Where does a penguin keep his money? In a snow bank.

What did the hamburger name it’s baby? Patty.

What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

When I earned the title “Dad” after our first child was born, the realization that I am entitled to these corny puns was not lost on me. After our fourth child was born, I thought, “This means I am allowed four times the dad jokes, right?” According to my wife… wrong.

But one thing we could agree on? Our commitment to saving for our children’s education.

All jokes aside, being raised by teachers, I understood the importance of education for personal and professional growth. But I also know it’s expensive, which is probably why the start of a Google search for “Is college…” usually ends with “…worth it?” It’s also why my wife and I knew the answer to getting ahead of the cost was opening a 529 account for each of our children.

And you can, too. These investment accounts are an easy way to help the children in your life reach their education goals and help you reach your financial goal to get them there. Here’s how:

529 plans…

  1. Help families save for the costs of education, including K-12, college, graduate, and vocational tuition and fees; books and supplies; student loan payments; room and board; computers; and more
  2. Provide federal (and state, depending on the plan) tax-advantages, including tax-deferred earnings and tax-free qualified withdrawals
  3. Can be opened by anyone, including parents, grandparents, other relatives, and friends
  4. Give control to the account owner since they decide where, when, and how the funds are used, no matter the student’s age
  5. Offer flexibility if the student decides to forgo or postpone their higher education, including the ability to transfer funds to an eligible family member with no penalty

Intrigued? Start researching the right plan for you with CSPN’s 529 Search and Comparison Tool. From there on out, it’s all about rolling with the punchlines until it’s time to use your hard-earned savings. Easy as pie!

About the Author

Iowa State Treasurer Roby Smith is 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 $5.1 billion in qualified withdrawals.