Help Your Kids Avoid Student Loan Defaults

As a parent, I am torn between encouraging my kids to follow their dreams and tempering those dreams with a dose of reality. I want them to believe in themselves, and to chase whatever rainbows they seek while they are young, but as they grow into adulthood I want them to get real about where those rainbows lead. I don’t just mean that I want them to realize at some point that their chances of becoming fairy princesses or legendary heroes are slim. I want them to enter adulthood with realistic expectations, following dreams that will provide them with happy and successful lives while leaving them unburdened with decades worth of debt.

Too much debt

Pretty much everyone agrees that the United States has a student loan problem, although some stop short of calling it a crisis. While people are split on how to handle the issue, there is no denying that skyrocketing higher education costs combined with increased student loan debt need to be addressed.

Personally, I plan to deal with the student loan crisis at home. My husband and I both took out student loans when we were in college, but we paid them in full without ever trying to duck our debt. I expect no less from our kids if they should happen to use loans to finance their education.

Parents, train your children

The parents of today’s debtors are as much to blame for the student loan problems as anyone else. They allowed their children to grow up believing that they could be anything and do anything they wanted, but without ever telling them that some dreams are cost prohibitive.

In story after story about the student loan crisis, cases of students owing $100,000 or more are cited. Many of these students hold degrees that they can’t even use, or degrees which hold such low earning potential that the chances of ever paying off such staggering debt is extremely low. Parents of these students let their kids grow up chasing dreams headlong into massive debt, and it’s caught up with them.

How to avoid big debt

The best way to avoid big student loan debt is to raise the next generations of children differently. We have to get smart about debt as parents, and let our children know that no matter what the family desires, if the debt load is too high, the answer is no. This applies to everything from the latest gadgets and trendiest clothes to the most prestigious universities.

When it comes to student loans, we need to teach our children early to be honest with themselves. Do the math, and help them see how long it would take to pay off a student loan if their loftiest career aspirations don’t pan out. Research the earning potential of different degrees and career paths, and help them make wise decisions so they don’t spend the next few decades in debt. Help your children find degrees that are marketable and still offer the rewards and challenges they seek.

Better solutions start at home

There are many alternatives to running up large amounts of student loan debt. Your child may choose to go to school at a smaller, state university rather than a large out-of-state private school. Or they may choose a degree that will increase their upfront earning potential. If your child does not earn scholarships or grants to pay for school, they may choose to go part time while working, so that they are not saddled with so much debt when the graduate.

All of these decisions should be made early, some of them during your child’s junior year in high school. Therefore, it is not too early to start talking about options for avoiding student loan debt as early as middle school. If your kids understand it is a priority that they live happy and successful lives, unburdened by debt, they will be more likely to make smart choices when they start college. And that’s not just good for them, it’s good for the country.

A Beginner’s Guide to PayDay Loans

Pictures this, your car just broke down and you need $300 to get it out of the shop. What do you do if you don’t have any money set aside, poor credit and you can’t go without a car until you get your next pay check? Well, a payday loan is one possible solution, but you should know what you are getting into.

Not a Long Term Solution

Payday loan companies have wording in their contracts that states that a payday loan is a short term financial solution and not intended to be a long term debt solution. The disclaimer is required by law. The reason is because the longer you have your payday loan; the more you’ll pay in interest.

Extremely High Interest Rates

Interest rates for payday loans are roughly between $15 – $30 or more per term for every one hundred dollars you borrow. A term is defined by the amount of time between pay periods. Policies for the time frame between when you first take out your loan and when your first payment is due varies between companies.

Pay More than the Interest

Payday loans can become a vicious cycle for some people. If they get their next paycheck and all they can pay is the interest payment due, then the loan rolls over and continues to accrue interest. If you can’t pay the loan in full, at least pay more than the interest so that your principal goes down. As you pay down the principal loan, the interest rate drops as well.

Don’t Get Trapped

Even though most states have laws that limit how long a payday loan can be renewed, payday loan companies have ways of working around these laws. They may only allow you to pay the minimum interest payment for 3 months before you have to pay off the entire loan, but you can go in with your full paycheck and pay off the loan. After that they will give you a new loan on the spot; which is the same as making an interest only payment.

Never Double Up

If a pay day loan customer has trouble paying the minimal interest payment, he or she may borrow money from another payday loan company in order to make the payment. Well, unless you can borrow enough to pay off your first loan in full, then next pay period you’ll have two payday loans due instead of one. Even if you can borrow enough to pay off the first loan, you’ll end up paying more on the newer loan because it’ll likely be higher than your original loan was.

If you let them, payday loans can continue for years and you end up paying a small fortune in interest. You can also potentially get yourself in way over your head financially if you take out multiple payday loans. Payday loans should be used for emergencies only and, just as the name suggests, you should try your best not to keep any payday loan longer than one pay period.

5 Essential Types of Shoes for Spring & Summer Wardrobes

Spring and Summer are coming and that means it’s time to put away the snow boots and bring out the sassier styles. Shoes are being made more comfortable and stylish then ever so even if you’re not a fan of these types of shoes, give them a try. You may just fall in love with shoes that you never thought you would even consider wearing. These shoes should be in every woman’s spring and summer wardrobes for 2008.

Ballet flats are extraordinarily comfortable. They come in every color and pattern possible from polka dots and stripes to metallic silver and bright green. They slip on and stay on without slipping off, well pending that you chose the right size. These shoes are perfect for a casual night out, running errands during the day and are even comfortable enough to wear around the house. Pick the right pair and you will feel like you’re not even wearing shoes at all.

Bright colors may not be your style, but I promise it’s a great addition to your wardrobe. It adds a punch of color to an otherwise average outfit. Not to mention it’s fun to wear these colors. Adding bright colored shoes lets you add color to your outfit, without overdoing it. If yellow or blue shoes isn’t something you want to jump into right away, try starting off with red. Wearing bright colored shoes will grow on you and in no time you’ll be wearing colored shoes you wouldn’t have even thought of before.

Remember the patent leather shoes that you used to wear when you were a kid? Well now you can wear them again. You may not think that these are for you, especially since most people have a love or hate relationship with patent leather. I didn’t think I would be a fan of this style either- until I purchased my dark red patent leather heels. If I could live in them, I would.

If you’re not a big fan of wearing heels, but still want the extra height, try out a pair of wedges. They are seriously comfortable and still add sexiness to an outfit. They can usually be worn longer then heels considering that they have the extra support of the wedge heel. For those that aren’t used to wearing heels and have no idea how to walk with them, these shoes are great practice first in order to work your way up to wearing the heels.

Metallic shoes are just plain sexy. They can easily be worn during the day or at night and it adds a touch of glamour to an outfit. Metallic seems to bring out the sassy side of women when they’re wearing them. Silver and gold are the obvious colors of choice and I say for metallic shoes, any style goes.

Take advantage of the fun styles and colors before the cold weather hits again. At least with this season, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style.

How to Make Friends as a Stay at Home Mom

If you are a stay at home mom then you would know how difficult it can be to make friends. Your day may consist of carpool, play dates, and errands leaving you little room for a social life. When you do however, find an opening in your schedule for some social time you are left not knowing what to do with that time. Sure you would like to have some coffee with a friend or meet up with a friend and enjoy a nice day in the park with the kids. But you can not do any of these things because you don’t have any friends. You detached yourself from the social scene a long time ago when you became a parent.

If you are interested in building friendships but do not know where to begin take a look at some of the ways and places you can go to meet friends.

Before attempting to make friends you have to exude confidence and be very optimistic. Some parents may not be willing to open themselves up to a friendship but this should not discourage you.

Go to the park and let your child play with the other children.

If you notice that your child shows a particular interest in one child at the park, look for that child’s parent and spark up a conversation with her. You could start by asking the parent how old her child is. If the parent is more of a gregarious person she should have no problem continuing the conversation. Take a look at her body signs, if she appears to be open to talking then continue to talk with her. If she seems annoyed or uninterested with your presence do not continue talking to her. If the two of you hit it off well you could let the other parent know that you are looking for playmates for your kid, if she is interested offer her your number.

Enroll your child in extra curricular activities.

Think of some activities your child might be interested in and enroll him/her in them. When you pick up your child from the activities ask him if there is any particular kid that he enjoys playing with. The next time you go to pick up your child ask him to show or introduce you to his friend. Now that you know how your child’s friend looks you will be able to easily spot out the child and his parent. If you notice the child and his caregiver ask the parent if she would be interested in play dates. If she is interested then you could exchange numbers.

Go take your child out for a walk.

You never know what people you will meet on your daily walks. A parent may just come up and strike up conservation with you out of nowhere. If you do meet some pleasant parents, exchange numbers and schedule play dates.

Post ad on internet.

If you feel comfortable meeting others online you can post an ad in the parenting section of such websites as craigslist.com. You can mention that you are looking for mommy friends (or want to start a mommy group) to do play dates with. You will be surprised at how many responses you will get back. If you choose to do this make sure that when you first meet the person, you meet in a well lighted area where people frequent.

Engage in a hobby –

Such as cooking class, music class, gym class, whatever class interests you. Get to know the people in your class. You might find that some people have kids the same age or near the same age as your kid. Exchange numbers and meet up for a couple of play dates.

Go to mommy group-

This is the easiest way for parents to meet other parent. Almost every town has an organization that funds mommy groups. The local library usually holds weekly story hours for children and their parents.

Know your neighbors.

Get to know your neighbors and find out if they have children close to the same age as your child. Exchange numbers and invite them over to your home. Within time your friendship should prosper.

Write Your Small Business History as it Happens

Write your small business history as it happens

You make history every day.

The world at large probably won’t notice every move your small business makes, but what you and your employees do has an impact. Somewhere down the road, you’ll celebrate a significant milestone – 10 years or 20 years of serving customers, for example.

You might decide to publish a book or a video or a multimedia presentation about what you and your team have accomplished. Maybe you’ll show some slides at a special dinner or just reminisce at a company picnic about what it was like back in the day. 

Will you have the information you need?

You will if you start planning now for that special day and recording your company’s history while it’s fresh. This doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. You probably already have much of your recent history saved in digital form.

Here are some things to consider as you document your company’s unique story:

  1. Get employees’ input. They’re helping you make history and many will be happy to help document it, particularly on special occasions like retirements and anniversaries. Ask them to reminisce on video or audio recording or by writing up a few memories.
  2. Save PDF files of ads, brochures and other marketing materials. Make sure they’re created in a way that is searchable.
  3. Tags. Tags are free. Learn how to use them and tag your documents, photos and videos so you can find bits of information easily years from now.
  4. Business information that you consider important enough to put in a newsletter or news release is significant enough to keep for future reference. Save those searchable files and others – all tagged, of course – and back them up with your other business files. (Consider setting up a free or low-cost wiki to organize your information.)
  5. Using Facebook or MySpace page in your marketing efforts? It’s a good idea to write and polish that information in your word-processing program before you post it for the world to see. Tag and save those documents as your social media marketing archives, noting when and where you published the information.
  6. Your own website, blog, podcasts and other communications should be great sources of information. Be sure to include links to media coverage about your business as well as to your own archived news releases.
  7. Subscribe to relevant RSS feeds and use one of the many tools available to monitor social media for what’s being said about your business. You may want to keep some of that information, too.

Even if you ultimately decide not to put your history in a printed book format, you’ll have a valuable record of what happened and when it happened, and how you and your employees served your customers and community.

5 Key Internet Marketing Terms Defined

If you’re looking to begin a career, hobby or part-time job in online marketing, you have to get your facts straight from the beginning. If your goal is to make money by working from home and building websites than these internet marketing terms will also come in handy as you make your journey. Here are some key words and phrases that a beginner internet marketer must know.

Affiliate marketing –

In affiliate marketing there are two separate parties involved. You have the advertiser and then you have the person showing the advertisement or otherwise spreading the word. The person showing the ads or recruiting people to get to a different website don’t actually sell or offer anything, rather they get commissions or fees for getting customers for the advertiser. When you become an affiliate, you can display ads on your website, write blog posts about products or engage in countless activities geared towards generating sales for somebody else, which you then receive a portion of.

Search Engine Optimization –

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of fine tuning a website, article or other online presence towards being found and rated highly on the search engines. Google uses a complex algorithm for ranking web pages based on their Page Rank system, keywords, page titles, links into the site and more. When you participate in SEO activities therefore, you’re literally optimizing your content by trying to supply what a search engine like Google is looking for, in the form of appropriately placed keywords, keyword density, quality content and so on.

Search Engine Marketing –

It’s easy to get search engine marketing (SEM) confused with search engine optimization (SEO), which is described above. The main difference is that everything you do with search engine optimization you are doing organically, meaning that you aren’t paying for anything. Search engine marketing also incorporates paid elements of marketing a website, product or other online content online. This can include advertising in search results on Google, paying for directory listings on Yahoo or paying for other marketing services.

Pay Per Click (PPC) –

When you advertise on a search engine such as Google, you are participating in a pay per click, or PPC, program. Just as it sounds, you are paying an amount based directly on how many people actually click on your ads. So if nobody clicks on your advertisement, it was free! Of course, then nobody actually went to your website and you didn’t get any traffic either. When you rank highly in Google using SEO techniques, you’re said to be fostering organic search engine results. PPC or sponsored listings on the top or side of a Google page are not counted in organic results, but rather as paid results.

Niche store/niche website –

An online niche store or niche website is a very narrowly focused website that offers information about a specific subject. The more narrow the focus of a niche website is, the more likely it actually falls into the “niche” range and is generating highly interested traffic. A website about tools would not be a niche website, but a website about cordless power drills would be considered a niche website. A less focused website may gather more visitors but have most of them be uninterested to buy a product, click a link or sign up for something.

Successful Online Marketing: My 2009 New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s resolution for 2009, is to finally achieve some success in my online marketing campaigns. I’ve been learning the tricks of the trade for about 6 months now, and I’m ready for success in 2009.

Let me explain:

About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to be a webmaster as soon as I could possibly become one. You see, I’ve been a student with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for a year and a half now, studying Interactive Media Design. Along the way, after learning a little HTML, I decided that I liked the idea of building, updating, and designing websites in general. Then, after I felt confident that I new a little more than your average Joe, I decided I was ready to start targeting my work to make sales. I was tired of working for other people, and I decided my New Year’s resolution for 2009 would be to achieve online success. I have 5 different key areas I need to work on to get there.

Discipline-I feel that discipline is may be what I am slightly lacking to achieve my goals. Without discipline, one can hardly accomplish general goals, not to talk of a life changing one like mine. It’s pretty simple. I must do what I plan on doing every day, no matter how tiring or bothersome it might seem. After all, it’s worth it, since it will lead to success. No more playtime until all the work for the day is accomplished. In 2009, meeting my resolution will take carefully cultivating more discipline in me.

Organize-Even the most simple of chores and goals are hard to accomplish without a good deal of organization. I’ve discovered that, with a little organization, some of the seemingly hardest tasks in life can be accomplished very quickly. Without organization, one can run about in circles forever and never get anything done!

Follow Through-I have had a problem following through with ideas that might pop into my head. I know it’s a good idea, and it can work. It’s just that, if you’re not serious or determined, some ideas lead to nothing unless one is willing to work hard on them. Follow through is the key because it sets things in motion. In 2009, my resolution for success will be greatly spurred on by more follow-throughs on my part.

Health-I can’t tell you how many times I have felt so much better just from exercise and a healthy meal. It clears the mind, and provides back up energy you never knew you had. Sometimes it’s easy to remember to have a salad with those baby back ribs! No more in 2009! Exercise schedules and good eating habits are very important to keeping a clear head and achieving success in whatever field.

Adequate Rest- Last, but not least, is rest. I’m talking about real rejuvenating rest, here. So many times, I have jumped out of bed and started with my busy day, when I knew I could lay out a little longer. I’m not saying I’ll lie around in bed all day; I’ll just make sure I get good quality sleep. I have a lot of work to do to keep my 2009 New Year’s Resolution to achieve online success. I think that writing and submitting this article is a step in the right direction.

“Google Me:The Movie”

Technology has become such an intricate part of our lives. We find ourselves checking emails, researching information, watching videos and sometimes gathering advice on the many websites available through the world-wide web. It seems however, that no other internet research tool has made an impact as GOOGLE. Webster’s Dictionary has even added the word as a verb officially making it a part of the English Language. The definition of Google is to look up, to investigate, to explore.

Now, one man Jim Killeen has taken this phenomenon and turned it into a documentary which is currently in production. According to webpronews.com, Mr. Killeen is working on this documentary which traces his story from the day he “Googled” his own name. The information goes on to describe how the filmmaker begins traveling to meet “himself” in many different cities, towns, professions and circumstances. One of the interesting stories was of a Jim Killeen from Tucson, Arizona who was found dead in his home after three weeks of being missing. This story catapults the filmmaker into an investigation and takes him on a journey that includes psychics and a wife that is praying for his “resurrection.”

Googling oneself could be seen as vain, or self serving but how many of us have not wondered and perhaps gone through with putting our name in that little rectangular search box to see what the results would be. I know I have done it a few times myself and have been surprised and amazed at where I’ve shown up. What makes Jim Killeen’s concept interesting in the age of technology is that when he finds his namesakes, he takes it a step further and connects with all his other selves. They say that technology has made things impersonal and created a society of unconnected people but this exercise illustrated by Jim Killeen through film shows that technology can help us find ourselves in many different ways as we search to understand our own journey. There is something inate in all of us that makes us want to find our ROOTS or connect with like minded or similar individuals. Just look at the numbers on AC, a community of content producers sharing their art and establishing networks that might not have ordinarily been possible without technology.

From a marketing perspective, Jim Killeen scores big! What a concept to use this worldwide tool and cinematography as a means of branding one’s own name. You can bet your bottom dollar that by the time this movie hits the big screen it will have established a cult following, creating huge audiences EVERYWHERE. This project is truly an interesting commentary on society and how technology has transformed our lives. It is also pure marketing genius that will be referenced in theory and practice for years to come. Right now, I’m thinking D***, I wish I’d thought about it first! Since I didn’t, I will give kudos to Jim Killeen and congratulate him because “Google Me” is sure to establish him as a household name.

The next question remains, is GOOGLE affiliated with this film? According to a Google spokesperson, they are in no way affiliated with the film but they have heard about it and have blessed the endeavor by giving Mr. Killen permission to use their name. They also worked with Mr. Killeen to explain aspects of what goes into making the search engine such a powerful effective tool.

Personally, I could not wait to see what the documentary looked like so I immediately did a google search to find out if there was a trailer out there. I also wanted to make sure that my information was correct. Well all sources where correct because there it was! When I hit the link and arrived at on the homepage, I was immediately greeted with the filmmaker’s full name in the search box, and a quote below that read: “It all started when I Googled my own name…”

Quick Ways to Switch Between Bold, Italicized and Underlined Text

Everyone uses bold, italicized, and underlined text on many occasions to help organize their work, make titles and other facts stand out, and for many other reasons. But with the power to have the ability to switch the formats from one to the other, there is downtime when reaching to click the Bold, Italics, or Underline button, which certainly adds up over time. There is a tactic that I use, and that you can use, to speed up this process, which in time will help you produce your work faster and more efficiently. Also, don’t forget that you can mix Bold, Italics, and Underline formats with your text as well.

In this guide I will tell you to hold the “Ctrl” button and another button, depending on which format you would like to enforce on your text. So it its “Ctrl + B”, that merely means hold the “Ctrl” button and press the “B”, or whatever button you are looking for that correlates with the effect desired. To revers the formatting process press the same buttons again.

Bold

Bolding texts makes it stand out more, especially in big walls of texts. Also, bolded text is used in titles to make them stand out as well, and asserts their meaning. Bolded text stands out more in big paragraphs more than italicized text since italicized it still as thin, or more think than the text surrounding it. Bolding a letter, a word, or even a sentence is definitly the way to go to emphasize something.

So how do you bold your text without having to drag your mouse all the way across the screen to click the Bold button, and then reclick it when you’re done? Well, first you must select or highlight the text that you would like to bold and press “Ctrl + b”. This turns the text that you have highlighted into the Bold format.

If you would just like to type in bold automatically from a specific starting point, put the cursor in the text field where you would like to start typing, and press “Ctrl + b”. The text from that point on will be bolded. To turn off the bold, simply repeat the “Ctrl + b” keying process.

Italicized

As you can see, the title above that says “Italicized” is both in Italics and Bolded. Italics is used to hold out a word, or emphasize it as well. Italics are also used when displaying sarcasm in text, or trying to hold out the sounds of words in texts.

To create italiced text, highlight the text in which you would like to italicize and press “Ctrl + i “. If you would like to start typing in italics and the text isn’t there yet, simply press the “Ctrl + i” keying process prior to typing whatever you desire to type continous italicized text. To stop typing in italics from a continous text setting, hit “Ctrl + i” once again.

Underlined

Unerlined text is used in many areas such as citing certain information, composing definitions, and underlining titles. To emphasize something by underlining it in a paragraph doesn’t make it stand out that so much, so I suggest bolding it as well for more emphasis.

To create underlined text press “Ctrl + u”. You can either turn text that has already been typed by highlighting it and using the “Ctrl + u” process, or simply press “Ctrl + u” and start typing a new line, and then you will be typing continous underlinded text.

Mix

You can mix any two of the text settings (bold, italics, and underlined), or even all three. To do this just use the keying process of “Ctrl + x” (x being whichever you want [b,u,i]) The order in which you put in the formulas for bold, italcs, or underlined text doesn’t matter. You can turn off one effect at a time as if you were only using the one, and the other two effects will stay.

This information will definitly help speed up your typing process, especially with writing papers or guides that have a lot of sections. Using the bold, italics, and underlined processes in the way I have explained above will make it easier to switch between text effects with ease, and it makes guides and papers more professionalized as well when implemented the right way.