The College Money Guys - April 2019

April 2019

Award The


Send Your Kids to College, Keep Your Money at Home



As much of the country welcomes back warm spring weather and Houston remains as hot as always, I have a confession to make. I love the cold. This may sound sacrilegious to admit as a Houstonian, but as long as I can remember, icy winters and frigid office spaces have always been my happy place. In fact, this chilly preference has almost taken on a supernatural quality. Hear me out. At the time of writing this, I’ve just gotten back from Washington, D.C., where I gave a lecture to employees of the Fish and Wildlife service. The audience warmly welcomed my guidance on the new tax deductions but wasn’t prepared for the weather outside. Despite being late February in balmy D.C., the city had been hit with an uncharacteristically harsh bout of winter weather. I found myself feeling partially responsible. Almost every time I venture into the higher latitudes from late fall to early spring, I bring snowstorms with me. I’m not saying Jack Frost lives in Houston, helping families plan their financial futures. But after enough coincidences, like this trip to D.C., you begin to wonder whether you’re in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” I even have a full-blown origin story. The day I was born in a Virginia hospital, the state was hit by one of the worst blizzards it had faced in generations. My bad.

Instead, I’ve planted my roots in sunny Houston, a city so warm it can’t even attract a hockey team. Despite being a Houstonian for most of my life, I’ve never really adapted to the weather. I’m perpetually dehydrated despite drinking plenty of water, and I spend as little time as possible out of any air-conditioned room. As a lifelong Astros fan with season tickets, I often wish the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park would just stay closed. I say all this to emphasize my sincerity when I say there’s nowhere I’d rather be than Bayou City. While I like cold weather, I prefer warm people by far. That’s why I love Houston; it’s the friendliest place on Earth. Just look at the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Despite so many people being in truly desperate situations, we united as Houstonians and did all we could to help complete strangers. That storm took so much from us, but not our love and kindness. While I watched the snow fall outside the windows of the Dulles International Airport, I didn’t regret leaving. Sure, I was heading back to the heat, but also to a place where people wish each other a good day while passing on the street, where smiles come easy, and where casual Fridays are a way of life. Sitting in that terminal, I knew I should be brainstorming my next article for this newsletter. Instead, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to be home.

“I say all this to emphasize my sincerity when I say there’s nowhere I’d rather be than Bayou City.”

Whether I have freezing superpowers or not, I certainly thrived during the Cold War. Part of the reason I enjoyed my post at the Moscow embassy was the weather. Located just under the arctic circle, the Russian capital lies deep beneath meters of snow by October. My apartment overlooked the Moskva River, which I crossed every day to get to the embassy. During the dead of winter, Russians and American embassy workers alike would walk down the banks and pad across the frozen water because crossing the river by bridge meant risking frostbite in the winds. Were it not for the horrors of communism, I might have settled down there.

Stay sunny, Houston,

–Bra nnon Lloyd

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The Interesting Methods They Use to Fight Predators Many trees and plants are beginning to bloom, which means that they will soon have to ward off various predators. Most animals have a fight-or-flight response when faced with a dangerous situation, but plants can’t run or physically fight the dangers they face on a daily basis. However, what they lack in claws and teeth, they make up for in chemical and mechanical defenses. EXTERNAL DEFENSES microscopic, sharp crystals that puncture and inject chemicals into an animal’s mouth once they’ve bitten it. INTERNAL DEFENSES When a plant’s external defense fails, its internal protection takes charge. A plant lacks an immune system; instead, each cell is programmed to defend against any foreign object that comes in contact with it. If an

insect or disease attacks the plant, the plant will thicken its cell walls with waxy plating, close its leaf pores, and kill off sections of itself to preserve the whole plant. Plants also have unique chemicals that are deadly to insects and microbes, some of which we use today as seasonings, medicine, or drugs. In addition to toxic compounds, plants can release hormones into the air that warn neighboring plants or even attract other insects to kill would-be attackers. If you’ve decided to plant a garden this year, take some time to find out which natural defenses your plants wield.

Many of us are familiar with thorns, prickles, and spines, which are all examples of a plant’s physical defense. But many other plants’ physical defenses are not as obvious. Trees protect themselves with thick, hard-to-eat bark, which is comprised of a natural polymer called lignin. Leaves are often coated in a natural wax, which deters most insects and pathogens. Some leaves have trichomes, which are sharp, hair-like features that stab or prick insects’ legs as they try to land or walk on its surface. Trichomes often also release toxins that can cause irritation and inflammation. Some plants contain


“I can’t tell you how much working with the College Money Guys has helped me! I am excited about my future and way less stressed. Amazing team — amazing knowledge.” – Caitlyn P. “Honestly, we wouldn’t even be looking at private universities, or getting large scholarship offers from private universities, if not for Brannon and the College Money team. The admissions process is so crazy these days, I’m glad these guys are here to help. And they do help. They are very passionate about getting your kid into college and you not exhausting your retirement to do so!” – Courtney H.

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Everyone thinks they know the best way to help pay for college, but most of the advice passed around is founded on old logic and straight- up misconceptions. If you’re looking to get the most money for college, here are three important tips you need to know. PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS AREN’T THE ANSWER Scholarships are always welcome, but you shouldn’t spend a lot of time hunting down private scholarships from foundations or organizations. These kinds of scholarships only make up 1 percent of the possible funding available to your student. Instead of wasting time focusing on that 1 percent, apply for the other 99 percent of scholarships that come from the federal government, your state, and the schools your student applies to. NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FINANCIAL AID? THINK AGAIN. Too many students miss out on valuable financial aid because their parents assume they won’t qualify, so they don’t even try! The truth is most families making between $40,000–$125,000 per year who own a

home do qualify for some form of financial aid. Even if you don’t qualify based on financial “need,” many schools may still consider your student for “non-need” based aid. But you’ll never get any money if you don’t apply first! PICK A COLLEGE WITH COOPERATIVE EDUCATION Cooperative education, or “co-op”, combines classroom learning with practical work experience. Schools with these programs allow your student to alternate between taking classes and working in a job related to the career they plan on pursuing. It may take students an extra year to finish college, but they’ll be walking out with their degree and valuable work experience, giving them a better chance of landing a good job soon after graduation. The staggering cost of college means most students will be paying off their degree for years, if not decades, to come. Your student doesn’t have to be one of them. A smart strategy is the key to affordable tuition, and it will set up your student to start making good money quickly after they’ve finished their last semester.



Inspired by Saveur Magazine

INGREDIENTS • 1 pound ground chuck, 80 percent lean • 4 soft, white hamburger buns, split • 4 1/4-inch-thick tomato slices • 12–16 pickle rounds • 4 small leaves iceberg lettuce INSTRUCTIONS

• 4 1/4-inch-thick yellow onion slices • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil • Salt and pepper, to taste • Condiments of your choice

1. Lightly grease a small nonstick skillet with oil. Heat over medium-high. 2. While heating, gently shape meat into four patties 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Be careful to handle the meat as little as possible to prevent tough burgers. Season liberally with salt and pepper. 3. Sear patties on each side, about 1 minute per side. Reduce heat to medium- low and continue cooking until desired doneness, about 1 more minute per side for medium-rare, 2 more per side for medium-well. 4. Let meat rest for a minimum of 3 minutes. 5. To assemble, place patty on bottom bun and top with tomato, pickles, lettuce, and onion (in that order). Spread condiments on top half of bun and place on top of onion. Serve.

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2000 North Loop West Suite 200 Houston, TX 77018 713.422.2720


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Brannon’s ‘Chilling’ Confession

An Unmoving Defense


Are You Leaving Financial Aid on the Table?

Opening Day Hamburgers

3 Travel Myths Debunked


Traveling has many social and educational benefits, but some people have hesitations that prevent them from jetting off on new adventures. Below are three debunked travel myths to give you some ease as you plan your summer vacation! MYTH: VACATIONS ARE EXPENSIVE. FACT: You can travel anywhere on a budget. Tracking flights to score the best deal, setting spending limits, and packing meals are a few ways to save money. Hostels and Airbnbs are great alternatives to spendy hotel stays. Additionally, you don’t have to cross the country to have a great trip. Every state has museums, unique roadside attractions, historical sites, and a booming nightlife. When you know your price limits and what you want to do, traveling can be a fun and inexpensive venture. MYTH: TRAVELING IS DANGEROUS. FACT: If you’re smart about what you do and where you go, traveling can be safe. Go with your gut and only stay somewhere that is approved by travel guides. Visit places you feel comfortable in, and do your research by reading travel blogs, websites, and books to find places that have been vetted by others. Traveling in groups can also be a great way to lower your risk of danger. As long as you plan ahead, you will have a safe trip. PARIS ON A BUDGET? 3 TRAVEL MYTHS YOU SHOULD STOP BELIEVING

MYTH: JET LAG IS CAUSED BY A LACK OF SLEEP. FACT: While jet lag can make you sleepy, it’s actually caused by a disruption in your circadian rhythm. Our bodies are cyclical, and the circadian rhythm is set by both a natural need for your body to reset and outside forces, such as your job, time zone, and diet. Travel can disrupt this rhythm and routine, which leaves you lethargic during and after your vacation. Sticking to water before and during your flights and staying physically active during and after traveling are great ways to fight jet lag and get back into your normal rhythm. Don’t let these travel myths keep you from seeing the world. Set a budget, go with your gut, and prepare for a shifting rhythm to make your next adventure the best one yet.

Inspirational Moment

“Hope is not a strategy.” –Vince Lombardi

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