By Michael Fitzgerald, State Treasurer of Iowa
May 10, 2022
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” mocked Jan Brady of The Brady Brunch as her sister Marcia received continued praise at school. Little did we know how symbolic this quote would become as a response to being jealous. Speaking of jealousy, the Bradys would have only had to pay around $600 a year to send their eldest, Greg, to a four-year university in their state. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Today, the price tag on higher education is much higher than $600, and if your family is anything like the Brady Bunch (give or take a few kids), putting aside money for multiple children may leave you feeling stretched thin.
Have no fear: A 529 plan is here! Unlike the Brady Bunch, you have the option to build an education savings for your children and grandchildren in a 529 plan. Even though education costs have increased, you can save yourself from some of the financial stressors by saving with a 529 plan.
There are numerous reasons a 529 plan will be the best investment you make for your children’s future. Let’s explore a few:
Money for them
When you open a 529 account, you designate funds for a specific child’s future education expenses. This ensures each child has a dedicated savings to support their dreams. Separate accounts make it easy for record-keeping and tax purposes, too!
Because your children have their own accounts, you can customize a different investment portfolio for each. For example, your youngest child may benefit from a more aggressive approach to maximize their earnings, whereas your eldest may need a conservative option to maintain the principal investment. With a 529 account, you can utilize a personalized strategy for each child to reach your savings goals.
More tax savings
Many 529 plans offer state tax benefits for participants. If you save for multiple beneficiaries, you may be eligible to deduct your contributions for each account you own, allowing you to maximize your tax savings. Check with your state’s plan for specific details.
Another great thing about saving for multiple beneficiaries with a 529 plan? You can easily transfer funds if one child decides not to pursue higher education. While you have other options, one of the many benefits of 529 funds is that they can be transferred to a relative of your beneficiary. Meaning, that if one child says “no thank you,” the money you saved can go to a sibling, cousin, or another relative of theirs.
Managing the education funds of multiple children can be difficult, but don’t let that stop you from supporting your children’s dreams and aspirations. As Mike Brady said to Jan when she was complaining, “Nobody has it smooth sailing all the time,” but saving with a 529 plan can make for a calm ride. Start your path to saving today and reap the many benefits a 529 plan offers!
About the Author:
Iowa State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is the past chair of the College Savings Plans Network and the administrator of Iowa’s 529 Education Savings Programs, College Savings Iowa and the IAdvisor 529 Plan, with over $6 billion invested and more than $4.8 billion in qualified withdrawals.