Three steps to start saving for your child’s college
One year your back to school checklist has crayons and safety scissors and the next it has dorm decor and college tuition. If you haven’t been saving all along, those college items will have you seeing stars (or should I say dollar signs?). Trust me, saving all along is the way to go. Sure, it may be difficult to make saving for college a priority (especially when it seems so far away), but if you’re like me and your little one is still in diapers that is precisely the time you should begin.
If you’re child is older and you haven’t started saving yet, do not be concerned. Just reading this article indicates you’re taking your child’s future seriously; it is the first step in the right direction.
The rising costs of college can be intimidating. In fact, it can seem down right insurmountable. However, don’t be deterred. You may be asking yourself, “Where is this extra money supposed to come from?” In order to help answer that question, I have compiled three steps to help you start saving for your child’s college education.
Step One: Get Serious
Finances of any kind are serious business. It’s important to take a good hard (and honest!) look at your current financial well being in order to find areas where you can save money. For example, consider making your own coffee instead of swinging by Starbucks on the way to work. Try asking yourself, “What are my necessities and what are my luxuries?” Again, this will only work if you’re honest.
To add structure to your finances, download these free printable budget worksheets. These worksheets are simple and can be customized to fit your family’s needs.
Step Two: Be Consistent
Once you’ve completed step one by evaluating your financial condition and identifying areas where you can cut back, it is imperative that you be consistent. To help stay on track, consider checking out this downloadable, free savings chart. Each week you can record an action you executed to save your family money. Not only does this freebie hold you accountable, it also allows you to show off your impressive results.
Step Three: Get Your Child Involved
Now that you have got the hang of things and are working hard to consistently save money for your child’s college years, let your child help out. After all, you’re doing this for him or her and it’s important for children to learn the value of a dollar early on. Motivate your child to contribute to his or her college savings by offering to match any contribution. Regularly talk about how fast the account is growing and what the total balance is to positively reinforce good saving practices.
Now that you know how to start saving for your child’s college, you may be wondering how to make the account balance grow faster. One option is to invest the money. There are a host of options for investing your college savings including 529 college savings plans, Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts (ESA), custodial accounts, and prepaid tuition plans. In a follow up article I will share the specifics of each option, but in the meantime, do a little homework and identify the areas where you can save money to help fund your child’s college expenses.
Kelli Bhattacharjee is the owner of Freebie Finding Mom, where she blogs about the best daily freebies, coupons, online bargains and savvy money saving advice. The advice Kelli provides comes from world experience and a financial background. She is passionate about helping consumers save big money and have fun along the way.