Blogging About College

I was chatting to a retiree from Norman, OK, a couple of days ago for a story for a national publication. When I talk to people beyond the 202 and 212 area codes, where many experts tend to congregate, it can be fascinating to hear how people are investing, coping financially or, for that matter, floundering.

At first I thought this Oklahoman was going to be a catch. How many people from Oklahoma do you see quoted by the national media in any given day? But it turned out that he didn’t meet the criteria. My marching orders were to find people who are struggling financially and don’t mind talking about it. The engineer seemed wealthy, but he was eager to share his views on what those less fortunate than him were doing wrong.

At some point, the retiree started talking about this amazing investment he has that will fare almost as well as the market, but at the same time protect his nest egg on the downside. It downed on me that he had plunked a large amount of his money into an equity indexed annuity, which is actually a terrible thing to do. As he bragged about this investment, I was trying to decide whether I should mention that an EIA is a dreadful idea or just let it slide. I ended up compromising. When he was finished talking, I mentioned in passing that EIA’s are controversial and moved on to another topic.

I was thinking about the conversation, however, when I was contemplating making a radical change to this blog. Retirees, in particular, can’t afford to make investing mistakes because unlike a 30-something they don’t have years to recover from knucklehead moves. Retirees and those approaching that milestone are also often the targets of financial charlatans because this demographic group possesses more money than younger people.

I’ve greatly enjoyed writing about retirement issues for many years and I devoted most of the Retirement Bible, which is badly in need of an update, to older investors. That said, my chief interest right now is writing about college issues. My new book, The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, is coming out in a few days and I’d like devote all of my blogging efforts to this subject. My brother Steven has just finished a neat web site to promote my unique book and it’s linked to this blog.

Through my blog, I’m going focus on such issues as paying for college, getting into college, evaluating schools, debunking the Ivy League mystique, evaluating student loans and much, much more.

One of my motivations for switching gears is this: I think families with teenagers heading to college are just as ill-equipped financially as people heading into retirement. While families are often not prepared financially for college, they typically compound that problem by committing serious mistakes when selecting schools. Students and parents pay dearly for those errors when they ultimately must grapple with debilitating debt.

A chief goal of mine is to help families reduce their financial burden by helping them find wonderful academic matches at discounted prices.

I’m going to keep all the blogging I’ve done during the past year on the site for now and will just start adding thoughts about college. My brother is going to change the header of this blog to something that looks academic and I’ll be on my way.

If you know anyone who would benefit from learning more about college strategies, please let them know about me and my book. Thanks!

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