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Valuable Tips For College Moms & Kids: Surviving the First Year

I'm Proud! So Why am I so Damn Sad?

First of all, I'm back from a lengthy hiatus. For those of you who know me or may have heard on Twitter or IG, my kids dad died this summer. He was only 50. He died from colon cancer. He had it a few years ago and we thought they had removed everything and that the chemo got the rest. He did well for a few years. We got the sad and tragic news last October. It was back and had metastasized to his liver and lungs. Anyone familiar with cancer and the stages knows what that means. However he was still doing remarkably well. He took the kids skiing over Christmas and never appeared sick ... even while skiing the black diamonds. Most of his friends, colleagues, clients and family didn't even know he was ill. Steve worked up until close to the end. Some of you may remember that I was going to change my A to Z theme this year and write short memoir essays so my kids would have pieces of their dad, their dad and me, and the entire family in writing to always read. They didn't know how sick he was in March, when I wrote my pieces. Unfortunately, I had to back out of this year's A to Z, as Steve became terminally ill in April. He had an operation to place a stent into his liver. The first was unsuccessful, they replaced the metal with plastic, but he never got any real relief and things went downhill from there. I just wanted to let you know why I dropped out and where I've been. My kids needed me. I waited until I was fully committed to writing before returning to my blog. I intend to share those A -Z stories here, just as regular posts. I hope you will read them. They're special to me. 

Whoever said when you reach down into your own raw emotion, the visceral emotion flows onto the page -- nailed it. 
Painful to write, but the first time I've ever felt emotions oozing from every pore. It taught me how to tap into my own emotion for fictional scenes, but that's another post.

We Didn't Teach Her Enough About the Value of a Dollar

I'm Worried ... Afraid

So ...

I'm Sharing 1-5 Unparalleled, Innovative, Survival, Weekly Tips For College Students & Parents. (Beginning Next Week)

This is what we've been working our butts off for so long ... college. Kids out of the house. Kids earning advanced degrees with all their integral super-tech iPads, iPods, iPad Mini, MacBook Pro -- "Oh Parental Figures we must have the foremost, indispensable super, uber cool tech devices on the planet, less some other geek pass us by, leaving us in the dust ( FYI , that means living at home after we graduate from junior college).

Oh hell no. We'll take out another mortgage on the house if need be. What's the difference if we're on number 6 or 7 anyway? I mean, it's too late for us. We screwed up our lives. We filled out all those credit card pamphlets during college registration (just for kicks really), I mean, c'mon ... who in the hell, or in their right mind, or with any financial sense what - so - ever - would ever approve either your dad or me for a major credit card?

Let's see. Here is a breakdown of our application.: FOR REAL! No joke

Name -----

  1. Address: Dorm - University 
Age: Dad 17 Mom (Almost 17)

  • Current place of employment: Student
  • Are you a full time student: Why yes I am 
  • Apparently back in the good ole days - the pre "my credit sucks days" The title full time student carried clout and exempted the applicant from the ordinary requirement of needing a job. Said job which provided income. Income which enabled said student to make at least the monthly minimum card payments ... while still digging him/herself into a giant financial hole that this student's parent neglected to explain. All that compounded interested and crap. 
  • A simple, "Money is not free, you idiot." Would have sufficed 
  •  But I suppose my parents assumed since I graduated top of my high school class, scored in the top percentage on both the ACT and the SAT, that I'd figured that one out ...  on my own.
  • It's rather self explanatory ... isn't is?

Wrong! Wrong! Oh how very wrong!

No on ever claimed that book sense = COMMON SENSE.

Nope. They are two mutually exclusive animals. I speak from personal experience. 

Back to the application. A few more minor questions which assured the lender I had never worked before ... did not own any stocks or bonds ... didn't have a savings account, then I signed my name and dropped the pre-stamped envelope in the mailbox.

Yup kids, this was during that prehistoric time before the laptop💻 and other mind altering📡 electronics. You may have seen one before. They're blue and the window opens like a giant 📪 mouth and it swallows your letter. And get this ... once it eats your mail, you cannot get it back. That would be a crime. 

What's really cool about the process is that as soon as Visa approves your application and gives you some ridiculously low line of credit like $1500, your student P.O. Box becomes inundated with credit card applications.
Don't balk at the fifteen hundred. Some were even less. Some were a grand. Some credit lenders took a risk and extended a heftier line of credit to broke college students. Anyway, for a college freshman, that's like winning 100K in Vegas, especially when your measly monthly allowance is $500 bucks. How many of you remember a life of beer and Ramen noodles?

Wow, Now you can order Ramen Noodles from Amazon. But Why?Click on the Amazon button on the photo for your very own package. They sure ain't 10 cents anymore, but still dirt cheap. I'm thinking of sending some to my daughter at Ole Miss in a care package as a joke. I wonder if she'll like them?I think they're an acquired taste, plus I'm not sending any beer to wash them down.

My biggest challenge wasn't preparing for an Algebra exam that wouldn't occur for another three weeks. Heck no. I had to study the local pubs and bars to find out who had the best happy hour prices so my friends and I could eat and drink without spending a dime all week by hitting the free happy hour buffets.

More Visas, Master Cards, American Express ... hint (no freaking limit) Discover, and that's just the main cards. Every department store in America and a few I'm pretty certain don't exists begin filling up your mailbox. If you're even remotely stupid like we were, what do you do? Your eyes glaze over and you think of all the "FREE" flat screen, smart television sets, apple computers, iPods and other gadgets you can't live without. Then when that Newman Marcus 💳 comes in, you update the hell out of your wardrobe. Now you're styling . 

Why have all those cards if you aren't going to travel? "I've never been to Europe you tell your then boyfriend - later husband, father of this fantastic, bright kid headed off to college. You know the one you're both praying doesn't make 1%of the mistakes y'all did or do any of the reckless and dangerous things you two did. Ding Dong ... but then you remember, she's the genetic make up of one half of you (oh poor kid, no chance of ever having any street smarts) + one half of her dad. And warning flags and light bulbs
go off until your head spins like the kid from the Exorcist.

She's smart. Bright. But, also the same daughter, when you told her you didn't have any money ... just last year ...  she actually said "That's okay mom, just write a check." 

You inquired if they had taught her about insufficient funds or "hot checks" in school?

She said, Nope."

Cut from the curriculum along with cursive handwriting, so teachers could teach the more important matters. She said ... and I quote: 

"Mom, Ms.  ------ (I left that teacher's name blank intentionally. First, because, I can't be responsible for what I may say about her and secondly because I don't think it's fair to hold her up to ridicule. It's not the teachers fault that that the school system decided to cut some fundamentally important classes from the curriculum).

So, Ms. ___said, "There's only so much teachers can do with students during the few hours we have them. It's about time parents joined the parenting party. From now on, parents will be responsible for teaching Adulting 101 to their own kids. It's about time parents stepped up to the plate"

I nearly ran the car off the road, I laughed so hard. I mean, I get it. It's true. Teachers can't do it all. It's hard enough in some public schools to ensure the kids get two hot meals per day. But the way my kid spoke and how she used her exaggerated hand expressions. It was spot on.

Someone needs to teach our kids about money. Why shouldn't it be us ... their parents? I don't mean to turn into one of those wacky helicopter moms who makes your college aged kid call or text you five times on his drive home (a three hour drive) and BTW asking your kid to do that or expecting him to ALWAYS ANSWER YOUR CALL OR TEXT ... immediately, or within like 2 minutes is actually dangerous. Kids get in accidents trying to stay out of trouble for not returning mom or dad's texts quickly enough. I've seen some kids shake with anxiety when they get a text from their mom.

Oh, and please don't ask your high school SENIOR (who's never even broken a rule) or done anything to make you not trust her/him or your college aged student to send you a "proof photo" when they tell you they are at a movie or at dinner or at Target. It's humiliating, shameful, degrading and I PROMISE YOU ... ALL THE OTHER KIDS ARE MAKING FUN OF HER. No wonder she has anxiety and depression issues. No wonder her boyfriend breaks up after the 4th PROOF PHOTO   -- I mean 4th date.

OK I started this about the damn credit card applications that seemed to be a rite of passage back in my college days. We even got Diners Club? Say what? Who knew? Well, we maxed that baby out all right.

Do credit card companies still bombard new students with a plethora of card applications that a one legged, lying dog, in the middle of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy could qualify for?

I hope not. Like I said, we want our kids to benefit from our mistakes ... by not making them. Do we need to have extremely serious talks with our grads who just started college about turning down all the credit being thrown their way?

Or is credit much harder to come by these days so our kids are safe from the credit hounds who could potentially ruin the future credit of a teen with their first set of plastic. We all know what that feels like. Monopoly money. If you don't have to actually pay for it right then, for some reason it doesn't seem to cost you (especially your much younger self, money). 

Until the bills start taking over your student union mailbox. And the calls home begin.

"Dad help. I don't know what happened. These people said something about free for 60 months and now they want my money. Help me daddy. They are threatening me." You cry.

Dad says, " And you graduated with a 4.0? A perfect score on the math part of your SAT? What part don't you understand?"

Of course today the kids just text and the words don't make sense anyway.

5 Common Credit Card Mistakes College Students Make

How many of you have kids in college? Any college freshman who just started?  Are you scared? Worried Happy? Sad? Mixed emotions? Have you had the big financial talks?

I'm going to share one to five (1-5) tips each week that will help parents, students or both.

Not your average, run of the mill tips you can get anywhere. I'm offering selected, emerging tips based on lifestyles that kids lead today. Powerful, proven tips to keeps your kids safe and allow parents to worry less. 

Let's survive college together (again)

Have you ever noticed that when we grow up we tend to forget what it was like in high school? College? To have dated? Had our first crush? Sneak boys in the house? Sneak booze in the house? Sneak out of the house? I run into so many old friends and meet so many new friends who act like they have no idea what their kids are doing. I know that I'm not the only parent who remembers what high school and college were like. I told my kids a long time ago that they'd have a really hard time ever trying to pull a fast one over on me or their dad ... because anything they ever tried to pull ... believe me ... we'd either done it ... or tried to pull it off. I told them to forgot about coming home with any nonsense like "Oh my breath smells like beer because I kissed my date goodnight and he had a beer." 

They knew better than to try and fool us. We tried every trick in the absurd book when we were young and remarkably we didn't forget a single stupid thing we did wrong or a single stupid lie we tried to tell our parents. So, I don't know if some parents choose to bury their heads in the sand or maybe they have forgotten what they did as adolescents. Not me. And I will use my knowledge, stupidity and memory to ensure my kids don't make the same mistakes I did. I want them to have fun, but I also know it's a different world today. I have rules, not that many and they know my rules and so far ... so good.

I'm working close with my daughter, not as a helicopter mom, but with her dad's death this summer, we've been forced to make some major adjustments. I'm also going to walk some students through the Rush/Recruitment Process, if you're interested. I realize this is a much bigger deal in the south, but you're all welcome to visit. I've missed so many of you.

My kids and their dad

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