By Betty Lochner, Director, Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program
January 15, 2018
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
This week we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Among his many contributions, King taught us about the value of education, how we can be change agents in our lives and the lives of others, and the importance of leaving our own legacy of learning.
There is no better way to be a change agent then to determine the legacy you want to leave for your child by saving in a college savings plan.
Here are some goal-getting tips that will help you get there.
Step 1: Determine your goal.
It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that nearly 80 percent of us never set specific goals for ourselves. How much do you want to save? Do you want to save enough for a trade school, community college, public or private college? Use a college calculator to help you determine a realistic and achievable goal.
Step 2 – Visualize your goal.
Think about what the results will look and feel like when you reach your goal. Put a picture of a college graduate on your home bulletin board, or a collage of careers that interests your child. Look at your board daily.
Step 3: Create your plan and write it down.
Get out a piece of paper and make a plan. State your larger goal e.g. I will save (total amount) for my child’s college education by (specific date) at the top.
Then, decide how you are going to reach the goal and where the milestones are. Will you use payroll deduction, automatic bank withdrawals, or increase your contributions over time? Think it through and determine what else you need to do to complete the plan. Do you need to revise your budget? Can you hold off on buying a new car?
Make sure you write it all down! A study of Harvard graduates showed that the percentage of graduates that accomplished goals that they didn’t write down was close to 5%. A whopping 95% found they were more likely to achieve their goals when they were in writing.
Step 4: Share your goal with others.
Sharing your goal is a powerful motivator. It can also encourage others (e.g. grandparents) to help support you in meeting your goal by making a gift contribution. You’ll be surprised at how many want to help, if you simply ask.
Step 5: Follow your plan.
Putting the plan into action can be challenging, but is definitely worth the effort.
Most of us can get through the first four steps, but having the knowledge of what to do doesn’t change things. Taking action does. Here’s where you do the work you need to do and take the action you need to take.
Another important lesson we learned from Martin Luther King is that there is power in action.
Take your first step today.
About the author:
Betty Lochner is the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 100,000 accounts, with a fund valued at over $2 billion.