Reawakening Manners and Morality in Men

What is the meaning of the IXOYE inside the Christian Fish symbol?


Have you ever seen those Christian Fish symbols on the backs of peoples cars and wondered what the IXOYE stood for?  Most people believe it is the Greek spelling of Jesus.  They are wrong.  IXOYE actually says “Fish” in Greek.  Seems a little redundant and silly to have the word “fish” inscribed in the symbol of a fish.  There is a deeper meaning behind it however.


IXOYE is an acrostic poem.  Acrostic poems use the first letter of each line to spell out something.  See this Valentine’s Day post if you don’t remember.  Iota is the first letter of Iesous or Ιησους which is the Greek spelling of Jesus.  Chi is the first letter of Christos or Χριστóς which is Greek for Anointed.  Theta is the first letter of Theou or Θεοῦ which is possessive form of the Greek word for God. Upsilon is the first letter of Huios or Υἱός, Greek for Son.  Sigma is the first letter of Soter or Σωτήρ, the Greek word for Savior.



Iota (Ιησους )  – JesusIXOYE inside the Christian Fish symbol
Chi (Χριστóς ) – Christ (Anointed)
Theta (Θεοῦ ) – God’s
Upsilon (Υἱός) – Son
Sigma (Σωτήρ) –  Savior

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior

So there you see the finished acrostic saying not Jesus’ name, but instead the ultimate message of God’s salvation plan for humanity.  And you thought poetry was boring.  Well crafted poetry, like this acrostic gem, can be true works of art.

Distracted Dad

Father ignoring child

I got to go to my first Daddy-Daughter dance last week.  My eldest daughter and I had a wonderful time on our date and dancing the night away.  We ordered what may possibly be the largest ice cream Sunday ever made.  I was not expecting the ‘feed a large family’ size of it.  We had a great time trying to devour it.  We failed.  Overall I had a wonderful time dancing and having fun with my daughter and making her feel special.

While I was at the dance I noticed a lot of disengaged fathers standing on the sidelines playing with their phones, not actively participating in any activities with their daughters.  It made me kind of sad, but one dad takes the cake as my new poster child for disinterested daddy of the year.

This guy was sitting on the side with a freaking laptop. This was not a cute little pocket PC kind of thing, but a full on big sized 17 incher.  His ‘I don’t want to be here’ demeanor was so blatant I actually stopped mid-stride and stared at him for a moment.  Perhaps I’m judging to easily, and he was a member of the elite Air Force Cyber Command and he was single-handedly saving the good old USofA from a legion of evil hackers.  Maybe he was remotely monitoring a sensitive science experiment that would consume the region in a black hole if any of the variables went outside the parameters.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet you dollars to donuts he was playing Angry Birds.

No matter what he was doing, I do know one thing for sure.  Somewhere in that sea of princesses was a sad little girl, wishing her daddy would dance with her.

Don’t be the kind of dad that plays with his phone at the diner table.  The world WILL NOT end if you don’t respond to emails in nanoseconds.  If you don’t look at your children when they are talking to you, you will receive the same treatment from them when they grow into teenagers.  “Yea yea, whatever dad, can’t you see I’m on the phone?”

Would you lay down your life for your daughter?  Of course you would.  Why then, can you not lay down your cell phone, or laptop, or pager, or e-reader for her?

Don’t be the guy who shows up at a daddy-daughter dance with a laptop.

Friday Poetry Roses and Violets Edition


A collection of roses and violets poetry taken from around the web. They range from sweet to sappy. If you need help understanding the last one, find the closest geek and ask them to explain. Write your own roses and violets poetry in the comments below. Wow us with your awe inspiring creativity.


Roses are red
Violets are blue
Nothing in this crazy world
Could keep me from loving you

Roses are red
Violets are blue
These everyday things
Dont compare to you.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I didnt start living,
Until I met you.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Without you my dear wifey,
I dont know what Id do.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
On this day I feel special
I hope you do too

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Love is still fresh
Like the morning dew

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Nothing but death could
Separate me from you

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
Just like you

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I want everyone to know
That I love you!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Fell in love the
Moment I saw you

Roses are red
Violets blue
You love me
And I love you

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Girl how I wish
I could buy both for you

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Come kiss me
And Ill kiss you

Roses are red
Violets are blue
But nothing is as strong
As my love for you

Roses are #ff0000
Violets are #0000ff
All my base
Are belong to you.

Valentines Gift Any Man Can Make In Minutes


Women love poetry.  It speaks to their souls and tells them that we care about them.  While many men will go to their local stores and pick out something cheesy from the Hallmark aisle, you sir will be creating a loving and thoughtful poem from scratch.  I know, many of you claim to not to be poetic, and in truth many of you are not.  We can fix that.

To craft a loving poem with a minimum of effort, thought, or actual poetic ability, we will use a literary form known as an acrostic.  I know, it sounds scary, but it’s really not. There are some famous and infamous acrostics that you’ve probably heard of, like Poe’s Elizabeth poem, or the Governators F*^% You veto letter.  We won’t be doing anything that elaborate.  Here is a simple acrostic example:

Intelligent Lovely Original Valuable Energetic Youthful Outstanding Upbeat

Do you see the hidden message in the first letters of the words? That’s what makes it an acrostic.  It is a constrained writing style where the first letter of each word combines to form another word or phrase.  In the example above, the first letters spell out I LOVE YOU.  It really is that simple.  You try one.  Here’s what you do:

  1. You pick a name or phrase
  2. You pick a bunch of adjectives that begin with the appropriate first letters
  3. You write them down
  4. You give them to your wife
  5. You get rewarded for being such a thoughtful romantic husband

I have some adjectives listed below if you need inspiration or get stuck on a particular letter.  I highly recommend not using X in your phrase if possible because the X-based adjectives are limited.  Once you have your acrostic finished, you need to give it to her, preferably on a card.  You can get as crafty as you want with this step, but no purchasing a card or you’ll lose points.  The simplest is to take a sheet of paper, fold it in half, and cut out a heart.  Write your acrostic on the front, I Love You, Happy Valentines Day on the inside and sign it.  There you go.  You now posses a hand crafted card containing an original poem made by you.  Be prepared for an enthusiastic response from the lady in your life, especially if this is wildly out of character for you.  If you need help making a card, download and print the template below.


Alphabetical Adjectives for Incredible Inspiration and Passionate Poetry

Awesome Angelic Able Athletic Attractiverebecca

Beautiful Bold Blessed Brave Brilliant Buxom

Calm Creative Caring Compassionate Courageous Captivating

Delightful Daring Dependable

Eager Ernest Endearing Enthusiastic Exotic

Faithful Fierce Fantastic Frugal

Gorgeous Great Gracious Grateful Graceful Glamorous

Holy Humble Heroic Helpful Healer Hot

Insightful Innocent Intelligent Interesting Incredible

Just Jolly Joyful Jovial Jaunty

Kind Kissable Kinky Kindred

Loving Leader Luscious Lovely

Maternal Majestic Magnificent

Noble Nice Natural Naughty

Open Original Orderly Organized Optimistic

Quaint Qualified Quick Quiet Quirky

Real Reasonable Reverent Respectfulcatlin

Stellar Stupendous Sensuous Serious Sexy

Trustworthy Tasty Tantalizing Talented Tender

Upright Understanding Ultimate Unique

Valiant Voluptuous Voracious Vigorous Virtuous

Wonderful Wild Wise Warm Witty

Xerotic(dry) Xyloid(wooden) Xylophonic(melodic)

Youthful Yummy

Zany Zesty Zealous

Remembering the Godfather of Fitness – Jack LaLanne (96)

Jack LaLanne

Today we pay homage to the “Godfather Of Fitness” and manly man Jack LaLanne, who died Sunday afternoon at the age of 96.  Not a decrepit 96 either, he was more fit in his 90’s than I was in my 20’s.  Jack aged like a man is meant to, growing stronger and more fit until something finally does him in.  Trees don’t get decrepit, they grow stronger with each passing season until something finally kills them.  That is Jacks legacy.  He was a living example of health, vitality, energy, and fitness up until the very end.  Today we pay homage to a manly life well lived.

Jack was born on September 26th, 1914 in San Fransisco on the lower end of the economic scale.  His rise to fame is a fantastic example of achievement through dedication and hard work.  He was a self professed sugar addict in his teens, but came to a turning point during a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg.  Paul advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat, and vegetarianism.  This lecture so captured Jack’s attention that he went after the lecture to talk to Mr. Bragg for an hour and a half in his dressing room.  Paul told Jack something that would alter the course of his young life, “Jack, you’re a walking garbage can.”

Soon after that meeting Jack began working out in his backyard on a makeshift gym he constructed and joined the Berkley YMCA. He invited firemen and police to come work out with him and began creating a fitness routine from what he learned.  His own daily routine consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.  “It’s a lifestyle, it’s something you do for the rest of your life, “ LaLanne said. “How long are you going to keep breathing?  How long do you keep eating?  You just do it.”

Jack was a pioneer in his field, learning all he could about human anatomy, body building, chiropractic medicine, and weightlifting.  All things that were virtually unheard of in the 1930’s. He once refereed to “Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body” as his first fitness Bible. In 1936 LaLanne opened his first health spa in Oakland, California and dedicated his life to encouraging people to better themselves through exercise and fitness.  Like any manly man, he invented the tools needed to do his trade if they didn’t exist.  In Jacks case, it was the world’s first leg extension machines using pulleys, cables, and a selectable weight set.   Pulley machines using cables and weight selectors are now a standard in every gym in the world.  Thank you Jack.

One final point of fantastic manliness, Jack remained married to the love of his life, Elaine, for 51 years.  That too is a record worth striving for.   His feelings can easily be surmised from this quote, “She’s a super wife and a good friend. To me she is living proof of all that a woman can be!.”  Men take note, that is how to complement your wife.  That quote alone tells you all you need to know about their relationship.  May you strive to live up to that example.

I can only hope that his spiritual well being was as good as his personal health so that I can personally congratulate him on a life well lived in heaven some day.  Given this quote from an interview I believe I’ll get to do so.

Andrew Cohen: And based on your understanding, what is God-realization or enlightenment?
Jack LaLanne: You’re speaking about God? Well, especially being in my profession, if you don’t believe there is a Supreme Being, you’ve got to be psycho—you’d have to be sick! Do you think that man could ever make a calculator like your brain? Do you think that man could ever make a pumping system like your heart? Do you think that man could ever make a filtering system like your kidneys? Do you think that man could ever make a machine that the only way to hurt it is by not using it? I’ve just bought a new Corvette. Now that car, the more I drive it, the quicker it wears out, right? But how about this God-given machine? The only way you hurt it is not to use it. See, when I got enlightenment about all these things I was a young kid about twelve years old. I was in San Francisco, in Golden Gate Park, and we had an old Model-T Ford and I had to get out and crank it, and when it kicked it broke my arm. I had a cast for two months, and when I took that arm out of the cast, do you know what it was? A bone! I cried. I couldn’t believe it. Was that old age? No—inactivity! You see, you don’t get old from age, you get old from inactivity, from not believing in something. So that’s what I’ve said a million times—and you’ve got to believe it—man could have never put together what we have, this human machine.

Now take a look at Jack LaLanne’s feats, honors, quotes, and pioneering firsts below, then take a look at your own life.  If you find yourself feeling a little inadequate, you are not alone.  Go buy one of Jack LaLanne’s many books and begin the process of becoming more than you currently are.  Step one?  Walk to the bookstore to buy your book.

Feats and Honors

“Why did Jesus perform miracles?—to call attention to his profession. Why do I do these incredible feats?—to call attention to my profession!”  ~Jack LaLanne


  • 1954 Age 40: Swam the length of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks… an undisputed world record.
  • 1955 Age 41: Swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in
    San Francisco, CA.
  • 1956 Age 42: Set a world record of 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes on “You Asked for It, a TV Show with Art Baker.
  • 1957 Age 43: Swam the treacherous Golden Gate Channel, towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. This involved fighting the cold, swift ocean currents that made the 1 mile swim a 6 ½ mile test of strength and endurance.
  • 1958 Age 44: Maneuvered a paddleboard 30 miles, 9-½ hours non-stop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore.
  • 1959 Age 45: Completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hours and 22
    minutes. “Happy” is born and The Jack LaLanne Show goes nationwide
  • 1974 Age 60: Swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
  • 1975 Age 61: Swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
  • 1976 Age 62: Commemorating the “Spirit of ‘76”, swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed, shackled and towing 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
  • 1979 Age 65: Towed 65 boats filled with 6,500-pounds of Lousiana Pacific wood pulp while handcuffed and shackled in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan.
  • 1980 Age 66: Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida filled with 77 people for over a mile in less than 1 hour.
  • 1984 Age 70: Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.
  • 1992 Age 78: Academy of Body Building and Fitness Award
  • 1994 Age 80: State of California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1996 Age 82: Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award
  • 1999 Age 85: Spirit of Muscle Beach Award
  • 2002 Age 88: Jack receives his very own star on the Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame
  • 2004 Age 90: Jack celebrates his birthday with a major media blitz in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. ESPN Classic runs a 24 Hour marathon of the original Jack LaLanne Shows
  • 2005 Age 91: Received the Jack Webb Award from the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award, Interglobal’s International Infomercial Award, the Freddie, Medical Media Public Service Award, and he was a Free Spirit honoree at Al Neuharth’s Freedom Fourm.
  • 2007 Age 93: Received the Treasures of Los Angeles Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from Muscle Beach, and the Y.M.C.A. Impact Award.
  • 2008 Age 94: Inducted into the California Hall of Fame, Parker Seminars Award, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities from the Southern California University of Health Sciences, receives the People of Vision Award from the RP International, receives the Heroes Humanity Award, and was inducted into the Gallery of Legends hosted by the World Acrobatics Society.
  • 2009 Age 95: Jack receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry. Jack LaLanne days were observed in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Manly Wisdom from Jack LaLanne

  • Anything in life is possible if you make it happen.
  • Anything in life is possible and you can make it happen.
  • Your waistline is your lifeline.
  • Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
  • Don’t exceed the feed limit.
  • The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow.
  • Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.
  • Better to wear out than rust out
  • People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.
  • First we inspire them, then we perspire them.
  • You eat everyday, you sleep everyday, and your body was made to exercise everyday.
  • Work at living and you don’t have to die tomorrow.
  • I can’t die, it would ruin my image.
  • If man makes it, don’t eat it.
  • Your health account is like your bank account: The more you put in, the more you can take out.
  • It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts.
  • Eat right and you can’t go wrong.

Jack’s Firsts, the hallmarks of a pioneer

“It’s tough to do, but you’ve got to work at living, you know? Most people work at dying, but anybody can die; the easiest thing on this earth is to die. But to live takes guts; it takes energy, vitality, it takes thought. . . . We have so many negative influences out there that are pulling us down. . . . You’ve got to be strong to overcome these adversities . . . that’s why I never stop.” ~Jack LaLanne

  • Opened the first modern health spa
  • The first to have a nationally syndicated exercise show on television
  • The first to have athletes working out with weights
  • The first to have women working out with weights
  • The first to have the elderly working out with weights
  • The first to have a combination Health Food Bar and Gym
  • The first to have a weight loss Instant Breakfast meal replacement drink
  • The first to have a Coed health club
  • The first to combine weight training with nutrition
  • The first to have an edible snack nutrition bar
  • The first to sell vitamins and exercise equipment on television
  • The first to teach scientific body building by changing the program every 2 to 3 weeks
  • The first to encourage the physically challenged to exercise… to work around their disabilities
  • The first to do feats of strength and endurance to emphasize what exercise and nutrition can do for you
  • Developed the first:
    • Leg Extension Machine
    • Weight selector machine
    • Cable/Pulley machines
    • Calf machines
    • Wrist roll machines

What is the Purpose of a Necktie?


At a recent formal event, well formal for the south west anyway, I was asked if neckties have ever served a function other than decoration.  We pondered, postulated, and pontificated for a while and the best we could come up with was that neckties are used to hide buttons.  I was unsatisfied with that answer and decided to do some research.  It turns out neckties have a much longer history than I had imagined, and they have never served a function other than decoration. Neckties are ancient bling, nothing more.  They do have an interesting history, so if you have the time, keep reading.

The modern necktie is said to have originated in Croatia in the early 1600’s as a simple piece of fabric tied about the neck, called a cravat.  This fashion trend was picked up by the Parisians during the thirty years war and delivered to Europe where neck fabrics became all the rage, culminating in those poofy lacy things we see in Victorian art.

The earliest evidence of neckties predates the Thirty Years War by some 1800 years.  China’s first emperor, Shih Huang Ti, was buried in 210 B.C. and he wanted to take his army with him to protect himself in the afterlife.  His advisers convinced him to take life size replicas instead of slaughtering the army, so 7,5000 life size terracotta replicas of the famed Chinese army were created and buried with him.  There are entire legions of officers, archers, horsemen, and soldiers all carved in exquisite detail.  Each figure varies in details like hair, armor, facial expression and weaponry, but one trait is common amongst them; a necktie.  Each warrior is carved with a pieceof cloth tied around his neck.  There is a certain amount of mystery about this, because other historical records make no mention of the Chinese army wearing neckties.  Some historians believe that it is an honor bestowed on his soldiers by Shih Huang Ti, because silk cloths were a great luxury at the time.

Another early example of neckties that predate the ‘modern necktie’ of Croatia can be found on Trajan’s column in Rome.  It’s a decoration celebrating the Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars and was erected in 113 A.D..  There are 2,500 figured carved into this column and include people wearing three different styles of necktie, including one that looks much like the cowboy bandanna worn by early American settlers.

The modern necktie traces it’s history back to the early 1630’s when a large number of Croatian mercenaries came to Paris in support of King Louis XIV and Cardinal Richelieu of Three Musketeers fame.  The french were instantly enamored by their outfits because of the unusual scarves tied about their necks, ranging from coarse material for the common soldier to fine silk for officers.  They called these scarves cravats, though the origin of the word is up for debate.  The most widely held opinion is that it is a corruption of “Croat.”  One thing is certain, the military and courtiers immediately began copying the Croatians style.

Over the next 10 years, cravats spread across Europe and into the English colonies as well.  Cravats styles were limited only be the imagination, including tasseled strings, scarves, bows of ribbon, lace, embroidered linen and ruffled collars.  This trend continued with a variety of style changes including the steinkirk, a loosely wrapped scarf tie worn with dangling ends tucked or pinned to the breast, the stock, a ridged military neck piece worn tight around the neck to increase blood flow to the head, the bandanna, a square cloth tied in the back, and the bolo, a piece of string held closed by a decorative component worn close about the neck.

At the height of their popularity in the early 18th century, there were dozens of acceptable ties worn for high fashion on a variety of materials.  Men from every walk of life and every tier of society included some form of neck covering in their daily dress.  Mr. H. Le Blanc Esq. wrote a book in 1828 titled The Art of Tying the Cravat which included 16 lessons on tying 32 varieties of cravats.  It also contained etiquette like this: “The grossest insult that can be offered to a man is to seize him by the cravat; in this place blood only can wash out the stain upon the honor of either party.”

The necktie as we know it today was introduced during the industrial revolution, and has kept it’s basic three piece tapered construction throughout many style changes.  Modern tie variants include the 4 inch fat tie, the 1 inch skinny tie, the striped Ivy League tie and the bold colors of the corporate power tie. Whether you regard you necktie as the height of fashion, or a small noose, know that it has stood for conformity, individuality, and vanity through the ages, but never functionality.  And remember to never touch another man’s tie.

I leave you with this fantastic quote from famed fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, “If a person steps on your cravat, you are to blame because you were kneeling.”  Ponder that as you don your corporate power tie, punk skinny tie, cowboy bandanna, western bolo tie, or whatever else you choose to wear around your neck.

Good Timber by Douglas Malloch


The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

Get Out of Debt Step 5 – College Funding


This is the fifth installment of our Get Out of Debt series based on Dave Ramsey’s bestselling book, “The Total Money Makeover Workbook.”  If you’ve followed the first 4 steps then you are currently debt free except for your house, have three to six months living expenses in savings, and are investing fifteen percent of your income into various retirement accounts.  You are becoming financially fit and are on the right path toward building wealth.  You have your finances under control and you have a growing sense of security.  This next step is not for everyone.  If you’re children are already out of school, or you have no children and are sure that you won’t have children, then college savings are not a worthwhile goal for you.  If, however, you have children who are younger than college age, or the possibility exists that you might have children in the future, then you will need to implement baby step number five in your financial plans.

Every parent wants their child to have better opportunities than they did growing up, but according to a CBS MarketWatch report, 68% of parents have saved less than $10,000 for their children’s college education, which is not much in terms of standard college costs.  Assuming you have successfully completed steps one through four, then now is the time to begin saving for your children’s college educations.  I’ll stress again, you need to take care of steps one through four first.  When flying on an airplane, the stewardess always tells you to put the air mask on yourself first, in the event of an emergency, before helping your traveling companions, including children.  The reason behind this is simple, if you pass out, your no help to anybody, so take care of yourself before you help others.  This principle holds true to finances as well.  You are no good to anybody if you fund your child’s college prior to paying off your debt or saving for retirement.  Your kid will go to college debt free, but at the expense of you being a wall mart greeter at 75, working to pay for your medicine.  Take care of your own obligations first, then begin putting money aside for college.

So, now that you’re convinced you need to start saving for college, where do you put the money?  College tuition has been averaging about 7% increase a year.  This means savings bonds (5% growth), zero-coupon bonds (6% growth), savings accounts (3% growth), are all bad ideas.  Pre-paid tuition grows at 7%, but most of these are state based and will only pay for in-state schools, though to do break even with the investment.  In today’s economy, it is hardly a guarantee that you can fund 18 years of college investment in a single state without moving, and then convince your child to go to a school in that state.  Face it, you just aren’t that lucky.  So where should it go?

Dave’s number one recommendation is an ESA, or Educational Savings Account, which is sometimes refereed to as an Educational IRA because it grows tax-free when used for higher education.  An ESA allows you to invest $2,000 per child per year.  This works out to $166.67 a month.  You can invest your ESA funds into any mix of funds and change your mix at will, making it a very flexible plan.  If you invest $2000 into an ESA from birth to 18, with a modest 12% growth you will have $126,000 saved for college, tax-free.  That same investment would net $72,000 in one of the pre-paid state tuition plans.  If your child is over 8 when you begin saving, or you have aspirations to send them to a more expensive school, or grad school, then you will need to set aside more money than what an ESA allows.

The second college saving vehicle of choice is the 529 plan.  The are state plans, but most allow you to use the money at any institution of higher learning, across state lines.  There are several kinds of 529, so be sure to get the right kind.  The “life phase” plan allows the administrator control of the money to move it to more conservative investments as the child ages.  These perform poorly (8% growth) because they are extremely conservative.  The “fixed portfolio” plan locks you into your investment until you need the money.  The problem is, if you get into some bad funds, your stuck with them.  The “flexible plan” allows you to move your investments around within certain brands of funds, providing both good growth and flexibility.  You can choose from virtually any mutual fund in the American Funds Group, Vanguard, or Fidelity.  This type of 529 is the only one that Dave Ramsey recommends.

If you don’t have time save for college, then being creative and making concessions are in your future.  Your child does not HAVE to go to a brand name ivy-league school.  Your child does not HAVE to have their own apartment and eat pizza hut every night for diner.  Living on campus and eating at the cafeteria saves around $5,000 per year.  Some employers offer work study programs that include generous tuition assistance.  The various branches of the military and the National Guard will trade a college education for several years of service.  If your child is getting into law, medicine, nursing, or education, the government has a program where they pay for the students education.  In return the student agrees to serve some amount of time in an “under-served area” typically in a rural or inner-city area.  Apply for scholarships, lots of them.  There are over $4 BILLION a year in unclaimed scholarships.  Make finding and applying for scholarships a part time job between your child’s junior and senior year of high school.  One student applied for over a thousand scholarships.  She was turned down for 970 of them, but the 30 that accepted her provided $38,000 toward her education.  Working a high-rejection, high-paying sales job in the summers leading up to college can make a huge difference, if the student is willing to work hard.

The point is, even if you don’t have time to put down a good foundation of savings, if you are motivated, and creative, then sending a child to college debt free is still attainable.  The earlier you start, the easier it is, but it’s never too late.  Think about your student loans and how long it took you to pay them off.  If you want your child to have a different fate, then start saving as soon as you are financially fit enough to do so. Get a copy of Dave’s fantastic book from Amazon with the link below.