardening and remains one of the wisest people I’ve ever met. She has a particular observation about maturity that I’m rather fond of. To paraphrase her, “Up until age 25, you think you have an unlimited amount of life. Until age 35, you think you have an unlimited amount of money. At 50, you realize there isn’t an unlimited amount of forgiveness. And at 70, you realize life isn’t about what you do but whose lives you impact.”

Looking back on my life, it’s safe to say you’ve had an incredible impact on me, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day,

–K u rt Geodecke

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The Golden Era of Athletes on Social Media OUT OF THE DARK AND ONTO THE WEB

It’s not an overstatement to say that social media has revolutionized the way we live our lives today. But with that massively powerful platform comes a massive responsibility, especially if you’re already in the spotlight. Athletes have taken the opportunity social media affords them to build their personal brands and engage in community outreach with the fans who look to them as role models, but there’s a downside to cataloging years of unfiltered thoughts on the internet. For better or worse, social media is here to stay, and we have full access to all the drama that unfolds for our entertainment. Despite the web’s potential for good, some pros can’t seem to get the message that every post falls under the scrutiny of the public. PR firms

representing players have now made it a top priority to keep their clients’ images in line by scrubbing old posts that could be offensive and land them in hot water. Still, though, it seems like there’s a new controversy every week. One of the best examples comes courtesy of former football star “Johnny Football” Manziel. The former Heisman Trophy winner was notorious for posting embarrassing images of himself partying when he should have been practicing, and he often blasted his private issues in public, seemingly with no filter. He’s out of a job now, most recently having been banned from the Canadian Football League. For every bad apple, though, there is a bushel of athletes who use their platforms for the greater good. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt,

five-time Pro Bowler and NFL star, has used his social media “juice” to spread the word about his charity, raising over $4.6 million for youth athletic programs and organizations. Philanthropy aside, part of the beauty of celebrity social media is that the people who seem so much larger than life become accessible because of it. In decades past, you might have written a letter that, if you were fortunate, got a response from some unpaid intern. Today, fans can reach out directly to their favorite athletes. It is a personal connection unparalleled in history. What a time to be alive.

OUR CLIENTS SAY IT BEST

“Dear College Money Guys team,

The decline letters came in with disturbing regularity. Each school expressed their support for Lisa but regretted that they could not accept every qualified applicant. They wished her well in her college career and closed the door on her attendance. Fortunately, she is doing very well at U.T. in Austin, making new friends and having a good college experience. Of course, we are concerned by the amount of debt she will have upon graduation, but we are doing everything we can to keep it as low as possible. Having had this experience with Lisa, we are now working with you to have a better experience with Samantha, our second daughter. Samantha is working with Dr. Kimmins, and we are very interested in your assistance in obtaining financial aid. As you are fond of saying, “Hope is not a plan!” and we are through with just hoping we get money for college. We are encouraged by the planning we have already done and appreciate the opportunity to use your services this time around. We felt betrayed by the application process. Lisa did everything asked of her! It still was not good enough to get her any merit scholarships for college. Thank you, again, for all your time and advice. We appreciate what you do for us and all the other students you work with. I hope your clients will learn from our story.” –Shelly P.

I want to share our story with you so you can pass it along to your other clients. I hope others can benefit from what we have learned the hard way.

We originally came to visit your office in February of 2013. Our eldest daughter, Lisa, was a junior in high school and doing very well academically. Her grades put her well within the top 5 percent of her class, and we were delighted to see that she had a perfect score on both the writing and reading portions of the PSAT. With all of this going for her, we were encouraged by others to look at Ivy League schools. We earnestly believed that a dedicated student who had a proven track record of academic performance would be vigorously pursued by almost any college or university. After considering your offer to become a member, we decided we could do it on our own. Lisa applied to seven Ivy League schools, and we decided that the University of Texas would be her fallback school, which seemed reasonable to us. The acceptance from the University of Texas came in, and we were disappointed to see she that did not qualify for any scholarships. The decision by U.T. to opt out of the National Merit Scholarship program was not something we were aware of. We kept up our hopes by waiting to hear about the other applications.

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DON’T GET LOST IN THE FINANCIAL AID MAZE

HOW GOING IT ALONE CAN NET YOU LESS MONEY — AND WASTED TIME

Many students and parents think the financial aid process is no big deal. They’ll have to fill out a few forms and wait to hear back. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. It’s easy to assume that going through the financial aid process by yourself is cheaper and more efficient, but the reality is very different. Yes, you can do it alone as a student or parent, but here’s why you may want to rethink this strategy. First and foremost, colleges and the federal government love people who file for financial aid independently. This gives them more control over the process, and as a result, you can get steamrolled. They don’t want you to know all the nuances of financial aid, and they certainly don’t want you to have power in the process. It all comes down to the financial aid system itself, which is a complicated mess. It’s a bizarre mix of government bureaucracy and private, for-profit and nonprofit organizations. On top of that, there are miles of red tape, mazes of rules, countless deadlines, and massive laundry lists of regulations.

Here’s the bottom line: Unless you’re willing to devote countless hours for months on end (if not years) researching and understanding the financial aid process, you face a monumental challenge. The vast majority of people don’t have the resources or knowledge to get the maximum amount of money from any given school. When you go it alone, you will spend those countless hours trying to figure it all out, cutting through the red tape, and navigating the maze. Yes, it can be done, but at the end of it all, you will be asking if it was worth it. Plus, you’ll be left wondering if you could have gotten more money. Don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish. Ask for help. Whether you’re asking for yourself or a child who is getting ready to take the next step in the world of education, an expert can guide you through the process and is far more likely to get you the results you really want!

CLASSIC FRENCH OMELET Inspired by SeriousEats.com

HAVE A LAUGH

INGREDIENTS • 3 large eggs • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter INSTRUCTIONS 1. In medium bowl, beat eggs with plastic fork until last traces of white are just mixed in. Season with salt and pepper. 2. In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt butter, swirling over medium heat until foamy but not browned. Add eggs, stirring rapidly with fork, while moving skillet to agitate eggs. Break up all curds by scraping bottom of skillet as they form. Stop stirring when eggs are softly scrambled and creamy (but loose enough to come together into a single mass), 1–2 minutes. 3. Using fork, gently spread egg in an even layer around skillet and scrape down any wispy bits around the edges. The top surface should be loose and creamy, but if still liquid, swirl skillet to bring raw egg to the edge where it will set faster. 4. Remove from heat. Tilt skillet up by handle. Using fork, gently roll omelet down over itself until nearly folded in half. Using fork, push omelet to edge of skillet so that the lower edge of egg just begins to overhang. Use fork to fold overhanging edge of egg back over, closing omelet. 5. Turn omelet out onto plate. It should have the seam on bottom.

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2000 North Loop West Suite 200 Houston, TX 77018 713.422.2720

“HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY.” –VINCE LOMBARDI INSIDE

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A Lesson in Learning

The Golden Era of Athletes on Social Media

Testimonial

Don’t Get Lost in the Financial Aid Maze

Classic French Omelet

How to Travel Sustainably

BONUS MONEY-SAVING CONTENT INSIDE!

GO GREEN GET OUT THERE WITH THESE ECO-TOURISM TIPS

Vacations can come with great expense, and not just for your bank account. According to a 2018 study published in Nature Climate Change, travel accounts for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cut through the greenwashing and do your part to lessen these emissions by traveling sustainably. TRAVEL GREEN When possible, trains, hybrid buses, and carpooling are great alternatives to larger, more environmentally intrusive travel methods. Large cruise liners are detrimental to oceans, and airplanes emit large amounts of toxins into the air. However, you can cruise and fly with the earth in mind. Some cruise lines are working to reduce their impact by installing more eco- friendly lighting and materials, and flight experts recommend using “green” airports, choosing fuel-efficient airlines, staying longer, and traveling

less. If anything, it’s an excuse to extend your European vacation! STAY GREEN Where you stay impacts the environment as much as how you get there. Hotels use copious amounts of water for bathing and laundry, and they struggle to reduce energy because guests leave their lights and televisions on. However, many luxury resorts, woodsy cabins, and even entire countries have opted to make eco-tourism easier. If you’re looking for a region of the world committed to preserving nature, look no further than Iceland, Finland, and Sweden, which are ranked the three most environmentally friendly places in the world. DO GREEN Man-made attractions like the Egyptian pyramids and Machu Picchu are some of the

world’s greatest wonders, but Earth itself is pretty breathtaking. Check out natural attractions while hiking or camping in preserved forests, or soak up all the Caribbean has to offer by snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. When you’re mindful of your surroundings and remain unobtrusive, there are endless outdoor activities you can explore. Some locations even partner with environmentally conscious organizations you can donate to or volunteer with.

Opt for a green vacation and know that while you relax, the earth is getting a little relief too.

A REFERRAL IS THE HIGHEST HONOR A BUSINESS CAN RECEIVE FROM A CUSTOMER.. THANK YOU.

The Flynn Family, The Graham Family, The Hiremath Family

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