By Mary Anne Busse, Managing Director, Great Disclosure LLC

March 17, 2020

Many communities around the country have fun St. Patrick’s Day traditions.  Perhaps the most famous celebration is the turning of the Chicago River green.  If you’ve never seen it – it REALLY is green and something to see! Other great traditions are rooted in old Irish tales.  Did you know that leprechauns are actually one reason you’re supposed to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day—at least that’s what folklore says.  Apparently, leprechauns like to pinch!  Wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, and therefore, impervious to their crafty hijinks!  Makes me want to wear green every day. 

For my family, March 17 has always been a special day!  We never had to “pretend” we were Irish on St. Patrick’s Day because we actually are Irish!  No kidding.  We weren’t as Irish as the Dewans, all red haired and freckled with authentic Irish recipes from great-grandmothers long since gone.  But, we were still Irish!  So, my mom always made that special concoction of corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes and Irish Soda Bread on St. Patty’s Day and told stories of my little great grandmother and 6 ft 6 inch great grandfather and how they came to America.  I may not have been fond of the corned beef and cabbage when I was kid, but I loved the traditions my mom shared with us!

As I grew older, I learned to perfect my mom’s St. Patrick’s Day recipes and discovered that green beer really doesn’t taste that much different than regular beer.  I love carrying on our family St. Patrick’s Day traditions.  It makes me feel more connected to my mom, who has long since passed, reminds me of my heritage, and makes me appreciate the sacrifices of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents on a much deeper level.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day has become so much more than a celebration of my Irish heritage.  It now takes on a whole new meaning for me since it’s also my daughter’s adoption day!  I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that her adoption day, the day she officially became part of our family, is the 17th of March!  My mom would have been so pleased.  Our deeply rooted St. Patrick’s Day traditions now take on a richer, more meaningful place in our year.  Emma’s adoption has truly made me feel extra lucky on St. Patrick’s Day!

With a now almost – 12 year old and college to plan for, I like the idea of a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow.  After all, St. Patty’s Day is doubly special to my family.  Who wouldn’t expect that pot of gold to show up?  Since the odds of that are pretty slim, I think I’m better off focusing on building my college savings pot of gold the old fashioned way – by saving.  The best way I know how is through the 529 plan account I set up for my sweet girl when she was just a baby!  It was simple to open, with enough choices to suit my savings goals.

This St. Patrick’s Day, in honor of my sainted mother and my sweet daughter, her namesake, it’s time to increase my automatic monthly contribution.  I’ve done it before and it literally took me 2 minutes.  I timed it!  I know I won’t miss the extra cash since it comes out of my bank account automatically before I even know it’s there.  And, since the leprechaun is more apt to pinch me than leave me a pot of gold, I won’t need to count on the Luck of the Irish to fund Emma’s school when the time comes.

Whether your pot of gold is overflowing or you only have a handful of chocolate gold coins, you can start to save with a 529 plan.  Many plans have low initial and monthly contribution requirements, easy ways to automatically save and simple online enrollment.  It might mean giving up an Irish coffee here or there, but it’s so worth it!

And, for a little bonus fun for the kiddos, try this St. Patrick’s Day quiz courtesy of National Geographic Kids!


About the Author:
Mary Anne Busse is the Managing Director of Great Disclosure LLC, a full service strategic consulting firm dedicated to the 529 and ABLE Plan marketplaces. Great Disclosure represents 529 and ABLE Plan administrators on all aspects of 529 Plan and ABLE administration, marketing, and operations and is a registered municipal advisor.