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3 Steps to Financially Prepare Your Student for College


Preparing your student to be financially successful and independent in college is a balancing act. You want to provide financial assistance and give as much advice as you can to help your sons or daughters be successful, but you also want to foster their independence. That means not stifling their individual growth, financially or personally, by being overly involved. So how do you walk that tightrope?


Set Up a Budget Plan with Your Student


If you plan to deposit money into a college spending account for your children make sure you discuss how they should manage it first so they don’t blow it all at once. Help them set up a monthly plan that takes into account expenses like laundry and meals, but also the activities they don’t anticipate, like attending sporting events. Be honest and let them know what your expectations are for spending, as well as for saving money to cover their expenses. Introducing them to free, online management resources like Mint.com is a good way to help them create a budget, track their spending and make responsible financial decisions.


Once you’ve helped your children set up their budget framework, allow them to make it work without interfering. If they struggle at first, that’s okay. The consequences of mismanaging their money at this early stage in life is minimal. It’s better for them to learn from these early mistakes so that down the road when money management really counts they will make better financial planning decisions.  


Encourage Financial Independence


Discuss the benefits of working a job in college. A part-time position around 10 hours a week will help your children sharpen their time management skills, productivity and organization. Encourage them to set up their job earnings as a spending allowance instead of using it for tuition or dorm room fees. Doing so will allow them to better learn how to allocate their money and will help to create a connection between earnings and the money they spend. You should also consider encouraging your kids to get a credit card with a low spending limit so they are free to make additional financial decisions and build credit. Credit card debt can be a serious danger for many college students, so impress upon them that credit card interest and charges should be included as part of a budget.


Help your Student Stay on Budget


Creating a budget is the easy part. Sticking with it, however, isn’t always as easy, especially for students who are new to the responsibilities. Staying on budget will largely be up to your sons or daughters, but you can help them in a few ways:


-Suggest that they keep a daily spending record. Jotting down what they spend will go a long way toward keeping track of where the money is actually going. 

-Your students probably aren’t the only ones working with a budget. Encourage them to connect with others who are also monitoring their expenses. Sharing budget suggestions with other students can help keep your children cognizant of spending.

-At the end of each semester or school year sit down with your children and review their finances to help keep them on track.


Creating and sticking to a budget can be a real challenge for college students at first. Working with them on financial planning for school, while allowing them to make their own choices, will help them prepare for life.




7 Ways to Balance Your Life and Work


For many of you reading this blog, the hectic demands of your career often seem to leave you little time for your family or your personal life. Well, you aren’t alone. Studies show that when work and life are out of balance it can result in unhealthy levels of unhappiness, stress and even reduced productivity. Managing both worlds in a way that you feel satisfied is a difficult challenge. So, what can you do to find an equilibrium?


Here are seven ways to start shifting the balance to the center:


1. Set Priorities in Your Schedule

The first step is to figure out what your priorities are. Ask yourself what your top priority is, then your second and so forth. Once you’ve identified your top five priorities, consider all the things that compete with them, then decide what you need to cut out. Many people waste time on activities or people that add no value to their lives, so it’s important to recognize that and to pursue those activities that mean something to you.


2. Build Recharge Time into Your Schedule

When you plan your week, make sure to schedule time with your family and friends, or for an activity you enjoy alone. Shoot hoops with you children, visit your local planetarium or stop by the library, for example. A personal activity doesn't have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Even setting aside an hour of time to read a book or take a walk will do you good. Putting it on your calendar gives you an incentive to follow through and gives you something to look forward to.



3. Reconsider Your Approach to Chores

Consider delegating or outsourcing chores to someone else or approaching your errands in a more time efficient way. Order groceries online and have them delivered. Hire the neighbor’s kid to mow your lawn or trim your bushes. Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off. You can also try trading services with friends. If you enjoy cooking, offer to make a meal for your neighbors in exchange for them babysitting your son for an evening. Your friends and family are likely looking to balance work and life as well. You can help each other do that.


4. Ask for Support from Work

If you feel you need to seek a better work/life balance talk to your boss and your colleagues. Propose a plan and ask them to respect it and help you achieve it. Make sure you also use your vacation time. Taking at least take two weeks off from work per year is an important recharge period. You don't have to spend a lot of money and or travel to another country to get the rest you need, but taking time off will help you be happier and more productive when you return to work.


5. Exercise Regularly


Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert and relieves stress. Adding an exercise regimen to your already busy lifestyle may seem difficult, but it will help keep your body and mind healthy and reinvigorate you inside and outside of work.



6. Set Tech Boundaries

Smart phones and other technological devices make your life easier but they also blur the lines between work life and personal life. Make sure they don’t consume both. When you set aside personal time to do activities, or you spend time with friends and family, think about shutting down your devices for a while so you don’t end up wasting that personal time or getting pulled into something work-related.


7. Continually Evaluate Your Work/Life Balance

Achieving a balance between life and work is something you’ll have to keep working on because your needs and wants will change. At least once a month spend some time to reflect on your balance and make adjustments to your priorities and schedule if needed.




Life Insurance Primer: Term or Permanent?


So you’ve decided that life insurance makes sense for you. Now you face a basic decision: term life insurance or permanent life insurance?


Term life insurance is easier to understand. It can provide a fixed death benefit to your beneficiaries for a specific term, or period of time—typically 10, 15, 20 or 30 years; it’s up to you. During that period, you’ll pay a set premium, which is determined when you buy the policy. And when the term expires, so does the coverage.


That’s where permanent life insurance comes in. This type of life insurance policy, which includes several different kinds of policies, can provide lifelong financial protection. It’s designed to cover you for the rest of your life, and it can include cash value appreciation with tax-deferred growth.


To find out more about the various benefits associated with life insurance, see our videos here.


And to learn more about which type of life insurance is right for you, talk to your Midland National representative.



4 Fun Ways to Enjoy the Fall Season On a Budget


When we think of Autumn we imagine beautifully crisp weather, leaves changing colors and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. But Fall also offers a variety of inexpensive and unique outdoor and indoor activities that you and your family should take advantage of before the Winter comes. Here are four great ways to enjoy the season:  



Visit a Pumpkin Patch


When Autumn comes many farms give the community a chance to pick pumpkins, attend festivals, take a haunted hayride, play games or get lost in corn mazes. Find a farm or pumpkin patch near you to see what fun activities they offer.


Go Apple Picking


Going to an apple orchard is a healthy and fun family activity to do in Fall. Not only does the trip give you a chance to get outdoors, once you have apples, you can make all kinds of great dishes or use them to play Fall games in your backyard, like the classic bobbing for apples.


Cook Fall Dishes


Apples and pumpkins are delicious ingredients for some of your favorite Fall dinners and desserts. The internet is full of great food sites with recipes you might not have thought of that capture the spirit and color of the season. Here are 47 from Bon Appetit to try out: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/fall-recipes


Craft with Your Kids


Fall is the perfect time to have arts and crafts sessions based on the season. You can find all kinds of creative items in dollar stores and other inexpensive shops for making spooky decorations and costumes before Halloween arrives. You can also find some paints and markers to do pumpkin painting, which is a great alternative to carving pumpkins for little kids. Or try some leaf crafts, like these 25 ideas from CountryLiving.com.




Giving Back is Good for Your Mental Health


We all know that volunteer activities can be good for the soul. A new study shows that giving back to the community also can give middle-age and older adults measureable health benefits.


The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham in the U.K., found that people in those groups who spent time volunteering had higher mental health scores than those who didn’t. The researchers surmised that volunteering can widen social networks and provide a sense of purpose, especially for folks in retirement.


Interestingly, the benefits are less apparent in younger people – perhaps because they are less likely to lack social activity and purpose.



Read more at Healthline.



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