How the toss of a coin determined my fate

Hello! I have returned from my final big trip of the year, and I've resumed working behind the scenes here at Get Rich Slowly. Soon, new articles will begin to appear on this site.

Oh, wait. Here's a new article now!

On my most recent trip, I happened to tell the same story twice to two different groups. In doing so, I realized that it's a story I've never told here. That's unfortunate. It's about an event that had a profound impact on the course of my life -- and my finances.

To bide the time while I work on longer articles, today I'd like to share how my fate was decided by the literal toss of a coin.

Going to College

My parents never pushed higher education on my brothers and me. Both my father and mother had attended church schools briefly -- Goshen College for him, Brigham Young University for her -- but neither one graduated. My uncle got a math degree from a local junior college, and my cousin Duane got a business degree from yet another church school.

Growing up, I can't remember that college was ever discussed in depth. It came up in conversation now and then, but there was never any expectation that my brothers and I would go.

But: I was a nerd. I hung out with other nerds. I read and I wrote. I entered math contests for fun. My favorite movies were about college and about college professors. I romanticized college life (and still do today).

Mitch and J.D. were (and are) nerds

Mitch and J.D., nerds in 1984, nerds in 2019

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Seven things college freshmen don’t need — and ten they do

This article originally appeared on NerdWalletThose ubiquitous checklists of “dorm room essentials” for college freshmen are filled with items that will be ditched by the end of first semester.

Some parents “go to the store and grab a list like they did when their kids were in elementary and high school and just go straight down the list,” says Lisa Heffernan, mother of three sons and a college-shopping veteran. Or they buy things they only wish their students will use (looking at you, cleaning products).

You can safely skip about 70% of things on those lists, estimates Asha Dornfest, the author of Parent Hacks and mother of a rising college sophomore who’s home for the summer.

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More about...Education, Spending Wisely

What I learned (and taught) at Fincon 2018

Greetings from sunny and sweaty Orlando, Florida!

It's been a long, lovely, crazy week behind the scenes at Get Rich Slowly. I've spent the past ten days hanging out with fellow money nerds at Fincon, the annual "money and media" conference. Fincon started in 2011 with just 225 attendees. Now there are over 2000 attendees — including nineteen of us who have been to every iteration.

Here's a quick run-down of what I learned (and taught) at Fincon 2018. Continue reading...

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Personal finance for engineers: An introduction to money management from Stanford University

Personal Finance for Engineers (CS 007) is a new course being offered during the 2017-8 academic year at Stanford University. Led by MBA (and Stanford graduate) Adam Nash, the class explores real-life situations using the latest info from behavioral finance and practical statistics. (Here are Nash's thoughts about the first class, including a survey of his students.)

Nash is making his lecture notes available via Slideshare. Here are links to the sessions that have been completed:

Here, for instance, are the slides from the seventh lecture, "Good investing is boring".

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7 Tricks That Helped Me To Become Financially Secure in College

saving money in college

Do you ever feel like debt and homelessness are going to overwhelm you? Me, too, or at least I did. Ever since I was accepted into college, I'd been struggling to utilise my government support effectively and managing my funds from freelance gigs and casual work was an absolute nightmare. That was until I figured out how to save money successfully, and actually make some along the way.

7 Tricks That Helped Me To Become Financially Secure in College

I've compiled a list of nifty tricks that boosted my income, and helped me to stay out of the poor-house.

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Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Money in College

College students laying out on a nice day -- likely not thinking about money problems

With more than 20 million students enrolled in colleges and universities and with the average cost of a four-year degree at nearly $10,000 per year (triple that number for a private institution), scores of Americans will realize now or later that higher education comes with serious financial implications -- for them and their parents.

Many students will finance their education with student loans. The average 2016 college graduate has more than $37,000 in loan debt, but there are ways to lessen that financial burden. From leveraging student discounts, saving on textbooks and cost-effective social activities to working while in school or being prudent about credit card debt, students can navigate the serious financial responsibilities of college life and come out ahead. Of course, it helps sometimes to have...help. We developed this guide to be a comprehensive roadmap, something to keep you fiscally fit from your first days on campus to the very last year of your studies. Continue reading...

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Preparing for College (and Life)

Photo illustration of a graduation

About one month after I graduated from high school, I moved out of my parents' home for the first time. Freedom! No curfew! No rules! I had been waiting for this day for years. "When I graduate from high school, I am so outta here!"

Shortly after moving out, though, I realized I wasn't quite as well-prepared as I thought I was. One of my similarly immature friends was telling me about a minor car mishap with another driver. She hadn't known how to handle it, like the exchange of car insurance information and whether or not the police should be called. Her boss gave her advice, but it made me realize that I didn't have a clue what to do either.

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8 Tips to Reduce College Costs

A photo illustration of a fictional university called Big Bucks U.

Sticker shock can be a real “wow” moment when parents first consider the costs of sending their child to college. All-in costs — including tuition, room & board, books and incidentals — can range from about $15,000 to over $60,000 annually.

Take a deep cleansing breath. Exhale. Have a seat. Take another deep breath and begin thinking strategically.

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7 sure-fire strategies to win college scholarships

How much can hard work in school and when applying for scholarships reduce the overall costs of getting a college degree? Well, in our family's experience, it's amounted to nearly $150,000 so far. (I say that because we have two more children to put through college.)

Hard Work Over the Years Brought Choices

Our oldest, Aziza, is a high-achieving, ambitious student. She plans to graduate in four years with a triple major: Business Honors, Marketing and English. Needless to say, I'm a proud mother who is thrilled at all that Aziza has accomplished -- and what lies ahead for her.

When she began getting college acceptance letters, it kind of felt like we were winning the jackpot again and again. But really it was because of the years of planning and hard work. We were excited not only because Aziza was accepted to seven great schools located all across the country, but five of them offered her terrific scholarships as well.

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More about...Planning, Education

Strategies for an affordable college education

As you gaze at your newborn or newly adopted son or daughter, one of these thoughts may run through your head:

Time has a way of sneaking up on us. Seemingly overnight, that gurgling infant morphs into a 12th-grader looking at college or vocational education.

According to The College Board, tuition and fees (but not housing) at U.S. colleges in academic year 2014-15 ranged from $9,139 (state residents at public college) to $22,958 (out-of-state residents at public universities) to $31,231 (private colleges).

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More about...Education, Planning