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Back to School Already?!

August 01, 2017

When I was a kid, back with chalk and blackboards, school started AFTER Labor Day. August was still vacation, but alas, here we are with school starting soon.  I am writing this in mid-July and seeing plenty of back to school sales.  Luckily, Nani and I are past buying pens and pencils or tablets, and our children (fingers crossed) are done with education; though Nani often finds something for our granddaughter, Molly, who starts kindergarten this fall.

School is the place where education ‘can’ occur. Let’s not confuse the two: school and education.  I have always felt that it takes three elements working together: the student, the parents and the teacher to make education work.

School may raise the issue of saving for college, which we often force from our minds as costs mount faster than savings. Here are a couple of thoughts.

  1. 529 Plans – These plans were designed for accredited schools and have some great automated features as well as tax benefits.
  2. - Looking for Private scholarships, start here to find ALL that is available.
  3. UTMA/UGMA accounts – This type of account was used before 529 plans came about and have some tax benefits, but also are more flexible in terms of what the money can be used for.
  4. A Bond for your birthday – Parents and grandparents find it simple to give a bond that might mature close to the time the child goes off to college. This can be a great, less risky tool for saving IF you remember where they are stashed when the time comes.
  5. Other savings methods – Come in and we’ll talk about other ways to save. For example, life insurance can provide an excellent saving vehicle.

I believe the greatest ‘savings’ for your children is to spend time with them in their education.

  1. Dinner conversations – We used to ask each child to share one thing they learned at school that day as we all had dinner.
  2. Attend field trips – This allows you to share time with your child, meet their friends, and who knows, you may learn something too.
  3. Create Field trips – Do you know how many historical plaques we all pass as we drive? Maybe on vacation stop at one and see what you can learn. California schools often talk about California history in the 4th grade and ask the students to do a Mission Project, based on California Missions. This could be another great stop and stretch the legs as you drive to Disneyland.
  4. Help with homework – OK, this one is not so much fun and it can be a challenge with advanced math. Parents, you can be a great example of modeling how to learn. You might use the words; ‘I don’t know but let’s look in the book / ask the teacher / Google it.’ You’re working side by side and setting a great example.

Enjoy the last bit of summer and give us a call to discuss your plan for saving for education!