How to Hack College and Graduate with ZERO Debt

The following guest post is from Martin of Studenomics. Today, Martin officially launches Next Round’s On Me, where it makes good financial sense to start saving in your 20s so that your older self will thank you.

I graduated college with zero debt and plenty of stories that I’m never going to forget.

That’s a statement I’m very proud of. Now that I’m 27 and a few years removed from school, I constantly thank my younger self for surviving college financially.

I’m so grateful that I don’t have to worry about making payments on my debt because life’s too short to be broke and I likely would’ve never gotten involved with personal finance blogging.

Before you dismiss this article by assuming that I’m some dork who missed out on life, you’re incorrect.

I never missed any parties I wanted to attend, I always had a girlfriend in college, and I certainly didn’t stay in playing video games.

I was probably too wild for my own good. The one thing I had going for me was that I was stubborn.

I was determined that I would finish college with no debt so that I could party in my 20s and live life on my own terms.

I came from a poor immigrant family and I never was a fan of the idea of owing money (especially over $20k!).

graduate college zero debt
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GF¢ 037: 4 Ways to Save For Your Kids’ College Education (including what I chose)


One day all my 3 boys are probably going to be attending college.

You know what that means: $Cha-Ching.

My wife and I already decided that we don’t plan to pay 100% of their tuition, but we will try to help them out so long as they are working towards getting a degree.

A recent study by Fidelity reveals that others have similar aspirations, in that parents plan to pay 62% of their child’s college costs, but they’re only on track to pay 1/3 of that cost.

Knowing that college isn’t getting any cheaper, we started saving for our first son basically immediately after he was born, and we’ve followed suit with each son thereafter.

IMG - 4 Ways to Save for Your Kids' College Education (2)

It’s always nice to have choices like saving for your kids college, but many parents get confused on what’s best for them.

Having a plethora of choices can be overwhelming.

Most parents have too much other issues to deal with that trying to decide to the best college savings plan is shoved further down the priority list.

Don’t worry, busy parents….this post (and video) is for you! :)

For somebody who feels overwhelmed, here’s a quick look at the four ways that you can save to pay your kids tuition checks.

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Hey Parents, Don’t Make This Mistake When Saving For Your Kids College

The following is a guest post by Adam Hagerman. To learn more about Adam, you can find his bio at the end of the post.

Being a financial coach, I get to hear hundreds of financial stories and each one of them is different.

‘Someone might come to me with $120,000 in credit card debt and feel like theyíre out of options.

The next person might have $120,000 in their savings account but feel overwhelmed as to what to do with that money.

However, there always seems to be one thing that a majority of people ask me about – college savings for their children.

save for kids college
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Are You Cut Out for an Online Course?

A college degree is almost a requirement to get any job these days. Employers want to see an Associate’s degree at minimum, but a Bachelors degree is preferred. At the same time college costs continue to skyrocket making getting a great education an expensive proposition for many.

getting online degree

One of the ways that you can improve your education is to go online. Many schools now offer online courses that can help you work toward your degree. My husband teaches online courses for Utah State University, allowing students a degree of flexibility in their educational pursuits. Additionally, schools like Harvard and the University of North Carolina also offer online courses.

While you want to make sure that you are taking a trustworthy online course, an even more important issue might be that you need to focus on whether or not you are well-suited to online learning.

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Parents: Avoid the #1 Mistake When Saving For Your Kids College

Every parent wants to provide for their children; to give them a better life than they had.

This often carries over into helping them pay for college.

But is that always the smartest thing to do?

Here’s the biggest mistake I see with parents in saving for their kids college.

Don’t make this mistake.

Can You Convert an UGMA to 529 College Savings Plan?

ugma to 529 conversionAs I’m sure you can imagine, I get tons of questions here on the blog. Some of them are really easy to answer. Others require extensive research.

When that doesn’t work, I’ll then bring in the cavalry soliciting some of my CFP® peers to assist.

Recently, a reader emailed me with a question about converting her child’s UGMA custodial account to a 529 college account.

Initially, the question stumped me.  It was the use of the word “conversion” that left me unsure about the answer.  Luckily, I have smart colleagues.  :)

Michael Kitces, CFP® who is Partner and Director of Research of Pinnacle Advisory Group, Inc and also authors the popular blog Nerd’s Eye View became a battle buddy and helped me answer the question.    Thanks Michael!
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Never Say Never! Yes, You Can Graduate College Debt Free. Here’s How….

Debt Free Baby!

I graduated from college with $0 in debt.

Let that sink in a little.

Powerful isn’t it?  

With Occupy Wall-Street protests, college graduates moving back home, and complaint after complaint about college tuition, it seems like graduating college debt free is something of the past.

I’m here to let you know that it’s not only possible but highly attainable!

I don’t know what life situation you may be in right now but I want to share with you some steps that I took to achieve my goal of zero dollars in debt after college.  Yes, blood and sweat was involved, but at the end of the day, it was so worth it to walk off with my diploma knowing that I worked for my education without the help of banks or government aid.

So let’s get started!
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How to Use a Coverdell Education Savings Account

Many people who are saving money for a child’s college education are familiar with 529 Savings Plans. But what if you want to send a younger child to private school? A 529 Plan only covers expenses for higher education. In this article I’ll tell you about a lesser-known tax-advantaged vehicle that you can use for any level of education—from kindergarten through graduate school—called a Coverdell Education Saving Account.
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Time to Save for College: Best 529 College Savings Plans by State

A 529 College Savings Plan is one that allows parents to put aside money for the future higher education expenses of their children. This plan is one of the best ways to save because, unlike most other savings plans, education-related withdrawals are free from federal income tax. Many states have chosen to adopt the same policy and also allow tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses.
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How Much Should You Really Save For College?

A major goal for most parents is to see their children graduate from college and receive a good job so that they can live a long and fruitful life. The recent financial fiascos of the United States have put a strain on the ability of government to contribute to the ever increasing costs of college.

Historically college costs have inflated at around 5-8 percent annually, with some long periods of inflation over 8 percent. This could pose a major problem when your average investment return will be in the range of 7% annually based off the historical returns of the S&P 500.  This sounds overwhelming at first, but starting to save early is crucial to your success. From the day your child is born you will have approximately 18 years to be ready for the day your son or daughter is ready for college, but the question is, how much should you save?
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