College Talk

How to get your degree without all the debt.

Article courtesy of Member One Federal Credit Union

American college grads now collectively owe about $1.5 trillion in student loans—and nearly two-thirds of that debt is held by women. While it’s true that more women than men are now attending college, on a student-per-student basis, women are borrowing more than men—and may face a harder time paying that debt off, given the gender wage gap that continues to exist. College can still be a good investment in your future, but the less borrowed the better. Here’s what you, or the college-bound young woman in your life, can do to help minimize student debt. 

Stay open-minded when choosing a college. 

Many families go by “sticker price” when deciding on a school, but that can be a mistake because the published tuition may not be what you’re expected to pay. Some pricy private schools actually have more available aid to offer to qualified, less affluent students. On the other hand, don’t assume that a bigger tuition bill equals a better education. Many state schools today offer quality degree programs comparable to the big names. Apply to a mix of public and private colleges and favor the school that offers you the best financial aid package. And don’t overlook community colleges. Two years at one of the 23 schools in the Virginia community college system can save you tens of thousands in tuition. 

Appeal your financial aid. 

Many families don’t realize that a financial aid offer is potentially negotiable. We’ve all heard that women are less likely than men to negotiate, so here’s a chance to change that. If your preferred college offers you a financial aid package that’s insufficient, let them know that you’d love to enroll but need more help making it affordable. If another school has offered you a better aid package, mention that and ask your dream school whether they’d be able to match it. 

Keep hustling. 

Working through college doesn’t have to be detrimental to grades, and it can actually be an opportunity to gain career-relevant skills for the future. Work-study programs are convenient because they’re on campus and allow student employees to tackle homework during downtime. Co-operative education programs provide structured work experiences where students gain real-world knowledge while getting paid and earning college credit. And don’t forget, college is a great time to tap into your entrepreneurial spirit! Modcloth’s Susan Gregg Koger is one example of a female entrepreneur who got started in her dorm room. 

Make scholarship searching a priority. 

Yes, finding and applying to scholarships takes work—so treat it like a job because it can potentially pay very well. Every dollar you’re awarded in scholarships is potentially one less dollar you’ll have to borrow. Dedicate at least a few hours each week to scholarship applications, and look for opportunities in creative places where you might face less competition. Think community organizations you belong to, your parents’ employers, or even your local bank or credit union. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

Love, Soulmates & Chemistry

Why you are the only one who can write your formula for success.

Written by SUSAN SPARKS 

I wrote something this morning for a media interview and I immediately thought to myself, “Wow, I have to write about this and I have to talk about this, like RIGHT NOW.” So many of us, like me, are serious romantics in life. We think about things like love, soulmates, and chemistry. When I fell in love with my husband at age 21, I was sure that he was my soulmate. In fact I had no doubt. 

So this morning I’m writing up some notes for a media interview and I am being asked to give advice to young adults about avoiding domestic abuse and I write this: This person is not your soulmate if they are making you unhappy. This person is blocking you from meeting your soulmate if they are making you unhappy. 

And I literally stopped writing and thought: Oh my gosh, this is so true! Why did I never see it like this before? 

As young adults, as older adults, at any age, I think we get so caught up in meeting our soulmates that we assume that it is a one-time chance. But I think the point that we may be missing is this: how can they be our soulmates if they are making us miserable? If they are abusing us? If they are changing us into someone else? That really wouldn’t be a soulmate right? In fact, that would be a person taking time up out of your life while you could actually be happy, be living a life free of abuse, and being the person that you were actually meant to be, right? 

So, who is this person that felt like your soulmate? I’ve said many times that abusers seem to have a trait in common, and that is extraordinary charisma. So, there’s no doubt in my mind now that what I felt for my then-husband was a whole lot of chemistry. He was attractive, exciting, and seemed like a great guy! And I felt that chemistry for a long time. Over time, that electric energy went from something that thrilled me in the early years to something that felt like a shock collar in the end. But, the energy never left the situation. I was trapped like a lab rat in an experiment gone wrong. Oh yes, the chemistry. 

And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you are reading this and nodding your head in agreement, right? He was so great, so exciting, so everything. Now he is scary, and larger than life, and you’re probably thinking: this energy is bigger than I am, now what the hell do I do? And you’re right. It most oftentimes is bigger than you are. But that does not mean that you are trapped, it just means that you need help getting out. That’s why the experts are here. That’s why I write what I write. Because you need to know that help is right here in front of you. 

Are you in love with your abuser? Of course, you probably are. I was. We fall in love with people who seem amazing, seem like our soulmates, and we can feel the chemistry from across the room. But then, over time, things change right in front of our eyes and we are in a new situation that we never saw coming. So how could it possibly be our faults? It’s not. Not yours, not mine, it’s just not. But it does help to understand that we are not in love with our soulmates. We are in love with someone who is taking time out of our lives and who is getting in the way of us meeting someone who, one day, we will learn is our actual soulmate and will make us happier than we have ever been before. Ever. 

I know you might not see that today. If someone had told me all this when I was still inside my destructive relationship, I would have felt like slamming a door in their face. In fact, when I left I swore I would never date again. Now, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Because every time I meet a new man I get to decide if he is going to bring me joy, or chemistry, or be someone that I do not want to share my time with. Then I react accordingly, and I stay or I walk away. All my decisions are mine to make now. In every aspect of my life. And you have the right to make those decisions for yourself, too. 

For more information on surviving domestic abuse visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence PLEASE call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at: 1-800-799-7233 or visit for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety. 

Susan Sparks is a twenty year victim and six year survivor of domestic abuse (SODA™). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. She is an expert on YourTang.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org). She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television this year. www.thesoda-pop.com

Treat Varicose Veins This Winter to Ensure Vacation Bliss Next Summer

Article courtesy of Jefferson Surgical Clinic

Frigid winter temperatures promote office daydreams featuring temperate vacation getaways and cocktails at sunset. Although you’re more consumed this time of year with clearing snow-covered sidewalks than strolling white sandy beaches, those bungalow dreams will be a reality before you know it and if you are one of many suffering with spider and varicose veins, now is the optimal time to prepare for swimsuit season. 

Wintertime may just be the right time to consider summertime. Before you are ready to show off your legs on the beach, consider getting those aging veins treated and made more beautiful for the oncoming summer. Allow yourself plenty of time for treatment of your spider veins. 

Varicose veins are enlarged, visible, and sometimes uncomfortable veins typically found in the legs and feet. Varicose veins show noticeable enlargement due to the pressure caused by increased blood flow and prolonged standing and sitting postures. And while you are probably thinking about parkas and not swimsuits this time of year, winter is the ideal season to consider relief from varicose veins. 

Thomas D. Conlee, M.D.

Thomas D. Conlee, M.D., of Jefferson Surgical Clinic is one of the region’s recognized vascular and general surgeons, as well as a local leader on the identification and treatment of varicose veins. “For many of the patients I’ve treated, varicose veins are cosmetic concerns that keep them from showing their legs in public,” said Dr. Conlee. 

Although it is common for patients to address varicose veins later in life, damaged veins can also be controlled and treated at a younger age before they are permitted to develop into a more aggravated situation. Additionally, circumstances that encourage the development of varicose veins include transitional life moments common with younger women, including pregnancy. 

“I find that younger patients put off treating the issue. But with today’s advanced technology, the solution is simple, fast, and effective. There is really no reason to live with spider and varicose veins,” remarked Dr. Conlee. “The relief that our minimally invasive endovenous laser ablation procedure delivers is quick. Patients appreciate the simplicity of the procedure and their speedy recovery.” 

Jefferson Surgical Clinic physicians use the Dornier Laser. The technology is safe and highly effective. Utilizing short, high-energy pulses, the laser quickly seals the vein with minimal discomfort. It’s very gentle to skin and safe for all skin types, including darker skin. 

“I know people hear ‘laser’ and become anxious; however, the technology allows us to perform these complex procedures with only local anesthesia, like Novocaine, and virtually no post-operative recovery time. Endovenous laser ablation greatly reduces swelling, heaviness, and alleviates pain or discomfort you may be experiencing from varicose veins,” said Dr. Conlee. 

The benefits of treating varicose veins, no matter your age, range from physical relief from pain to improved self-esteem. Don’t wait. Treatment is simple, minimally invasive, and best completed in the winter months to allow the proper amount of healing before you swap the winter closet with your spring-summer wardrobe. 

Since opening in 1956, Jefferson Surgical Clinic continues to grow and implement leading-edge technology in every area of practice. We strive to serve the Roanoke Valley by providing accomplished physicians who provide personalized medicine and innovative treatment options by staff that is committed to providing exceptional service. www.jeffersonsurgical.com 

Save Smarter: Get Financially Fit for 2019

Make these four financial resolutions now to start your year off strong. 

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

It’s January and the gyms are full—we hope you’re making good progress on your new year’s wellness resolutions so far. But there’s another type of fitness you should also be focusing on at the start of 2019: your financial fitness. Flex your money muscles for the new year with these goals. 

1. Strengthen your savings. If you don’t currently have an emergency savings fund—or you do but it’s looking a bit scrawny—this needs to be a top priority. Many financial experts recommend stashing three to six months’ worth of necessary expenses in your emergency fund. It’s best to keep this money separate from your checking account. Once you have several thousand saved, consider depositing your emergency funds into a money market account, where you’ll earn more interest without sacrificing instant access to your savings. 

2. Beef up your credit. Many of your long-term financial goals will depend on this, so make sure your credit is in good shape. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) once every 12 months via the federally authorized website annualcreditreport.com, and the start of the new year is a perfect time to do so. Scan your report for discrepancies and signs of identity theft. If your credit isn’t as good as you’d like, take steps to improve it, such as getting your credit card balances below 30 percent of your total available credit. 

3. Burn fat from your budget. Take a close look at your spending and you’ll likely find areas that could use a slim down. Budgeting apps like Mint.com, Goodbudget.com, and Youneedabudget.com make it easy to track spending on your smartphone, or good old-fashioned spreadsheets work just as well. Another trick to try is starting the new year with a month-long cash diet, which means taking out a set amount of cash each week and using it to pay for everything other than monthly bills (no swiping plastic allowed). Just like at the gym, exercising your budget works best when you have a specific goal, so visualize what you’ll do with the extra money you save—whether that’s paying off high-interest debt or treating yourself to a tropical vacation. 

4. Set the pace for retirement. By looking at your current retirement savings and considering how many years you have until your target date, you’ll get an idea of whether you’re running a marathon or a sprint at this point. If your retirement savings are a little behind where they should be, it might be time to start pushing yourself a little harder. Consider your age and risk tolerance when determining how aggressive you’d prefer to be with your retirement accounts, and aim for a good mix of stocks, bonds, and share certificates. It’s always wise to speak with a financial advisor about your specific situation. 

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

Make 2019 Your Best Year!

Plan, create and grow your shining life in 2019!

Discover the original and best goals workbook on the market—used by over 300,000 women worldwide with incredible results! 

Are you ready for 2019 to be your most incredible year yet? What started 10 years ago as a small goals workbook, My Shining Year Life Workbook has become a wildly popular and powerful cult hit— and simply the best planning tool available to help you achieve your personal goals. Revamped and revitalized, the workbook will laser-focus you on exactly what you need to make your dreams come true. 

With proven and actionable guidance, author Leonie Dawson will inspire you to create meaningful, positive relationships and friendships; a healthy, thriving body; creative pursuits to illuminate your soul; financial goals to support you abundantly; and self-care to help you thrive! 

Join the revolution and the tribe of hundreds of thousands of women who use this creative and inspiring workbook to take themselves to their next level of shining success in 2019. For details visit www.leoniedawson.com

The Magic of Tiny Business

You don’t have to ‘go big’ to make a great living. 

Too many of us feel trapped by work that keeps us from living our purpose. We fantasize about stating our own business, yet we’re warned against falling into debt, working eighty hours a week, and coping with the pressure to grow. Eco-Bags Products (maker of our favorite reusable cotton net bags) founder Sharon Rowe says there’s another way: go tiny! 

Like a tiny house, a tiny business is built on maintaining focus on what is essential by living an intentional life. As an entrepreneur and mother, Rowe is most concerned with putting family first, maintaining financial security, and doing something that makes an impact in the world. Using the success story of Eco-Bags Products, Rowe distills the step-by-step process of building a profitable, right-scaled, sustainable venture that doesn’t compromise your values with her new book, The Magic of Tiny Business. She shows you how to test your concept, manage your money and priorities, and more, while staying true to the ‘tiny’ ethos. You don’t have to go big to make a great living. 

Find The Magic of Tiny Business through your favorite bookseller or visit www.sharonrowe.com (and find Eco-Bags at www.ecobags.com).

Planning for the Future

Vector Space takes knowledge & skills beyond the classroom.

“When will I ever use this as an adult?” Sound familiar? Maybe you said it to your own parents years ago. Maybe you’re hearing it echoed from your child now. It’s not an easy question to answer, especially when the devices we carry in our pockets do a lot of our thinking for us.

Students, like their parents, are increasingly relying on cell phones and tablets to discover, create, and enjoy groundbreaking innovations. Unfortunately, even as technology advances, educational opportunities for middle and high school students have struggled to keep up throughout the country. 

In Lynchburg, the folks behind Vector Space are doing their part to change that. Their 8,000 square foot space provides a home for individuals and groups to work with tools and equipment to build a variety of different products from the fields of woodworking, metalworking, textiles, electronics, computers, and prototyping. This spring, their partnership with The Best Buy Foundation will also increase the resources for teenagers who are interested in learning how different subjects, specifically fashion, can merge with technological advances to create promising employment opportunities. 

Beginning in January, ten teens will enroll in a six-week class at Vector Space that will introduce them to hand sewing, machine sewing, soldering, and garment design, as well as electronics and computer programming. Classes will meet two evenings per week in January and February, and will be lead by two instructors, and engineer, and a fashion designer. The program, sponsored by Best Buy, will culminate in a public fashion show at Randolph College on March 24, 2019 at the Lynchburg Mini Maker Faire. 

“Textiles and electronics are really still at the beginning stages of coming together. There is a lot to be explored, a lot of creative ways we can merge these two fields,” says Adam Spontarelli, Director of Education at Vector Space. “This is not just the first fashion and tech class in Lynchburg, it is cutting edge in both industries.”

A goal of this project is to introduce young women to computer programming. It’s hard to believe, but even in 2019, there are less women than men in computer science fields. Both organizations hope to help reduce the barriers for women and emphasize computer science skills for females during their middle and high school years. 

Community support is vital, because every piece of the puzzle matters as young people begin to understand how what they are learning will apply to the real world in just a few short years. With the dedication that students put into their work at Vector Space, the future of fashion, engineering, and computer science is promising—and so is the impact on our region.

“This is our third annual event,” says Elise Spontarelli, Lynchburg Mini Maker Faire Producer. “World Maker Faire added a Fashion Show in 2018, and I am thrilled to have our own fashion feature at Lynchburg Mini Maker Faire.”

For more information on how your child can get involved, and the membership and classes offered at Vector Space, visit www.vector-space.org/fashion.

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Keep the “Happy” in Your Happy Holidays

Savvy Tips for Stress-free Seasonal Spending

Article courtesy of Member One Federal Credit Union

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and for many of us, it’s also the most expensive. We’re here to help with tips for maximizing the festivities while minimizing the financial frustration this holiday season. 

Use credit sensibly. Starting the new year with new debt is enough to make a Scrooge out of anyone. If you’re going to put your seasonal spending on a credit card, you need a plan in place to pay it off quickly. That means setting a shopping limit and sticking to it, as well as budgeting money each month to pay down the balance. Opt for a low-interest card and/or one that offers cash back rewards to get the most bang for your holiday buck. 

Shop securely. Not much can put a stop to your seasonal cheer faster than falling victim to credit card fraud or an online scam. While you’re busily scoring online deals, take a moment to ensure that any website you order from is secure by checking for “https” plus a padlock symbol at the beginning of the site’s URL field. Any device used for online shopping should be protected by up-to-date anti-virus software. Consider using PayPal, or if you choose to shop with a card, make it a credit card instead of a debit card to safeguard your bank accounts. 

Give experiences, not things. Cut the consumerism and the clutter this year by sharing experiences instead of exchanging stuff. Our local community is filled with activities that would make great gifted experiences. Consider giving tickets to a Rail Yard Dawgs hockey game or a Mill Mountain Theatre performance, paying for a YMCA membership, or treating a friend to an art class at the Taubman Museum. 

Volunteer. Stay in the spirit of the season with a group volunteer activity. In lieu of a holiday party, ask friends if they’d be interested in getting together for a cause. It’s less money spent on food, drink, and decorations, but more importantly, it’s a refreshing reminder of the real reasons behind the holidays and a chance to bond with your buddies while doing something meaningful. Volunteermatch.org is a good place to start looking for ideas. 

Save. Get ready for next year with a Christmas club savings account. The holidays will be back upon us sooner than we might imagine—just think how quickly 2018 went by! Starting a dedicated savings account early in 2019 can make next year’s holiday season even easier. With a Christmas club account, you make regular deposits from your paycheck each month, in any amount you choose. Then, you withdraw those funds at a specified date, usually in October, and begin your pre-budgeted holiday shopping. The trick: if you try to withdraw money before the set date, it will cost you a fee. Try keeping your receipts this holiday season to get an idea of how much to budget for 2019.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. 

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