Why I Got Into the Business of Helping Families Save on the Cost of College

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I have spent my entire adult life taking on the challenge of building businesses. It’s part of my genetic code going way back to my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

After building my last business–a very fast-moving commercial barter exchange–for over 25 years, I thought I was finally ready to retire. I had put in more than my share of time at work and it was now time to lay back and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

My barter business allowed me to consult with many hundreds of business owners over the years, showing them creative strategies to improve their bottom line through the miracle of barter.

Airlines, resorts, hotels, cruise lines were among our most active clients back then—trading off their unsold space for advertising and other goods and services.  Over the years, we saved them millions of dollars.  We were also able to improve the bottom lines of over 5000 small business owners in the Chicago area.

A seed was planted about a year before I sold my business that ultimately led me to where I am now—here with My College Planning Team.

About a year before I sold my business, we were starting to get  requests from local business owners to sign up colleges around the country to barter tuition.  Our clients were all quite concerned about rising college costs and were looking for schools that would admit their students without requiring any cash payment for tuition.

I liked the idea. After all, seats in a college classroom are much like empty rooms in a hotel and could be exchanged for the products and services they needed.  Colleges could also benefit from the miracle of barter!  Unfortunately, we were only able to sign up a few universities before a buyer surfaced and purchased our business.

So, off I went into the land of retirement. It didn’t take long to figure out that retirement was not for me.  I didn’t play golf, hated fishing, and had already been traveled to all the places I wanted to visit—thanks to my barter business.

After about 5 years of restlessness, boredom, and watching way too much television, the phone rang.  My friend Jim was on the other end of the line; he asked me if I would join him In his new college funding business.  After he reviewed many of the creative strategies to reduce EFC and increase opportunities for financial aid, I was hooked and jumped in to his new business with a vengeance.  Soon, however, Jim decided to focus his efforts elsewhere and left me to take over the business.

That was three and a half years ago.

After about six months of intense study and doing a few workshops, I knew something very important was missing.  To really maximize savings for my clients, I had to find someone who really understood the admissions process and help our students optimize their scholarships and graduate in four years.  Those things alone could save several thousands of additional dollars for our college families.

Shortly after that I discovered Stephanie Kennedy and we have been together ever since, working very hard together to build My College Planning Team—hoping to soon to make it Chicago’s premier college planning organization.

So here I am again, once again working 60 hours a week to build one more business and loving every minute of it.  This experience has shown me that I was not really meant to retire.

How satisfying it is to be able to play a part in making a difference to  families who are stressed out over this whole crazy process. Though I turned 75 on my last birthday, you and our team are going to have to put up with me for a while longer.  I did promise my wife that I will retire again in about four years which gives me plenty of time to come up with another excuse to keep working.