With the current cost of attending a public cost averaging for four years at over $100,000 total, the thought of saving is overwhelming.  As of two weeks ago each of my children had enough saved by us to cover a semester of books and maybe two large pizzas to go with it.  It is staggering, overwhelming, and mind numbing to imagine saving for the cost of college.  That said, we have 7 years until our oldest will be heading off to his freshmen year. While we don’t intend on fully funding a private school degree, we would like to cover as much of a four year public degree as possible. So we buckled up and headed in to the financial advisor to face what lies ahead!

I am not a financial advisor, so don’t take my advice as if I were one!  Do you find yourself in a similar situation where you want to save for college at least to cover some costs?  First I would say that anything saved in a 529 is better than having nothing at all.  Most families today won’t be fully funding a college education, but that doesn’t mean that you should just throw in the towel.  If you want to save something, don’t hesitate to do it!

Ways to save:

Automatic monthly withdraws into a 529, even as little as $100 a month adds up to $1,200 and over ten years that is $12,000 which grows and possibly could cover a full year of tuition in a state university.

Lump sums–  Tax return time rolls around, you get a bonus at work, you are gifted money from a relative then pop that lump sum in.

Birthdays and holidays-   I don’t know about you, but my kids need very little, but have a group of relatives still wanting to gift.  Relatives can give directly into 529 accounts to help offset those college costs.  Our daughter’s fund was set up by my family and recently I was able to grow our funds through a relative’s gift.

UPromise runs sort of like Ebates, but that cash back can then be transferred into a 529.   Additionally, you and your family can connect your grocery and drugstore reward cards for cashback.  I have not used this account since my son was a baby, but found $50 sitting in the account from simply connecting grocery cards.  That money can be transferred to our 529 account.

My financial advisor has a great tip!   If you use credit cards, then Fidelity has a card where points can be transferred right into a 529 account for college savings.  This is a great way to save.

I am not saying, I have totally given up on the dream that my children may earn a scholarship… we can all dream!  I was fortunate to leave a public college without loans and I would like to offer my children that if possible too.  So we are starting to focus on this now.  Do you have tips, please share!


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