Do you want to save money for college so your child is not strapped with debt after 4 years of school? It’s no secret that college costs have skyrocketed over the last decade-and the costs keeps increasing. As a parent, I hate the idea of my child starting her adult life strapped with debt. And although I don’t anticipate being able to pay 100% of college costs, I’d like to help as much as possible. Without too much difficulty and very little sacrifice in your daily life (don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you give up your daily Starbucks fix), I’m going to show you 5 ways you can easily save money for a college education.
- Loose Change
Everyone has at least some loose change sitting in jars or coffee cans or in a drawer. Over time, all of this loose change can really add up to a decent chunk. I keep a large mason jar near the bedside that we empty our pockets into every night. My husband almost exclusively uses cash so over the course of a few days, all of his pocket change can add up to be several dollars worth. When I pay for something in cash, I rarely give the cashier any coins. Whatever coins I do get, I add them to the jar every week or so. Once we have a jar or two filled, I bring it to the bank to sort and count, then deposit the entire amount into the separate college savings account we have. Saving our pocket change is so simple and we don’t notice the savings out of our ‘regular’ money at all. Savings=$300-500 per year
2. Found Money or Windfalls
Found money is any money you weren’t expecting to receive. Some might call it a windfall. For example, I recently received a $20 refund for a medical copay that I had somehow paid twice in 2015. That $20 had long since been deducted from my checking account and I would hardly notice if I deposited it back in. So, $20 added to the college savings. Most families receive one or two of these small windfalls per year whether it’s a medical overpayment, refund from a cellphone or whatever. These windfalls are not significant enough to change your life but if you’ve ever been a broke college student, $20 is huge. Savings=$50 to $100 per year
3. Birthday and holiday gifts
In my family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and far away relatives love to give gifts of cash in addition to several toys. All this cash goes straight into the college account. I have older relatives who still love to add $5 to Valentine’s Day cards. And if you’re reading this before your little one is born, consider saving some or all of the money received from your baby shower!
I’ve expanded this savings tactic to all money I receive for Christmas and my own birthday. I really do not need any more clothes or to purchase one more thing on Amazon. Savings=$100 per year
4. Fewer Gifts
Another ideas is to give your child one less gift each holiday and birthday, and instead transfer $25 to the college savings account. Most kids have way too much ‘stuff’ that they don’t play with and all that just takes up space. Your child will never miss the toy you didn’t buy for them but they will sure thank you when they’re able to attend their favorite school because you were able to pitch in to pay for college. Savings=$50-100 per year
5. Family members
If you have a 529 college savings plan, many allow more than one person to make contributions without having to sacrifice access or control. Family members can make single deposits or recurring deposits directly from their own checking accounts to your child’s college savings account. Most even provide little deposit slips or other paperwork that you can hand out. It’s great when savings can be so simple! Though this hasn’t been a tool I’ve used so far, it does seem like a great, easy way to encourage relatives to help out. Again, this is usually something grandparents love to spend their money on. Check out Upromise to get started.
Without too much effort at all, it can be pretty easy to save $1,000 every year for college painlessly. If you start at birth, (or before!), you can save a good chunk of money. Even if you have to split the money among multiple children, I’m sure they will be thankful for every bit you can contribute. And don’t forget, saving doesn’t have to end at high school graduation-you can keep saving using these methods while your child(ren) are in college and after and put the savings toward any minimal loans they may have needed.
Do you have any other unique ways to save for college, or even other large purchases? Please comment below!!