Episode 24: Debt Free College with Denise Thomas – Transcript

Wealth On Any Income Podcast Episode 24

Hi Folks. Welcome to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast. This is where we talk about money, tips, techniques, attitudes, information and provide inspiration. I'm your host, Rennie Gabriel.

In previous episodes, I spoke about your five-year financial goal, how to work with other people to achieve your goals, and the difference between good debt and bad debt and how good debt can support you to create wealth.

Today we'll have an interview with Denise Thomas. And we'll talk about how to create a debt free college graduation. This is great for both parents and grandparents to know now - not to look at one to two years before a high school graduation. Next week, I'll be reading from my Wealth On Any Income Book and cover how to construct, and what to look at, on a balance sheet. Today's interview will be around 15 minutes.

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Rennie Gabriel  01:01
Denise, thank you for being on the podcast with me - the Wealth On Any Income Podcast. I look forward to our conversation. Let me do a little bit of introduction for you. And I think this is an excellent topic for my audience in that what you do is support people to get into college and end up getting out of college debt free. And the amount of student loan in the country is enormous. I think that's short enough. And let me have you tell me, how you would describe who you are and what you do. And then I've got a couple questions for you.

Denise Thomas  01:38
Awesome, Rennie. Well, thank you, again, for having me on your show. I'm really excited about this opportunity to let parents and students know that college debt really isn't a requirement. There are hundreds of thousands of college students every single year that graduate debt free. And I was able to develop a program that all but guarantees that  - for most families - to be able to send their kids to school, without mountains of college debt. And without taking from your own personal income or retirement savings or investment savings, to pay for your kids to go to school. I'm an international best-selling author, a TEDx speaker, and creator of 'Cracking the Code to Free College.' I have been doing this for many years after figuring out how to do it for my own kids. Only 1.5% of college students graduate with enough scholarships to pay for 100% of their cost of attendance. I did it twice.

Rennie Gabriel  02:36
That is just so fabulous because if it wasn't for what I'm and by the way, this isn't for just parents who are having their children going to college, but grandparents as well, because I know I'm helping my grandson, even though he got a full scholarship, get into a college and he still has to pay for room and board. So they're still help that's needed, and so not just for parents, but can be for grandparents as well.

Denise Thomas  03:07
Yeah, it's actually a great program for grandparents to give to their children for their grandchildren to be able to do this with their kids. There's so much out there that we don't know about - that parents have not been told or for the last 30 years, honestly Rennie we've been believing a lot of things that are not true when it comes to going to college.

Rennie Gabriel  03:32
Oh, and in many other areas too, not just what it takes to go to college. And since this podcast is Wealth on Any Income, and we raise Philanthropists, one of my questions is - is there a particular charity that you support?

Denise Thomas  03:48
Yes, actually, I love Spikes K9 Fund. I'm a dog person. I've always had dogs throughout my whole life growing up - even as a kid we had an animal, and they're part of my family. I really love dogs. And when I heard about Spikes K9 Fund, they supply protective gear for all of our canine first responders and canine military. It's something that we don't realize the vast majority of canines that we have in uniform - their handler or owner has to provide their protective gear. That stuff is freaking expensive. I'm sorry about using that word, but it really is. And so this helps with getting them their eye goggles if they're going through debris from a disaster of some sort, looking for survivors. Anything like that - protective gear for the ones who are helping our, you know, our military or our police and everything. I love the group SPike K9 Fund. So remember that - they're really awesome.

Rennie Gabriel  04:53
Thank you so much. Yeah and most of the people that I work with are aware that I make large donations to Shelter to Soldier. Again, because I love dogs and our soldiers allow us to do what we do here and have the life that we have in the United States. And one of the things, that I think we've already mentioned is that, the work that you do isn't just limited to the parents of children on their way to college. But when should parents or grandparents begin planning for having a debt free college experience?

Denise Thomas  05:27
Well, ideally, I would love it, if parents or grandparents would really just touch base with me when the kids are in middle school.

Rennie Gabriel  05:36
Oh in middle school...

Denise Thomas  05:37
You don't even have to be starting much, but what we haven't been told is that what your children are doing, as their activities in middle school actually has an impact on high school activities, which has an impact on their college acceptances and college scholarships. So for example, when I talk to a parent who's - maybe their son, maybe Johnny has been going to ball practice and playing some type of sport for the community since he was three years old. We've all done it.

Rennie Gabriel  06:11
Yeah.

Denise Thomas  06:12
So in middle school, I'll ask, 'Is Johnny going to play college ball?' Well, the answer is usually, 'I don't know. He's 12.' Right?

Rennie Gabriel  06:24
Yeah.

Denise Thomas  06:25
Well, then the real answer to that question is, No, he's not going to play college ball. Because the vast majority of children who are that spectacular, who the talent is innately there, those are picked out by age eight and nine. I've seen it with my own eyes. It's like watching a tiny Tiger Woods, you just know.

Rennie Gabriel  06:48
Yeah.

Denise Thomas  06:48
You just know. And I'm not saying that the child has to quit what they're doing. No, not at all. But then the next question is, 'Does he love it?' Or is he just showing up because Mom and Dad have been dropping him off at the park twice a week since he was three?

Rennie Gabriel  07:05
Yes.

Denise Thomas  07:07
You know, and it's fine. If it's just what we do -okay, that's fine. But does he love it? Is it his passion, and if it is, now we have something to work with. If not, then allow your child some additional opportunities to find their passion. And I'll give you an example. If Johnny loves playing ball, well then, potentially in high school, he can be a little league coach. He can maybe offer weekend practices or workshops in the summer, or anything - or summer camp, anything to that nature related to that particular activity or sport. And this, this goes for anything, it can be sports, it can be musical instrument, anything like that, it can be - that they love a particular subject in school, well, maybe they tutor other kids or have their own, you know, tutoring course for that particular subject. There's so many things kids can do. But first things first is - my job as a parent, is to give my children opportunities to find their passion.

Rennie Gabriel  08:14
That's perfect. And I realized, when you were talking about that, I thought of my nephew, my wife's nephew, Daniel, who loved baseball, he just couldn't get enough of it. And his dad is the same way. And it turns out, he's now working for the New York Yankees doing statistical work.

Denise Thomas  08:37
That's fantastic. That's exactly what I'm talking about. One of the things that I did for my kids, we didn't have a heck of a lot of money when they were growing up. But you know, as many families, as you get older, you progress throughout the company, or companies that you're working for you move laterally, your income increases.

Rennie Gabriel  08:57
Yes.

Denise Thomas  08:57
And we had gotten to a point where we were at a really good income, you know, good six figures, and doing well - and I was able to send my kids to summer camp. Now, the vast majority of those summer camps were actually free. So keep that in mind. Summer Camp doesn't have to cost a ton of money or not at all. Many opportunities, offer scholarships for families that may have a need. Or maybe they just they have extra places, and they'll offer that to your family. So keep that in mind, you don't have to spend a summer, you know, a bazillion dollars every summer for your kids to go to camps every week.

Rennie Gabriel  09:37
Now, I'm a little bit confused because what I heard was, that when your children were eligible to go to summer camp, you and your husband were earning a good income and could afford it. So I'm guessing you're addressing this to the parents who aren't earning a good income. Is that correct?

Denise Thomas  09:55
Yes, there are opportunities to attend summer camps even without having to pay, or paying a smaller amount. There are scholarships available for many.

Rennie Gabriel  10:03
Okay, now am I assuming correctly that you and your husband would not have qualified for those kinds of scholarships?

Denise Thomas  10:10
Correct, by that time, we were not. By the time my son was, say, 12, you know, 10, 12, 13 years old, we would not have qualified for sending them to camps for free. But there are camps that are free. Churches usually have summer camps that are free. And there's usually some type of a topic that they're covering that entire week. My point is to find different opportunities, different topics for learning, that your kids could learn from - short term, and find out what they really enjoy. For example, one summer, I think my son was probably about 12 years old, he attended five summer camps. Five week-long camps that by the time we got to the last one, and the last one was the one I actually paid money for - and it really wasn't a lot of money - was a camp that was taking place at one of the NASA facilities across the country. I was carpooling with another mom, because it was a distance to drive. So that might be an option for some families, if it's not close. By the time we got to the last day, I picked up my son. We're walking to the car, and I stopped him. I said, 'Son, you've been here all week long, and you really haven't told me much, so I'm asking the question, What did you like or not like about the camp?'

Denise Thomas  11:38
Because to me, for every experience my children have had, I always ask, what did you like? What did you not like? What would you have changed? The same questions should be asked for their first jobs that they have as a teenager.

Rennie Gabriel  11:51
Yeah.

Denise Thomas  11:52
Because the whole point is to figure out what floats their boat and what they're innately good at, etc. So, in asking that question, my son says, 'I like the robots.' But then he paused and he said, 'What I really liked was programming the robots.' Now, granted this was a five-day summer camp, they probably spent half a day on one day, programming robots. And it couldn't have been a heck of a lot, these were kids.

Rennie Gabriel  11:52
Yeah.

Denise Thomas  12:06
But I said, 'Son, I have a degree in computer programming, we can do that.' But had I not asked the question, I would never have known.

Rennie Gabriel  12:36
Exactly.

Denise Thomas  12:37
Had I not given him the opportunity, I would never have known. And here's how this progressed, about two years later, I found a very inexpensive homeschool computer programming class for kids. I purchased it, I taught a bunch of kids in my house, how to program computers. And it really was, I'm telling you, this is out of the box, anybody can do this. There's nothing to it.

Rennie Gabriel  13:06
Terrific. Getting back to the topic of getting kids through college debt free. What are the typical feelings that your prospects experience?

Denise Thomas  13:19
I think the biggest problem that they end up feeling is that they're confused, they're frustrated - there's too much information on the internet. So it makes it very difficult to navigate the high school to college process. And the other feeling is utter disbelief when they get their teens financial aid offer from the College of their choice. At that point in time, you have a high school senior who has put all of his ducks in just a few colleges, and all of his hopes and dreams into that. But yet, suddenly, the college is looking to the parent to find 10s of 1000s of dollars every year to foot the bill.

Rennie Gabriel  14:01
Yes

Denise Thomas  14:02
It doesn't have to be that way.

Rennie Gabriel  14:03
Great. Let me ask this. Is there a valuable free resource that you can offer to the listeners that will support them in continuing to solve this problem?

Denise Thomas  14:16
Absolutely. I have a 12-point checklist for families that they can use before submitting their college applications, admissions applications, and their scholarship applications. Scholarships actually begin as early as kindergarten. So anyone with any age of child can begin applying for scholarships, college scholarships now, and most of these applications are really just a short essay - they want your kids opinion. Now for kindergarten, it's doodling. It's literally drawing on a piece of paper, no big deal. They could win a grand - hey, big deal. But the scholarship judges see things that usually get applications tossed in the trash immediately. So this checklist is what not to do.

Rennie Gabriel  14:59
And that sounds valuable to use way before you're thinking about having the kids go to college.

Denise Thomas  15:06
Absolutely.

Rennie Gabriel  15:07
Okay. Well, let me ask you one more question. What's the one question I should have asked you, that would give great value to our audience? And let me have the answer too.

Denise Thomas  15:18
I think the best question is - what's the best time for families to begin this process? And the best time is now, not only do scholarships begin as early as kindergarten, but there are scholarships for every age group, all the way through doctoral and professional school. So with high school seniors being, you know, having the lion's share of the opportunities, but preparation to win scholarships, and get college acceptances really does begin much earlier. So if you have children or grandchildren in the younger age groups in middle school, and let's have a chat, let's talk about what it really takes to go to college debt free to not have to cosign for student loans, those student loans can be really gigantic.

Rennie Gabriel  16:08
Absolutely.

Denise Thomas  16:08
If you don't play it cards, right. But knowing this information early, really helps a lot. It helped me - both my kids attended college debt free with cash leftover, they won enough free money to total $199,000.

Rennie Gabriel  16:24
Wow. that's a big, you know, hey, 100,000 here, 100,000. There, and sooner or later, you're talking about money,

Denise Thomas  16:32
Real money. Absolutely.

Rennie Gabriel  16:34
Denise, thank you. It's been such a pleasure to have you on the show. This will help our audience. Thank you for being on the Wealth on Any Income Podcast. Any links that our listeners can use - they'll find in the show notes. And thank you so much for being here.

Denise Thomas  16:54
Thank you Rennie

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Here's your opportunity to grow. Think of a family that can benefit by avoiding 1000s of dollars in college debt, and tell them about Denise Thomas. You'll find a link to her checklist in the show notes. 

In the next episode, we'll continue in the third section of the Wealth on Any Income Book, where I cover the balance sheet. You'll see how to construct and look at it. This will tell you where you are now, what assets you have to invest and what assets are not working for you. You'll see how close you are to Complete Financial Choice®.

Listen to the Wealth on Any Income Podcast on your favorite platform and please rate, review and subscribe.

Until next week. be prosperous. Bye bye for now

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