Anyone who has ever taken out a student loan knows what a huge impact they have on your finances after graduation and well into your working life. Student loans are one of the largest sources of consumer debt which is an overwhelming thought for someone considering borrowing money for themselves or their college-bound children.
1. Come up with a viable savings plan
The first thing to do is come up with a savings plan. If you only make contributions to a savings plan sporadically, you will certainly have something saved up for your children. But having a plan can help you stay disciplined with your contributions to help keep you on track to meeting your savings goal.
Setting specific goals is key. For example, you could aim to save enough to cover half of your child’s tuition or set a specific dollar amount that you hope to reach. The more specific, the better. It’s often much easier to stay motivated when you’re trying to hit a particular target.
2. Make scheduled automated deposits
Regular contributions to a savings account can be the easiest way to make sure it keeps growing but if money is tight, it’s not always easy to save. One thing that really helps to automate the process. There are a lot of different college savings plans but a good place to start is checking into your state’s 529 college savings plan.
Taking a little from each paycheck and having it automatically deposited into a college savings account can be a great strategy. Start with whatever you can reasonably afford and increase the amount as you can. You’ll likely learn to adjust your spending to compensate so that the amount coming out of your budget begins to feel pretty manageable.
3. Spend less, save more
Everyone knows that spending less is an effective way to save money. Make a budget and figure out where you can save some money. Then, redirect as much of that savings towards meeting your college savings contribution goals you created for yourself in step 1.
4. Work more
Obviously, if you work more, you have more money and you may be more inclined to pick up overtime or stay for a double shift if you know some of that money is going into a college savings account.
If you have a salaried position or just can’t put in any overtime, consider a side hustle. A lot of people have a side hustle these days and there are plenty of websites and apps that make it really easy to find one. Best of all, if you can find one doing something you’re interested in, you might really enjoy it.
5. Be smart with credit card rewards
If you use your credit cards responsibly and don’t carry a large balance month to month, you might be able to take advantage of your credit card rewards. Resist the temptation to get gift cards or travel perks and go for the cash back instead. Then apply this cash back towards the savings goals you’ve established.
While this method alone may not be enough to pay for college, any little bit helps. If you add this to your regular contributions, it can really add up over time.
Start Early and Stick with It
Setting savings goals early is one way to motivate yourself to get started and stick with it. The process can be frustrating because there’s no telling how much tuition costs will rise by the time your child is ready to apply but while you can’t control the rise in tuition or loan interest rates, you can control your own spending habits.
It’s said that raising children is the longest shortest time. The days can be long but the years fly by. That’s why getting started early is essential. The earlier you get started, the better off you’ll be.
Opinions expressed in the attached article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Individual investor’s results will vary. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions. Keep in mind that there is no assurance that any strategy will ultimately be successful or profitable nor protect against a loss. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. Any information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation.
Investors should consider, before investing, whether the investor’s or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers any tax or other benefits that are only available for investment in such state’s 529 college savings plan. Such benefits include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors. As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 plan. There is also a risk that these plans lose money or not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated. Most states offer their own 529 plans before investing. This and other information about 529 plans is available in the issuer’s official statement and should be read carefully before investing. Investors should consult a tax advisor about any state tax consequences of an investment in a 529 plan.