In this episode, Shellee and Matt discuss:

  • The best time for families to start planning financially for college
  • The power of having college finances conversations with your teen 
  • Understanding college ROI
  • The book “Empty Nest Full Pockets” by Matt


Key Takeaways: 

  • The sooner you begin the college application process and educate yourself, the better your investment accounts are likely to grow during those years which can help you pay for your child’s college and graduate debt-free.
  • Knowledge is power. Making smart financial decisions when looking for colleges begins with a clear understanding of the net cost of college and how financial aid works, and this can be achieved by having the college money talk with your teen.
  • A college education is a huge investment regardless of your financial situation, so try a pre-approval plan to determine whether your family’s investment in a degree or a college may yield a return on investment.
  • Many parents are so focused on getting their children ready that they forget that they still have a life to live here. Make sure that you balance being involved in your children’s lives with helping them become more independent, confident, and goal-oriented by preparing them financially, especially for paying for a part-time job and all the adulting stuff they have not done yet financially.


“We can figure out the money, we can figure out how to get things to work financially. We might have to make some tough decisions, but it can be done. There’s no reason to just throw up your hands and let them go to a school that’s going to bankrupt the whole family – it’s a time to really dig in and engage. You don’t have to necessarily be the leader of the process, but you need to be a mentor and be part of it.”  —  Matt Meline



About Matt Meline: Matt is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PrairieFire and husband to the Operations Manager, Lisa Meline.

Matt founded PrairieFire in 2019 on the belief that financial planning and unbiased advice can only come from an independent, conflict-free team. Matt has dedicated his career to being a trusted resource, coach, and partner for clients and friends, securing proactively defending his clients’ interests every day as his daily goal.

In the midst of a period of transition in his life, Matt completed a unique program designed to rediscover core values and shift the planning focus from just the money to the life of the clients. This is the way he aims to improve both returns on investments and returns on life. With a specialty in helping families prepare for children leaving the nest, building an exciting empty nest lifestyle, and making the most of retirement, PFW excels at helping families achieve their financial goals in the second half of their lives.

Matt loves the community of Des Moines. He attended Lincoln High School on Des Moines’ south side after moving here from Omaha during his high school years. Following his graduation from the University of Northern Iowa, he worked primarily as a senior manager for various banking organizations throughout the Midwest. In the mid-1990s, he decided to leave the security of that job and pursue a full-time career as a financial planner.

As parents of four children who are currently living their dream lives in Chicago, Denver, Rhode Island, and Ames, Iowa, Matt, along with his wife Lisa, knows a lot about the teen years and college preparation for kids.



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Show notes by Podcastologist: Angelica Rayco.


Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.

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