By Betty Lochner
Director, Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET)
August 22, 2013

Summer is winding down. Schools are opening their doors for another year. That means it’s time to grab school supplies to make sure your kids are ready. So how do you pay for school expenses now and still plan ahead for those expenses waiting for you?
Sometimes saving for college can feel overwhelming. Kids are expensive and planning ahead for future college expenses can feel daunting.

Consider this. The average student loan debt is more than $27,000. (i). Saving just a little each month helps drop this average down. Just $5 a day for 10 years will add $19,000 to your savings.

Here are a few more ways to reach your college savings goals.

  • Hang on to your old car a little longer. If you can save $400/month for 6 years (a car payment), you will add $28,800 to your college savings.
  • The average US family spends more than $200/month eating out. Cut that in half over the next 10 years and you could add over $12,000 to your college savings.
  • Go green and SAVE green by carpooling or taking public transit. One tank of gas saved every two weeks could equal more than $1,450/year to put towards college savings (ii)
  • The average US household spends $1226/year on phone services. (iii) Put half of that same amount into a college savings account for 7 years and you will add nearly $5,000.
  • Here’s a coffee “fix.” Brew your own instead of hitting the coffee shop and you could save more than $27,000 in 18 years (by the time your newborn is ready for college). (iv)
  • Watching TV, or watching your kids go off to college? Imagine how far that $100 monthly cable bill could go!

Think about where you can change the priorities in your fall household budget. Even small investments in a college savings plan can add up to a huge savings over time.<

(i) Source: FICO Study cited by Forbes (also, LA Times, Huffington Post and more)
(ii) Source for average WA Gas Price: (also assumes average tank size of 15 gallons)

(iii) Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
(iv)Source: Coffee Savings Calculator

About the Author:

Betty Lochner is director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 145,000 accounts, with a fund valued at over $2 billion. Washington is unique in that their only 529 plan offered is a prepaid tuition plan. Lochner currently serves as Vice Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) and the Co-Chair of the CSPN National Communications Committee.