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Teenager Jobs

August 3rd, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Businesses in our area have been struggling to maintain staffing. I assume that it’s related to the stimulus package(s). Some have restricted their business hours or their offerings in response to the shortage. Some of the fast food restaurants just close for the day when enough workers don’t show up. It’s sad. But – it’s been a help to teenagers that are off for the summer and want to make some money, including ours.


DS4 kept his lifeguard job and got a pay increase this year. DS3 got a surprisingly high-paying job at an Amazon warehouse. DS5 got his first ever job at Burger King. It’s been a great learning experience for him. He’s learned about using cash registers, customer service, and of course making (unhealthy) food. The boys were required to take a career education class earlier in high school and one assignment was drafting a resume. Poor DS5 had no job experience, no volunteer work – pretty much a blank page with LARGE font to make up for the lack of content. It was a wake-up call. Now’s he’s done a cool volunteer project offered at school and gotten his first job.

Impending Transition

March 30th, 2021 at 07:09 pm

Tomorrow we move back to Dad’s house and a week and a half later, we head home. Then I return to work. Change will be the norm for the next couple of weeks.


Our annual egg hunt will include only two of the five boys but the addition of three cousins this year, and it’ll be at Dad’s house. I mailed each of the three boys at home a consolation prize. I paid just as much for the shipping as the value of the contents. It was a case where the sentimental value made the shipping cost worth it. (around $20 each)


Half my amalgam fillings are replaced now and the other half scheduled for the Fall. I met with the dentist here this morning to review sleep study results and to do an entire head scan. The information that can be gleaned from the tests about my breathing and potential health conditions is surprising to me. I found it interesting.


I spent over $100 buying books and CDs related to the boys' classes and calculators with trig functions since they left theirs at home. 'Educational' budget line item.





New Year, New Semester

March 2nd, 2021 at 03:24 pm

DS3 went back to college for the spring semester. The dorms are open though the classes are online. Students have the option of attending from home but he’s an athlete and so far, spring sports are on. The semester will be split up into mini-phases like they did in the Fall so that if a course returns to the classroom, the classes will be small. It’s interesting to see the creative responses to the Covid-related constraints in place now.


The semester bill including food and housing but not books and materials was $10,400. This is how the funding was cobbled together this time:

                $1000 – scholarship

                $4000 – cash set aside

                $5400 – 529 savings


DS3 is looking into other scholarships since he knows we’d split them with him. No word yet on any successful results.


New Kid, New Semester

August 7th, 2020 at 01:15 pm

So here we are just a couple of months after DS2 graduated and flew the coop. Now DS3 starts college this month. A fresh new round of cobbling together funds to pay the semester’s expenses. This is what Fall 2020 looks like financially:

Total bill from the university for housing, food, tuition, & fees - $10,637. It’s slightly less than I expected, maybe because now the semester ends just before Thanksgiving.

This is how it’ll be funded:
$1,000 scholarship
$2,597 balance of 529 account from old state
$4,000 cash set aside
$ 25 scholarship
$3,015 withdrawal from current 529

I wanted to transfer the funds from our old state’s 529 plan to the current plan after we moved just for simplicity’s sake but the old state informed me that I’d lose the ‘earning enhancements’ that had been paid into my account by the state if I transferred it. It’s just 2%, but still, it’s free money. I didn’t want to leave money on the table so I kept the accounts open. We had accounts there for DS1, DS2, and DS3. I’ve always pulled that money out first so I could close the account. This is the last kid with an account there so finally I’ll be able to close it completely.

Our current state doesn’t provide any contributions but it does provide a state tax exemption for money contributed to a 529 account – ANY 529 account – up to the gift tax exclusion which is around $15k per kid. Since I could choose any 529, I did research back then to find a good one. I selected the Utah plan and I’ve not been disappointed. The fund choices are good (Vanguard), the website is easy to use, and it’s easy to make withdrawals. For that withdrawal, I completed the request online on their website and the money was in my account in two days. In contrast, the old state’s plan doesn’t offer online withdrawals. I had to print out forms, including a tax form, then scan and e-mail them in. Now I’m still waiting for a paper check to arrive. I hope it gets here before the tuition is due. Otherwise I’ll have to temporarily transfer money from a savings account. Grrr.

I set aside $4000 cash per year (at least) from my income so that I’ll qualify for the American Opportunity Credit deduction on our taxes. It provides a refund/credit of $2500 if $4000 was spent on college tuition. It doesn’t provide the credit for money spent on college-related things like housing & food but I’m using 529 funds for that. You also can’t get the credit if you used all 529 funds because that would be double-dipping. You also have to have an AGI of $160k or less. As I type this, it sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Like most things financial, you just have to know the rules.

That $25 scholarship? I’ve waited 10 years to use that! DS3 participated in an after-school bowling camp during the winter of third grade. He’s high energy so I just wanted something active for him to do indoors while I worked in the afternoons. It was a neat setup: the bowling alley sent a bus to school to pick up the kids. They gave them homework time, pizza for snack, and then taught them to bowl. At the end of the week (or two? I can’t remember.), there was a bowling tournament for the kids and DS3 won the $25 scholarship as a prize. We laughed about it and told the grandparents that he already had an athletic scholarship for college at age 8. A couple of times over the years I got paperwork about the scholarship and had to create an account online, updating passwords sometimes. The online request to get the money was straight-forward but they won’t send it to me – it must go straight to the school. It makes me chuckle to think of the person in the bursar’s office who will receive that official scholarship check for $25! So really, I probably worked hard for that 25 bucks but again – it’s free money. I reminded DS3 that his bowling performance is helping him now! I don’t know if he’s bowled since then.

We’ll still have books and the costs related to setting up his dorm room. So I expect to spend another $500 or so. Then I’ll start thinking about next semester.

Student Loans

February 21st, 2020 at 05:22 pm

College funding is a priority for our family. I hate student loans so much – it seems like they hold young adults back right at a time in their lives that they should be future-focused and optimistic. We communicated to the boys early that we would do everything possible to pay for college so they didn’t need to start their adult lives fighting debt. In order to do that, there are things we sacrifice but we’re okay with it because our priorities are in line with our values. So we don’t have cable, car notes, cleaning services, or annual vacations for example, and we don’t routinely eat out beyond celebrations. (though if you read an earlier post, you know we don’t execute this flawlessly) We don’t buy cars or cell phones for kids and we don’t intend to help pay for weddings or houses.

With that stated though, there is a requirement for the boy. He must provide a return on investment for the college spending in order for us to continue funding college. DS1 didn’t do that and I cut him off after his second year of college. This was a serious ‘tough love’ move on my part. So you don’t think I’m heartless, I should say that DS1 is an extremely capable intelligent kid. He could make straight As if he busted his rump to do it. Had he been putting forth his best effort and come up short, I’d have been more compassionate – I promise. Instead it was his social life that he unfortunately prioritized. He’s an extrovert (my opposite!) and he enjoyed parties and didn’t regularly attend all his classes. Of course he didn’t volunteer this info, but I figured it out. I told him that I hoped he finished up his degree but that he’d be doing it on his own nickel. And I told him that if he succeeded, no one would be prouder than me because I’d understand what it took for him to do it.

To his credit, DS1 didn’t debate and he didn’t play the victim. He knew he’d messed up. So for a year or so, he sat out while he worked full-time. He discovered then that the jobs available to him without a college degree were limited and didn’t pay well. Then he re-enrolled at the college and he got student loans. He hit an issue at that point. Even though he was no longer a dependent for our taxes, applications for loans beyond $7500 (I think that was the amount.) required that a parent either co-sign or take them out. So he came to me. I’ll be damned before I co-sign a student loan! But because I did support DS1’s effort to finish school, I offered to be the lender instead. Today he owes me $14k. One of the stipulations of my loans was that they have to be repaid in 3 years – not 10 or more like the government allows. I want him to bite the bullet and get the debt behind him.

DS1 graduated in December and just accepted a job offer. He has two roommates in a similar position that he’s known for years. Both have entry-level jobs and are paying off student loans. (They jointly celebrated sometime last year when one of them got his balance below $100k!) So now I’m reminding him about his payment obligations and offering to help him budget his new pay. Because of the precedent I set with DS2 on splitting scholarship money, I am giving a credit to DS1 for the small athletic scholarship he received one semester.

The payments I receive from DS1 will go to house debt.

I am very proud of DS1. He finished two years of college while working full-time to support himself. In my mind, his super expensive lesson had a happy ending.

Now you know why I’ll never state that all my boys graduated without student loan debt despite it being important to me.

Financial Progress on the College Front

February 15th, 2020 at 03:11 pm

This week included payment of my quarterly bonus from the company. I used it to pay the remainder of DS2’s apartment rent for the 1-year lease period. The only remaining college costs for him now are food and electricity – about a thousand total, and I have most of that set aside. So DS2’s college costs are essentially done.

His apartment lease is an odd one to me because it is one contract for all the boys and requires every parent to be a cosigner. Apparently housing is scarce enough around this major campus that the property management companies can make these unreasonable requirements. That was not the case at DS1’s college where each roommate had his own contract with the property management company. DS2’s roommates are good kids from our town that he had already befriended before college. It’s been an education for him though to see how differently they approach money. One waits until he sees the rent is past-due before paying it. The notice is his reminder. And there is a charge – something like $5/day for each day it’s late. Because we pay ahead that’s actually helped him avoid late payments but he has told DS2 that he wishes we wouldn’t do that because it messes him up not to get the late notice.

Also this week DS3 signed his NLI (National Letter of Intent) for his college that included some scholarship money. It feels so nice to have the college decision official and behind us.

Final Tuition Bill

January 17th, 2020 at 01:59 pm

Well for DS2 it’s the final bill. He expects to graduate this May. The tuition & fees bill from the university is just under $11,000. Each semester we cobble together funds to pay for college so for this bill the funding looks like this:

$6200 funds from 529 account
$4200 half of scholarships received
$600 cash set aside

529: This is our last withdrawal. The account for DS2 is now closed. I like closing accounts – it makes me feel like I’m simplifying my financial life.

Scholarships: I made a deal with DS2 that if he brought scholarship money in, we’d split it. As a result, he brought in $2500 his junior year and $16,000 his senior year. I wish I’d made the deal sooner – we paid full price for his freshman and sophomore years. I’m pleased to know that he used his share to fund his Roth IRA for 2019. [Not all my boys are so responsible – this one gets it.]

Once I pay for the remainder of his rent ($500 x 6 months), food ($200 x 5 months), and electricity ($20 x 7 months), then I can say that I’m DONE with DS2’s college costs. There will probably be some graduation fees too – hopefully they are minor. Then I’ll focus attention on DS3’s upcoming costs.