Find Your Financial Safety School

martinis and your money

Find Your Financial Safety School

On this episode of Martinis and Your Money, I’m talking to Melissa Sotudeh, a financial planner with Halpern Financial, about her latest book, Find Your Financial Safety School. Melissa is the mother of a college grad and a Vanderbilt freshman so she knows what it takes to prepare for college – both as the person paying and as the parent raising students to be ready for college. Her book will help you select a school that is more appropriate for your student, understand the true cost of college education, and how to lower those costs.

As a side note: the first Financial Gym location has opened in New York City at 226 5th Avenue, 5th Floor. Please stop by and have a drink with us if you are in the area or check out The Financial Gym online for its tools and resources to help you break free from your financial challenges and live a financially healthier life! We’ll kick your assets into shape!

What are we drinking?

Melissa — Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka

Shannon — Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka with Club Soda

Podcast Notes

  • After her son started college 5 years ago, Melissa partnered with a private college counselor to talk with families about the college testing and application process as well as the financial aspect of it.
  • College financial aid does not adjust for higher costs of living based on your geographical location.
  • The cost of college 20-30 years ago was like buying a car. Now, it is like buying a house.
  • Shannon says the financial commitment of a college education is so extreme that the decision to actually attend college needs to be considered very carefully.
  • Melissa advises families to begin discussing the financial aspects of college with their children around 10th or 11th
  • If you are a student or a parent of a student who could attend an ivy league school, considering the return on investment by attending that school is extremely important as other schools likely would pay for your child to attend there.
  • Melissa learned that during the application process there are a lot of non-binding, early deadlines that, if met, add the applicant into a merit-based pool for financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
  • Always take every opportunity available because you never know what could come from it!
  • Melissa’s ebook has a choose-your-own-adventure structure, comes with a lot of helpful resources, and is available for FREE!
  • TAKEAWAY: Start talking about the college process early and often with your future college students so they do not accumulate unnecessary student loan debt and so you don’t have to delay your retirement goals!

Random Three Questions

  1. What is your favorite show to binge-watch?
  2. Are you an appetizer or a dessert person?
  3. What is your favorite family vacation you’ve been on?

Connect with Melissa:

Free ebook

Do you think that parents should pay for college or should kids take out student loan debt? Did you attend a financial safety school or a financial reach school?

Previous articleThe Happy Lawyer Project
Next articleHoliday Traditions or Lack Thereof – Happy Hour Style
Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.


  1. Education now is very expensive and every parent should prepare for it for years and take into considerations the wants/needs of his kid and budget saved, as transfer from one school to another is to be avoided as it adds up to the cost.

  2. There are really many scholarships available, and students need to take time to apply for one. Even though it’s not a full scholarship, it’s still good than nothing.

Leave a Reply