By Brittany Leona Parks, Writer, my529, Utah’s Education Savings Plan

March 5, 2024

Educating children early and often about financial concepts develops saving habits for their first major purchases—a car, higher education, and future housing expenses. One of the best ways for children of all ages to save is to become a mindful consumer.

When children are young, you can invite them to hold the grocery shopping list and categorize which items are wants versus needs. Discuss ads to help them discover what they should prioritize from among the bombardment of suggestions. Finally, have them rank their wish lists to identify comparable value among their items and avoid impulse purchases

Once children begin earning money, work with them to make a budget and consider what they hope to buy over the next few months and years. They may see that saving for one item may require postponing another. Note these competing purchases and help them organize their list into short-term and long-term goals. This approach demonstrates that saving for important, expensive items starts with small amounts over time, alongside their other short-term savings goals. 

To support achieving their long-term goals, encourage them to make small regular deposits in a 529 account. “A low- and moderate-income child with school savings of $1 to $499 … is about four times more likely to graduate from college.”* They may be more likely to accomplish their career goals if they have already financially invested in them, whether college, technical college, or Registered Apprenticeships.

As they approach high school graduation, they could also begin to invest in an emergency fund for unanticipated future needs. A car repair or job loss could cost them in credit card interest if they haven’t designated savings for life’s many unknowns.  

Equipping and nurturing the young people in your life with saving habits will allow them to strengthen their financial skills now to focus on achieving their short-term and long-term goals later.

my529 is Utah’s official and only 529 education savings plan and has been helping families save for college for over 25 years. Learn more at

*Elliott, William. (2014). Assets and Education Initiative. 2013. Building Expectations, Delivering Results: Asset-Based Financial Aid and the Future of Higher Education. Biannual Report on the Assets and Education Field, July.

About the Author

Brittany Leona Parks is a writer for my529, Utah’s educational savings plan. When not researching financial best practices for children, she is trying these strategies out on her own two kids, hiking with her family, and participating in entirely too many book clubs. She previously spent 8 years marketing to the financial and legal sectors.