The following post is from Melissa Batai
Our oldest is nearly 13, and we have very little saved for his college education. That’s a scary thought since college costs are so expensive. In 2016-2017, the College Board stated that in-state tuition, fees, and room and board average $20,090 per year.
However, our budget is so tight, that we have very little available to save for college. Yet, with some creative strategies, we’ve been able to start to grow his college fund.
Encourage your child to save. Our son gets an allowance every week for doing chores. Twenty percent of his allowance must go in his college fund. We are firm believers that children take their education more seriously when they pay part of the expense.
Match your child’s college savings. Every week, our son puts approximately $3 in his college fund. We always match his savings, so his amount becomes $6 a week. The beauty of matching is that it has encouraged our son to save additional money in his college fund beyond the required 20% each week. Sometimes if he gets birthday money or unexpected money, he’ll put that in his college fund. He likes to see our match, and he’s taken an interest in watching the stocks the money is invested in to see his money grow with interest.
Ask grandparents to contribute as a present. This strategy depends on the grandparents. Some want to just get their grandkids fun presents, but some are willing to give a present of a contribution to the college fund. You’ll know what type your child’s grandparents are and whether or not you should ask for this.
Invest the cash back from your credit cards. If you use a cash back credit card for most of your expenses each month, you may be surprised how quickly that money adds up. Last year, my husband and I earned $650 in cash back. That can be quite a nice deposit to a college fund when you don’t have extra money in the budget to contribute regularly.
Invest diaper money. Diapers are expensive, but luckily, that expense usually only lasts two to three years. Once your child potty trains, continue to budget the same amount you used to spend on diapers, but put that money in your child’s college savings account instead.
Sell kids’ clothes and other items. Kids grow quickly, and they grow out of bikes, clothes, strollers, just as quickly. When you sell those things, take the money and invest it in the college fund.
Clip coupons and invest the savings. Groceries can be expensive! If you take the time to clip coupons, buy food on clearance, etc., figure out how much you saved and then invest that amount into the college fund.
Get a side hustle. Even a small side hustle may bring in $100 to $200 a month. While that’s not a lot, it IS a lot when you regularly use that money to invest in the college fund. If you start investing $100 from a side hustle when your child is a newborn, by the time he’s 18, you’ll have $21,600 saved, not including interest!
If you have a tight budget, how do you find ways to invest in your children’s college fund?