Frenetic Fitness

fre·net·ic /frəˈnetɪk/ done very fast and with a lot of energy, often by someone who is in a hurry.

Archive for the tag “College”

College: It’s always something

Mac Fail

This morning I got a call from the small one, not terribly unusual, she texts or calls quite often. Today she was in a panic that she had fried her Mac desktop. I’m no good at tech support and I’m really no good at Mac tech support. The incident led to a discussion about the very good, very fast, very reliable and very heavy laptop her grandparents gave her for Christmas last  year. It’s so heavy that she’s having difficulty lugging it around campus and she’d like to have a smaller notebook. We aren’t even to her first winter break yet and I can tell we are headed into four years of issues that will require the shuffling of money and reorganization of our payment plan for college. Fortunately I recently attended a day long session about the Arkansas 529 college savings plan also known as The GIFT Plan. Less fortunate is the fact that I have not made the most of that savings option over the years I’ve had the account. I’ve heard stories of parents completely funding their children’s higher education and even having funds left over while taking advantage of being able to deduct their principal deposits to the account off their Arkansas state tax returns. I have not come close to saving that much, but this weekend I learned that I can still take advantage of many of the benefits while saving as she’s still in school.

Four year university study has been the choice of all our kids, the youngest is just beginning her journey. Adults with a bachelor’s degree earn 62% more than peers with a high school diploma. But, if any of them had shown interest in a trade or apprenticeship program, we would have encouraged that too. The beauty of the GIFT Plan is that it will help save for many education options including trade school, community college and traditional university study. There is easy online enrollment.

I’ve done some things right, I’ve used the option of saving through Upromise and shopping through the website when I make purchases online. I wish I would have set up more regular deposits into the account to build principal faster. I also wish I had asked friends and family to make contributions to their future with UGift on birthdays, holidays and special occasions.


For many of them it would have helped with their tax savings while doing something good for us. One of the many benefits of the GIFT Plan is the Arkansas state tax deduction and estate tax advantages.

“If you’re an Arkansas taxpayer, you can deduct up to $5,000 (up to $10,000 for married couples) of your GIFT Plan contributions from your Arkansas adjusted gross income.
You can contribute up to $14,000 (up to $28,000 for married couples) per designated beneficiary each year to your GIFT Plan account without incurring federal gift tax consequences. And you can contribute up to $70,000 per designated beneficiary in a single year (up to $140,000 for married couples) to take advantage of five years’ worth of federal tax-free gifts at one time. Withdrawals used to pay for qualified higher education expenses are free from federal income tax, so more of your savings can go toward paying for college instead of toward taxes.” from the GIFT Plan 

My plan for the next few years is to save as much as I can in my 529 account. I also plan to give every new mom I know an information packet and a check to start an account for their new little bundle of joy.  I’m going to shop through Upromise to get cash back on the purchase of the long-johns the kid needs because it’s colder where she is than it is here at home and then I’ll research laptops through the cash back options on RewardU through Upromise that includes vendors like the Apple Store, HP, and Best Buy.

 I participated in a free educational financial planning workshop sponsored by the Arkansas State Treasury and Arkansas529, but all opinions and recommendations in this post are my own.








I’m sitting in the lobby of an Asheville hotel in the middle of the afternoon sipping red wine that’s been chilled a little too long out of a coffee mug so as not to alarm the hotel staff. The small one is upstairs in our room taking a nap. She was up late last night, spending a good part of it watching the birth of a litter of 11 piglets. How did it come to this?

A couple of years back our family chose Asheville, North Carolina as a vacation destination hoping to take advantage of the hiking and mountain biking opportunities. At the time, the young one was just beginning high school and we took a couple of hours to check out the local college campus to continue giving her ideas about what options she should be looking for in a college home. She didn’t fall in love or even in like with the  UNC-Asheville branch, but she did fall in love with Asheville. A year ago we happened to invite a friend of mine along for a trip to a music festival. The subject of college came up and my friend asked if we had heard of Warren Wilson College near Asheville. I didn’t give it much more thought but the small one started researching and soon, we had a request from her to make a visit back to Asheville in the autumn so she could see the campus in person. Long story short, we’re back in Asheville for our 3rd visit because in 143 days, we will be returning with the small one and her luggage to help her start the next phase of her life, making a home and getting an education in one of the most beautiful settings in the south.


We’re back for a second visit to the school now that they have committed to each other. While she was hanging out, making a few new friends and learning a little more about her future home, I took to the trails. With 25 miles of trail around the 900 acre campus, I had plenty to choose from. I thought I’d go for a run. I felt like I should run. I needed to run. But as my shoes hit the dirt I realized that my head and/or my heart was not in it. My thoughts were racing and I suppose my heart was much heavier than my feet. I found myself watching the flow of the Swannanoa River beside me, trying to find the peace that should be there.


Isn’t that why I love being outside? Normally, that’s where I find my peace. I watched my feet on the dirt and I had to wonder if she would be here in my steps a few months from now, searching for that peace. When classes are overwhelming, when there are roommate issues, when there is boy trouble,  when her heart feels like mine does right now, will she ground herself in this beautiful creation and find what I have often found there? Will she quench her thirst at the spring of mother nature?



I hope she does. I dream she does. And that hope lightens my load. So I start running…

My Wallet Shed a Tear

I have a high school Junior. I have a HS Junior whose grades and test scores are right where they need to be for institutional scholarships at most Arkansas Universities. She would like to go out of state, my wallet and retirement fund would like her to stay put. I hope we’re starting the college search early enough. We did informal tours of a couple of campuses last year. I took her to local colleges whenever we traveled just to give her some perspective on campus size and the college environment in small towns versus big university towns. We  plan to do several more visits before the school year ends. I’d like to have her short list ready by the start of her Senior year. She would like to visit Rhodes, I would like her to visit U of A and Hendrix. Not because I don’t think she should go to Rhodes, but because my wallet sheds a tear when I look at the cost of attendance analysis. It might have wept openly at her mere mention of Notre Dame. Our oldest graduated from U of A after a nine month stint in Belgium where she learned first hand what young adult apathy in a depressed economy looks like. She enjoyed her time in Faytown and I think she feels she got a good education and is now in Grad School. Our middle was there behind her but didn’t form the same bond with the University or the town and came home to UALR after 2  years. I don’t want the youngest to go to a school she isn’t absolutely sure she wants to attend just because it’s a school we can afford or because her siblings went there.

The small one had the chance to spend the night and attend a number of events at a local private university affiliated with a religious institution. I sent her because I know their reputation for having one of the best music programs in the state. But she discovered very quickly, all by herself, that this was not the place for her. I’m glad I made her go on this lengthy visit instead of just a tour. She was able to experience things that she would never have seen or heard had she not spent 18 hours on campus. I’d love for her to have the opportunity for that level of involvement at every school she’s interested in attending but I know that is unlikely.

8th Grade Graduation

8th Grade Graduation was ENOUGH

I’ll continue to pretend it’s my wallet that is crying. Truth be told, I am ready for her journey toward independence to begin. I want her to have the experience of living away from home. I want her to build all those skills that will make her a successful adult. I need her to spread her wings and fly. I’m just not sure how far away from home I can let her fly. Yet.

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