Like many parents, your dreams for your child likely include going to college. As much as you want them to grow up and become independent, it may be difficult to think about your children leaving ‘the nest.’ But the day will eventually come when you must let your little one go out into the world on his or her own. As hard as it may seem for you emotionally, it might be equally as hard for you financially if you do not have a college savings plan.
Here are some ways that you can start saving money now for your child’s college:
Open a 529 Account
Every state has its own 529 plan. As long as they’re used for a higher education, these plans will not be taxed by the federal government when you choose to take the money out. Another upside to this plan is that you can often start an account with just $25. You do, however, have to keep up with the annual fees and operating costs.
529 savings can be used at any accredited college or university in the country. And for many, the best part is – you will always stay in control of the money.
Get into a Saving Habit
This can be as easy as logging your spending habits for a month to see where you can make some cut backs. You can also set aside money in your savings as soon as you get your paycheck, that way you save a little before you have the chance to blow it all on the “essentials” or spend it impulsively.
Another thing you can do is take whatever unexpected bonuses, cash gifts, or tax rebates you may receive and put these monies straight into your child’s college saving account.
Get Your Child Involved
It’s never too early to start teaching your child about financial responsibility. Instead of planning to write a check on the way to their dorm room, how about getting them involved in saving? Even the youngest child can begin to understand the value of hard work and helping out with family responsibilities. When they’re old enough, they can begin saving money from household chores or gifts. Once they can get a part-time job, encourage them to divide their earnings into ‘buckets’ for saving and spending.
Help them set up a budget for spending on things they need or want right now. Then work with them to determine what portion of their earnings they can set aside for college savings, and possibly another percentage for something they’d enjoy doing or buying in the near future. And never underestimate the power of talking to them early about the value of higher education and savings.
Invest in Prepaid Tuition Plans
These plans vary by state and each one has their pros and cons. In Texas, the Texas Tuition Promise Fund requires the account holder must purchase tuition units (or semester hours) and these units must be paid in full before redeeming it.
The units and required fees can only be used at Texas public colleges and universities, so this is a limiting option if you would prefer your child to attend college out of state. The upside is that these units will not be affected by market fluctuations and will always retain their value.
Consider Custodial Accounts
With a custodial account, you can decide how much to money to put in, how it will be invested, and when to take the money out of the account. However, because the account is under your child’s name, this control must be given up to the child once he turns 18.
The Coverdell Education Savings Account is one type of custodial account that’s specifically for a child’s college education. The con to this account is that you can only put in a maximum of $2,000 per year.
At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we believe that it’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s future. Our teachers recognize the importance of building a foundation of learning that will stick with each child throughout their formative years and as they carry on to higher grades. One of the best ways that you can prepare for their future is by saving money for their college education so that they continue their learning experience as young adults.