By John Perdue, West Virginia State Treasurer
College Savings Plans Network Executive Board Member
As a parent, I know how proud I am to see my children reach important milestones in life, like graduations. As a state treasurer, I also know how important it is to keep planning and saving for my children’s next milestone.
With the school year coming to a close, many of you may be experiencing this sense of pride and excitement as your little one graduates from pre-school, high school or college. With graduation comes parties and celebrations, and from there, summer fun takes center stage.
We all know how family vacations, trips to the community pool, cook-outs, and multiple trips to the theatre for the latest summer blockbuster can take a toll on your wallet. That’s why you have to make a conscious effort to keep your savings plan on track. Here are some saving strategies to consider for each stage of your child’s life.
- If you have a child graduating from pre-school, high school or college, your expenses are about to change. When a student goes from pre-school or day care into kindergarten, you may find your financial burden is lightened. If you find yourself with a little extra cash flow at the end of the school year, why not take that money and invest it in your child’s future education? You’re already accustomed to living without that money, so before you have a chance to get used to having it again, simply transfer that monthly payment into another payment, like investing in a 529 College Savings Plan. The earlier you start, the better. A recent study shows that a savings account for your child provides more than just financial security, it can actually have an impact on his or her social and emotional development.
- If you have a child graduating from high school, he or she will most likely be working a summer job. Take this opportunity to teach your child an important financial lesson by talking to him or her about contributing a portion of each paycheck to an education fund. Hopefully, at this point, you’ve already established a college savings fund for your child, but if you haven’t, remember it’s never too late to start. Every dollar saved is a dollar less your child will have to borrow for education. By encouraging your child to take an active part in saving for college, you’re not only teaching the importance of saving, you’re teaching your child the best investment he or she can make is in himself.
- Those of you who have a child donning a cap and gown for college graduation, don’t stop saving now. These days many jobs require more than a college education, so it is likely your child will go on to attend graduate school or receive some other type of higher education or even technical training in order to land that dream job. The good news is that your 529 savings plan can be used for this. Even if your child decides to take a year off and backpack around Europe, that savings plan will be there when it is time to go back to school. And if for some reason your child chooses not to go back to school, you can always transfer it to a new beneficiary, a younger sibling, or perhaps save it for that grandchild you hope to have some day.
So no matter which stage of life your child is in, there is always a reason to save. As this school year comes to a close, take time this summer to celebrate your child’s achievements and make memories as a family. But make sure you keep that future plan on track.
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