By: George Makras, director of institutional relationship management, Ascensus College Savings
October 2, 2017

Backpacks are packed, supplies are purchased, and pencils are sharpened — school is back in session. Now is a great time to take a look at your monthly finances and find small opportunities to save for a college education. These small amounts can potentially go a long way and you’ll find that you won’t even miss the money!

Many employers have introduced 529s as a voluntary benefit so contributing a small amount to a 529 through an automatic payroll direct deposit is simple and efficient.

Since open enrollment season has begun, it’s also a great time to review all of the employer wellness benefits available to you at work. From retirement and health benefits, to healthy eating and exercise programs, more employers are investing in you!

Employer benefits can help ensure your physical health, emotional health, and financial health. You may even be eligible for various discounts. So take time to explore the various wellness programs today and look for a 529 to make it easy to save for college.

Here are a few examples of ways that you can find extra dollars:
1. Brown bag it: Instead of buying lunch every day, pack and bring your lunch to work. You could save $120 a month.(1)
2. Drop cable for online streaming: You can still watch your favorite shows and movies without maintaining an additional bill. Studies show that doing so could save an average of $65 a month.(2)
3. Lose the landline: Cutting the cord can help you consolidate your contact information and save $45 a month.(3)
4. Be a discount shopper: Waiting for sales, using coupons, and price matching can help you save $40 a month.(4)

Just saving $25 a month can potentially generate $10,062 in college savings.(5) And in 2015, 38% of all borrowers with outstanding student loan debt owed less than $10,000.(6) That’s a great step in the right direction!

You don’t have to dramatically change your spending habits to make a big difference in how you save. Visit the CSPN website to see how you can begin saving for a child’s education.

(1) Based on purchasing lunch 20 times a month at a minimum of $10 per meal versus packing a $4 lunch.
(2) 2017 average cost of cable at $100/month vs. YouTube TV at $35 a month:
(3) Average cost of basic phone service, including local and long distance calls:
(4) Based on using a 20% coupon for a purchase of $200 or greater.
(5) Based on 18 years of saving and a 5% return on investment
(6) As reported by College Board -Trends in Student Aid 2016
The above examples are for illustrative purposes. Costs and savings will vary.