Whether your child is one, 10 or even 15, it’s not too late to start saving for college. There are steps you can take right now to make sure there’s a college fund.
Of course, it’s easier when they’re younger. We started saving for our children when the eldest was five and the youngest was one. The youngest is going to have more in her college fund when she reaches 18. Yet, even now that they’re eight and four, it wouldn’t be impossible to start saving for college.
Put a little away each month
We have started by putting $100 per month per child away. This is a regular debit out of our account on the first of each month. It’s like our rent payment, and it’s a non-negotiable debit.
It’s amazing how quickly this can add up. After a year, that’s $1,200 per child. For the child that was five when we started, that’s $15,600 by the time she turns 18. The youngest will have a little more than $20,000.
That’s not the only savings they have. We put in $1000 each into long-term savings with interests. Each year, we evaluate that savings pot, decide whether to take a risk with a stock and shares pot, and then take the next steps to make sure they have money for college.
This is a great option if you’re having a child and thinking of saving for college right away. It’s also something to do regardless of your child’s age. Honestly, a little is better than nothing.
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Consider a side hustle for saving for college
Are you currently invested in a side hustle? If not, this is something to think about.
For some, a side hustle could be just to put a little extra money in the family pot. If that’s what you need it for, I’m not going to say don’t do it. However, if you don’t need that money, consider using it for your children’s college funds. Put that money directly into a pot that you won’t touch.
The amount you put in there will change. As your side hustle grows, you may decide to put that income elsewhere.
There are all types of side hustles you can do. You could become a Lyft driver, consider using survey sites, or even write at revenue share sites. You’re not going to make money right away with some of them. There are times you’ll only make a small amount of money each month. However, it’s a little extra for that college fund.
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Put money from daycare into savings
You’ve likely been spending money on daycare and after school clubs for your children. Our youngest is moving out of daycare and into school in September. Our plan is to use the money we would have spent on daycare on college savings.
This is between $750 and $1,050 per month, depending on the number of daycare days in the month, that we’d get to save. The plan is to take an average from the past 12 months and put that into the savings accounts. Instead of just for one child, the amount would be split in half for the two of them.
I know this isn’t an option for everyone. Daycare bills are a necessity for a short time and when you get your children into school, it can be a relief to have the money back. However, if you’ve not struggled financially while spending it, consider putting that money into the college savings fund.
Encourage your children to get a part-time job
Okay, I’m not at the point where I can encourage my children to do this. If I was, I’d certainly be sharing my online business skills with them. However, my eight-year-old is showing some signs of being interested in my work, so you never know!
But if you think you’re running out of time to save for college, you’ll want to get your children involved. Of course, this is if they want to go to college. I never recommend pushing anyone into doing something they don’t want to. At 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do and I wished I wasn’t pushed into a degree that has been a waste of my time.
Anyway, back to saving for college. Encourage your children to get part-time jobs where they can put money away for their own college. If they want to make their life at college a lot easier, they’ll be on board with this.
You can also help them with budgeting. Give them a hand in the financial decisions they’re going to need to make. Many teenagers simply don’t understand the value of money because they’ve not had the chance to learn it. Don’t let it be college where they do.
Not all the pressure is on you
As parents, we don’t want our children to get in debt. That’s especially the case if we’ve been in debt ourselves. We know what it can do to mental health. Financial worries can lead to poor schoolwork.
Just stop right there.
While you want to prevent your kids getting into debt, you don’t have to save everything for their college fees. If you have two or more children, it’s even harder to make sure their full college fees are covered. After all, you don’t even know where they want to go to college (or even if that’s something they want to do).
Focus on saving up for the first year or two of tuition. After that, it’s time to cut the apron strings and let your children figure things out. You can help them learn, of course, but don’t put all the pressure on you to make sure the tuition for all four years of college is there.
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What are you doing to start saving for college for your children? When will you get your children involved in their own futures? Share your thoughts in the comments below.