Saving for college isn't easy, but the earlier you start the better off you'll be. For example if you save $60 a month for 17 years earning 8% per year, you will have over $25,000 by the time college begins!1
There are several savings and investment strategies that can help you accrue money for college.
Below are some savings ideas that my help you better prepare for the task of funding your children's college educations.
1. Assess your needs. In order to know how much to save, you need to estimate the future cost of tuition at public and private institutions. With education cost rising an average of over 6% a year for four-year institutions you must save with inflation in mind.
2. Save early and often. The sooner you begin to set aside funds for college, the less you will have to save. Using a 529 or Coverdell ESA will allow your investments to grow tax free. Allowing your investments time to grow along with your child will give you the most saving advantage by the time they are able to start college.
3. Set up a systematic savings plan. Try to save monthly or quarterly, just as you would if you were paying off a car or a mortgage.2
4. Keep a separate college account. While the 529 plan has become more popular than custodial accounts in the past decade, the custodial accounts have their purpose. These accounts ease the tax burden by allowing parents to shift some of their assets to the child at the child's lower tax rate.
5. Involve the family. Children are more aware of family finances and accept responsibility when they are involved. It also becomes easier for you if the child is able to contribute to the fund.
Create an incentive program with your child. Offer to match the money the child makes to his own account. Teach him or her to work and help contribute to their fund - they will value their education more.
While your strategy for planning and saving for college may look different from another's, it is important to start now. Starting now by intentionally planning for college can take a large burden off your shoulders in the future.
Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.