Preschool Graduation = Financial Wakeup Call

Yes, that’s my snaggle-toothed preschooler…. oblivious to the whole ‘graduation’ thing (he only took the Imagepicture because I bribed him). And as proud as I was, part of me didn’t want to take that picture either. I only have a few of these graduations to go before he’ll be going off to college and I’M NOT READY!

It was my intention to start a college fund when I found out I was pregnant — then by his first birthday – then … I blinked once – maybe twice – and he graduated preschool on me with the honor (or dishonor) of his parents still not having started a college fund.

Oh, I started the research and got lost somewhere between “what’s the best 529 plan?” and “what if my child gets a scholarship?” and “this is a recession – I don’t have money to SAVE!”

Fast forward a few years and my children have grown exponentially more than my bank account, but this I know …
– I want my children to have the opportunity to go to college
– I don’t want my children to get stuck in college loan hell
– The cost of college for my kids will more than triple by the time they graduate from high school

Seeing my oldest in that cap and gown was my wake up call. I went back to the drawing board and came up with this …

What is the best plan?
There is a plan in almost every state and you can choose whichever one you want – no matter what state you live in! If you take stock in Clark Howard’s advice, you should check out his list of top 529s (Georgia made the Dean’s List!)  But many reputable financial sources have the same kind of list. I suggest you start by investigating what your state has to offer – it may be more advantageous for you when tax time comes around.

What if my child gets a scholarship?
The 529 plans are flexible! The money can be used for things the scholarship may not cover like books, room and board, school fees. You can even pass the funds to another sibling, relative or even yourself! Learn more by visiting  savingforcollege.com.

Honestly, I called the Georgia Path 2 College 529 to ask a couple more questions. There was no wait time, no sales pitch, and the rep was extremely helpful! So when in doubt, just call!

I don’t have the extra money to save for my kids’ college!
Unfortunately, this issue isn’t going to go away – but your growing advantage of a compound interest will.

Here’s the rub – some of us aren’t even saving for own retirement – much less our child’s college education. Let this be the reason why you start planning to do both. Look at examples of compound interest – just makes you wanna slap your mamma if you (like myself) haven’t been investing since you were in your 20s. Although you may not think so, you have money to save right now. But it may mean not having money to do something else… like eating out. All I can say is that the power of making and sticking to a budget will change your life… seriously!

Get started… no matter how much or how little! Start small, even if you save $20 a month (which is not too far off from where I started). Remember when your grandmother would give you $10 here and there? It wasn’t much but it helped out a little!

Don’t be intimidated by the process. It literally takes minutes to sign up online. Sure, you have to decide which investment vehicle you want to start with, but don’t let that deter you. You can change it later if you want.

I can’t promise that my husband and I will save up enough to pay for eight years (I have two children) of college tuition – which could possible by $800,000! We’ll do our best. Meanwhile, I’ll be out on the soccer, basketball, football fields yelling ruthlessly along with the other parents –  hoping my kids train hard enough to get scholarships!

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