The College Money Guys - December 2018

December 2018

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A LESSON IN GIVING MY EVOLVING UNDERSTANDING OF CHRISTMAS

My personal relationship with Christmas has gone through three stages now. First, as a boy, the holiday largely revolved around the question of what Santa was going to bring me. I still remember being over the moon the year I unwrapped a beautiful cap rifle, complete with intricate scrollwork. That thing probably cost my parents $20, which was a pretty penny by 1970s standards. The second stage came when I had children of my own, and it was my turn to step into Santa Claus’ boots. My younger self wouldn’t have believed it, but it was even more joyful and exciting to be the one giving gifts rather than receiving them. Now that my kids are older, part of me misses taking part in the magic and mystery of getting those presents wrapped and under the tree every Christmas Eve. But it’s the third and final stage of my journey that I find most rewarding. These days, while I still give gifts to my family, I find it equally important to give back to the community. So this time every year, you can find my brother and me ladling out soup at the George R. Brown convention center. While he and I look forward to this every year, we know there’s only so much good two extra hands in a soup kitchen can do. That’s why our family also donates to Heifer International, spreading what love and comfort we can on a global scale.

Heifer’s home base in Arkansas contains what they call their Global Village. This site features model homes representing the places in the world they aid, from a Southeast Asian stilt house to an Appalachian cabin. The structures aren’t just for sightseeing, however. These homes have livestock and crops just as an actual subsistence farming household would. Visitors can opt to stay in these dwellings for several nights, getting a feel for what it’s like to truly live in third- world conditions. Our church first introduced my family and me to this truly one-of-a- kind experience. After I heard about it, I volunteered as a chaperone for the trip and have done so for many years since. All of my kids have had the Heifer experience. Let me tell you, you’ve never bonded with your family until you’ve tried to milk a goat together. As someone who has been stationed in the Soviet Union and who is a big believer in experiential learning in general, I cannot overstate the importance of this program. It’s one thing to conceptualize the fact that folks in other parts of the world in other circumstances have it worse than us; it’s another thing entirely to step into their shoes, even for a few days. When I was young, I only thought about what gifts I would receive this time of year. Having kids of my own made me appreciate just how powerful giving to your own family can be. But experiences like this one through Heifer International made me realize the importance of giving to folks you will never meet in places you’ll never be. In the day-to-day bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of just how incredibly fortunate we really are. What better time than the holiday season to pause and reflect on how we can do our part for those in need at home and abroad.

“Let me tell you, you’ve never bonded with your family until you’ve tried to milk a goat together.”

For those who don’t know, Heifer International is a nonprofit that works to eliminate hunger here in the U.S. and around the world. Unlike other organizations, Heifer was founded on the idea of providing people with holistic, self-sustaining aid, such as livestock. It began as an effort to provide young cows to agricultural families in need. In fact, Heifer also helps those from more privileged backgrounds understand the plight of those in less fortunate circumstances.

From all of us here at The College Money Guys, happy holidays!

–Bra nnon Lloyd

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How to Make Your Dog Think You’re a Magician ‘WHAT THE FLUFF?’

Dog owners across the world are confounding their sweet pups with the latest internet craze, aptly known as the “What the Fluff?” challenge. For this puppy prank, the rules are quite simple. The owner stands in front of their dog and lifts up a blanket in front of them. As their pet looks on, the owner runs away and lets the blanket fall to the ground. From the unsuspecting

fun and games for humans, but a lot of dog lovers can’t help but wonder what is going on in the minds of their pets. Zazie Todd, a professional dog trainer who holds a Ph.D. in psychology, explains that the “What the Fluff?” challenge demonstrates that dogs exhibit object permanence: the understanding that objects exist even when

experiment reminiscent of “What the Fluff?” They showed a dog a bone, hid it behind a screen, and swapped it with a bone of a different color. When they revealed the new bone, the dogs spent more time inspecting the swapped-out bone than they did when the scientists revealed the same bone as before. Because the dogs were perplexed by the incongruity, the team concluded that dogs exhibit object permanence. So how does a dog feel when their owner disappears suddenly? It’s hard to say. Most animal cognition scientists are hesitant to hypothesize about something so subjective as emotions, but after watching the pups’ reactions on Instagram and YouTube, most experts deem the prank harmless. “What the Fluff?” is akin to playing peekaboo with a baby. Does it cause some confusion? Definitely. Is it destructive? Not likely.

pup’s point of view, it seems as if their beloved owner has disappeared into thin air! Some of the dogs stare ahead befuddled, some spin in circles, and others run around the

you can’t see them. Scientists have long known that dogs, unlike newborn

babies, understand object permanence. In 2013, a team of animal cognition scientists at the University

room trying to find where their owner is hiding. It’s all

of Kentucky conducted an

OUR CLIENTS SAY IT BEST

“These guys are practical, resourceful, and have a solid pulse on how college admissions and college life is today. You leave feeling in control of your kids’ college financing and about your personal finances as a whole. Very innovative ideas are offered about how to make your situation better and your goals realized. They’re an excellent resource to have. I highly recommend them, and Kurt in particular.” – Zeandra M.

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BUILDING YOUR COLLEGE LIST THESE TWO FACTORS COULD SAVE YOU MONEY

Whether you’re planning out a college tour with your high school junior or encouraging your sophomore to research universities, there are many factors to consider. Academics, reputation, location, sports, cost of tuition — these are all important elements in helping you and your student decide where to focus their attention when application season rolls around. However, there are two other factors that frequently don’t make this list, even though they can make or break a decision on where to go to for a higher education.

GPA will often be a critical factor in which aid package they receive. If a student is within the top 10 percent of a school’s freshman GPA, you can bet they’re going to do all they can to sweeten the pot. Conversely, reach schools are happy to charge more and give out less aid to maintain their elite status. Remember that transferring to a higher-ranking school after the first 2–3 years of college is a valid way of saving money and getting a great education! Some parents assume that all schools are created equal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While most schools will have access to some form of federal assistance for aid packages, that aid is the bare minimum. Many private institutions also have access to vast pools of alumni donations and scholarship funds that they use to supplement the government aid students qualify for. Schools that have a higher sticker price than state universities often give more aid to students. Thus, these colleges can frequently end up costing you less than their public counterparts. Ability to Give Out Aid

Average GPA of Freshmen

While it’s tempting to select “reach” schools with rigorous academic thresholds for acceptance, it’s also important to consider universities with a slightly lower bar for entry. Often, if your student has an above-average GPA, their applications will shine above their peers. This makes them more likely to be accepted and receive a better aid package.

While need will always be the primary factor in determining financial aid, if a school has to choose between students of similar means,

BUTTERY ROASTED CHESTNUTS

HAVE A LAUGH

Inspired by Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS • 2 pounds fresh chestnuts, unpeeled • 2–3 sprigs rosemary • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste INSTRUCTIONS 1. Heat oven to 450 F. 2. Place a large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. 3. On a large, flat workspace, place chestnuts flat side down. Using a sharp • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

knife, carve an X on the rounded side of each chestnut. 4. In a large bowl of hot water, soak chestnuts for 1 minute.

5. Pat dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Add rosemary, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toss to coat and transfer to baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer. Gather the edges of the foil together, leaving an opening at the top.

6. Roast until peels curl up, about 30–45 minutes. 7. Transfer to a platter and serve while hot or warm.

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PRST STD US POSTAGE PAID BOISE, ID PERMIT 411

2000 North Loop West Suite 200 Houston, TX 77018 713.422.2720

INSIDE

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A Holiday Lesson in Giving

The ‘What the Fluff?’ Challenge

Testimonial

Two College Stats That Can Affect Aid

Buttery Roasted Chestnuts

Everything You’ll Need for an Ugly Sweater Christmas!

BONUS MONEY-SAVING CONTENT INSIDE!

UGLY SWEATER PARTIES A FUN TREND YOU CAN EASILY FOLLOW!

It’s speculated that the first ugly sweater party took place in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2001. Since then, the trend has become one of the most popular holiday party themes. Come Thanksgiving, you’ll start to see racks in all types of clothing stores lined with hideous sweaters. If you’re ready to jump on the ugly-sweater-party bandwagon this Christmas season, here are a few things to keep in mind. Your Very Own Ugly Sweater Ugly sweaters come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can head to H&M or a local thrift store to pick one up. However, if you have a sweater that’s been cozied up for years in the back of your closet or a drawer, now’s your chance to give it new life. Arm yourself with a hot glue gun, thread, and needle, and patch Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty on it. And let it be known that an ugly sweater isn’t complete without sparkles, beads, and sequins galore. What Exactly Is an Ugly Sweater Party? It’s rather simple — slip on your favorite Christmas sweater, gather all your friends and family members, make sure there are plenty of refreshments and games, and you’re guaranteed to have a top-tier party. A few ugly- sweater-themed games that should be on the agenda include an ugly gift exchange, which is similar to the white elephant exchange, except

with the gaudiest gifts you can find; an ugly photo booth, complete with terrible, tacky props; and, of course, an ugly sweater contest.

This is the only time of year when slipping into a lurid red sweater with a stuffed Santa sewn on the front is considered trendy. So adorn yourself in the frumpiest, tackiest sweater you can find, and have some fun this December!

Thank you for your referrals!

Altman Family Lions Family

Currie Family Chen Family

Wolf Family

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