Nicolette Johnston
Public Information Officer for the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office
February 15, 2016

One can dream, right? We all have dreams of what we want to be when we grow up. Whether our kids dream of becoming the President or the next high-tech entrepreneur, we should start saving for their future well before those dreams come close to reality.

In a dusty box in my attic is a drawing from kindergarten of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I drew a Disneyland employee—that was my dream. While kids’ dreams change from day to day, sometimes our dreams do become reality – guess where I ended up working during college –  Disney World! I spent a summer through the Disney College Program serving Dole Whip in Adventureland! Hey, sometimes when you know… you know.IMG_0028

So, we should never crush the dream of a child and tell them they can’t. We should encourage, and what better way to show our support than by saving for their future.

Though my parents didn’t save for higher education, I don’t fault them for it. I think they were like many other parents who thought the costs would work themselves out, or hoped I would go to a local more economical school. But I set higher expectations for myself. I wanted the true experience of living on-campus in a new setting out of state. With that came the harsh reality of out-of-state tuition, room and board.

I had a few scholarships which just barely covered books for the first semester. The only other financial aid was federal loans and work-study. In my sophomore year, I could no longer make ends meet with two work-study jobs and an additional part-time job. I took another loan t to cover the previous semester’s balance just so I could re-enroll. But the following semester, I was too far behind. It was like living at the Hyatt on a McDonald’s salary. I couldn’t keep up. It was time to take drastic measures, like taking reduced credits for the year so I could earn residency and work towards a more reasonable tuition rate.

As college savings professionals, our job is to get the right word out to families about the different ways they can save. The State of Nevada uses Sage, the College Saving Desert Tortoise, as its mascot to help get the message out to young children and parents about the importance of a college education and why saving is key. We work hard to meet families at libraries and zoos and parent information nights because at the impressionable age when our children dream of becoming the next President (or Disneyland employee), families need to start saving to help make their dreams a reality.  Meet Sage.

About the Author

Nicolette Johnston is the Public Information Officer for the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office that offers several college savings plans to help families save for future college expenses. She is the former lifestyle blogger of Simply Colette and the winner of the HomeAway BlogAway Contest for the Royal Wedding. Nicolette is a proud college saver with a 529 plan for her 2-year-old daughter, Allison.