As our little ones emerge from being a twinkle in our eyes to a real life child, parents smile at the amount of help they may receive from family and friends. In the beginning this help will bridge gaps in child’s clothing, and diapers and even obtain a babysitter for a needed night out (without baby). However, as time passes we learn that there may be some things we simply did not plan for.
The first cuteness wears off as your child heads to their first day of school. Regardless of whether you chose a private or public school, you will soon learn to worry about future education needs. Will your child choose an in state or out of state school? Will they want a private school? What if they get accepted into someplace like Harvard? Did your child maximize grant and scholarship opportunities…what were the opportunities?
All to soon your toddler is a high school graduate and these questions (and many more) will keep you up at night. Rather than lose sleep (or your house), get your game plan together early. The sooner you begin to put money away for your child’s college, the less you have to worry about.
Upromise- This is a wonderful site for planning and saving for your child’s future college needs. Simply ask grandparents and other family members to link an available credit/debit card to the site. Anytime a registered card shops at any Upromise partner( in store or on-line) a portion of the purchase is saved in the account. The card holders need to do nothing else. You can set the account up to save money for one or more children or yourself.
Gerber- This is a brand that many parents know and trust. They give our children food, life insurance and now a way to help parents save for their child’s education. The Start Smart College Plan can be started for as little as $1 a day. Most of us can squeeze $30 out of even the tightest of budgets. While you are investing the money into the account, there are no worries about falling interest rates.
529- The Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) explains a 529 plan to be: a tax advantaged savings plan designed to encourage savings for future college expenses. These plans are sometimes referred to as “qualified tuition plans” and every state including the District of Columbia sponsors at least one. The plans are broken up into two major categories called Prepaid Tuition and College Savings Plans. You should research which option is best for you as the beneficiary may need to meet eligibility requirements such as residency within a given state.
Savings accounts- With many options for saving for your child’s college education come with fancy names or eligibility requirements, what is often overlooked is the most basic. A simple high yield savings account is a great way to set aside a little extra money here and there to help lessen the burden of college tuition and fees. Check with your local bank or credit union to find a savings account that will suit your purpose. You can even search for on-line savings accounts that may come with a higher than average (or competitive) interest rate.
When we look into our child’s past we see first smiles and first steps. We remember when they made us laugh and made us cry. Sometimes we wonder if things would be different if we had taken a different approach. However, when we look into our child’s future the picture is framed with stars and wishes of success. All to often those dreams are deferred due to the financial cost of achieving higher education. By planning early, we can put the dream of college within their grasp.