Nani and I celebrated 36 years of marriage on Tuesday. Four of our children have completed college, and one is in the Army. Last weekend, Christina brought up the three grandchildren and somehow the topic turned to ‘back to school shopping.’ Nani confessed to missing back to school shopping, and there was about half a second before kids were in the car and money was out of the wallet for clothes and supplies. To those of you wondering if I had a vote in this adventure, I might only guess that you have not been a grandfather. In a lot of families, grandfathers have certain traditions and grandmothers another. For instance in our family, grandfathers FILL the wallet and get out of the way; grandmothers empty the wallet. To be forthcoming, my fun is feeding the grandkids ice cream behind their mother’s back. I’ll take what I can get.
This brings us to the topic of saving for college. A topic filled with lots of questions. You bring this little bundle of joy into the world with all the hopes and dreams to ignite a Stanford University bonfire. Yet college seems far off, and the cost of diapers is staggering. Maybe the grandparents will start some kind of fund (see story above to illustrate where grandparents’ money goes). Next, how will you have any notion what lies 18 years ahead? Napa Valley College, UC Berkley, Stanford or perhaps a trade school. You can save into a 529 plan, UTMA Account, life insurance, savings bonds – each with pros and cons. We do know that the cost of any institution will be significantly higher 18 years from now. And as I have yet to hear rave reviews of student debt, let’s assume that is not the best way to go.
Take it from a guy who likes the idea of 31 Flavors (versus my brother-in-law who is a straight vanilla guy): Begin with a plan in mind.
1. Do you want to support your children with savings for their education?
2. How much support do you want to provide? 100% for 4 years? 50%?
3. What level of school are you willing to provide for? Community College, State or UC type of school or private school?
With a few basic questions answered, you can begin to create a plan. You take that critical first step to achieving a goal. You have a plan and a savings vehicle to contribute to. I read recently of ‘Crowd Funding’ for education costs. I am not suggesting Social Media begging, but a strategic plan making it easy for those who want to contribute to do so.
Harvest Financial has a number of tools to help you learn the best way to save without busting the bank. Put us to work building the plan so when High School graduation rolls around, all you have to think about is how proud you are of your little bundle of joy.