By Jodi Golden
Director of the Indiana Education Savings Authority<
November 22, 2013
In today’s hustle and bustle of life, it seems more and more families are having a harder time saving for their most valuable expense of all, a college education . For families with children it seems like there’s another expense around every corner, from trendy new clothes to the newest video game to the never ending list of sports equipment, games and travel. With these expenses and a plethora of others, I find families question how anyone can expect them to put away enough money to cover the cost of a future post-secondary education?
Well fear not! Little by little your savings add up. Every dollar you DO save, is one less dollar your child may have to borrow later, and trust me, it’s much cheaper to save now, than borrow later!
Below you will find a number of money-saving tips that any family can use to cut expenses. By instituting just a few of these ideas every month, you will be surprised to see how much extra money you will have to put into your tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan! Are you ready to start saving? Here’s how!
1. Cut the Coffee
Think about it.. you’re probably spending at least $5 for each drink you purchase from your gourmet coffee shop of choice. Use your home coffee pot or try a new morning beverage once a week for a month and you’ll have at least $20-$25 that you can now place in that 529 account!
2. Who needs cable these days?
Cable television can be really expensive depending upon the package, provider and number of channels you have. With so many networks placing their shows online, try cutting your cable package to internet only…even if it’s just for a period of time. You’ll save more than you probably think!
3. Generic doesn’t equal tasteless
We might enjoy the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or the gourmet deli meats and cheeses.. but don’t knock buying generic until you try it. Most stores sell an off brand equivalent that doesn’t always leave you hungry for flavor. And at the very least, buy generic soaps, cleaners and paper towels. It’s worth it in the long run.
4. Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure
Purging your gently “stuff” is always good! And having people BUY that stuff is even better! Look through those closets, drawers and storage rooms. We all have items that we don’t wear or use enough and could be a treasure for someone else, especially at a discounted price! It’s a win-win.. a product for them at a great price and money for your 529!
5. Exercise your cost savings
Sure, going to the fancy health club may be a nice perk, but when It comes to saving money.. it’s got to go! Call a friend and go for a walk or a jog in your neighborhood. Dust off the old bicycle and hit the road. Worst case, pull out the laptop and Google a workout video of choice.. the internet is full of crossfit, yoga, pilates, ultimate Frisbee, aerobic or you name it, videos! Save that $50 bucks a month for your 529 and spend more quality time exercising with family and friends!
6. Don’t dismiss the bus!
With gas prices near or at $4/gallon depending upon the day or the hour, who wants to pay that to fill up? No one!
Hit the pavement and walk wherever possible. It’s good for your body.. and its FREE! If it’s across town, public transportation is cheap and reliable and goes everywhere! Your taxes help pay for it..so use it!
7. Pack that lunch!
Going out to eat is fun. We know this. Especially those of us who aren’t blessed with cooking skills. But.. let’s be honest.. it’s expensive. Pack your lunch for a week or two and watch your savings add up! Bring in those leftovers or go back to your elementary days and make the infamous PB & J sandwich. You’ll thank yourself later! And so will your 529!
8. Having fun doesn’t have to cost money!
Movie tickets, professional sports games, celebrity concerts.. all fun forms of entertainment, but also expensive forms of entertainment. Check out your local city guide, there are LOTS of fun activities for you and the family to enjoy that DON’T cost money. Spend an afternoon at your nearest library, visit your local museums, or go to community and civic concerts and events. There are lots of ways to have fun that don’t necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg. Try them!
So, do you have to try all of these, every month? No.. but try a couple of them and see how it goes. They’re easy to do and you might just be surprised at how much fun you might have, saving money and spending more time with the family. Trust me, your child’s degree will be worth it!
To learn more about saving through a 529 college savings plan visit www.CollegeSavings.org
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