Monday, April 11, 2011

Putting Babies Through College

Money. Yeaaaaa. A lot of people have a love of money, but if you're like me, you hate it. It always seems to create more problems than it solves, and there never seems to be enough of it! Most families operate on some sort of a budget, and although it might seem a little bit early to add "College Savings" to that budget, it really isn't. It's never to early to start saving! (Even if it's just a little bit).
As I sit here looking at my 8 month old playing with a paper towel roll, I find it hard to imagine her starting college. But she will. Sooner than I know it I'm sure.

So. Here are a few tips for saving some of that degree-winning dinero.

1. Open a savings account of some sort. Can't save without a savings account. Well... there's always the ole stash-it-under-the-mattress gig, but there may be better options for you. In fact, there are lots of options out there for different types of accounts, and some are specifically for college savings. Talk to your banker about the best option for your family.

2. Once you've got the account set up, put some away every single month. The best way to do this is to set up an automatic transfer of the amount you're putting away, that way you're not tempted to "just wait till next month to start" or worried about forgetting to do it. Work this into your monthly budget plan. Even if you're only putting in $5 a month, at least it's a start. And getting into the habit of saving is very important.

3. When your baby receives any money as gifts (Baptism, birthdays, etc.), immediately put that into her account. It's her money, and that's the best place for it. Remember, you should already have an allotted category in your budget for her day-to-day expenses, like diapers and food. And as your kids get older, talk to them about the monetary gifts they receive. This is a great time and way to start teaching financial decision making early on. As kids, they're likely to want to blow it all on the newest video game but teach them the value of saving. See if you can work out a system where half of it goes to their savings and the other half is theirs to spend.

4. Windfalls. These may not come often, but when they do, boy does it feel great. Whether it be a tax return, winning lottery ticket, inheritance checks, or a generous gift at Christmas, there's nothing quite like the thrill of unexpected money. And since it's unexpected, in reality, you don't always need it right then and there. The best thing to do with unexpected money is put half of it - that's right, HALF, into your child's savings. Put thirty percent of it into your own savings. And then blow the other twenty percent. Splurge on a nice date, or new purse, or a set of congas. Whatever you fancy. And don't feel guilty about it! That's the beauty of unexpected money. 

5. Don't touch the account, other than to put money IN. Your future self will be very grateful. Once the money's there, it's there. I'm sure it may be tempting to dip into it a little bit when the kitchen sink blows or when your health insurance didn't cover quite as much of the hospital bill from your kid's broken arm as you'd hoped. But the goal is to have an emergency savings account of your own for times like that, so your childrens' savings accounts are free to happily grow over the years, right along with your children. 

I know there are some people who are not big fans of budgeting, seeing it as a limitation on their lifestyle. But in reality, budgeting, when done right, opens up more possibilities for your life! Sure, you may need to cut back on going to the high-end sushi restaurant for every date night, but the money you save doing so can be going towards saving up for a family vacation to the beach, or a down payment for a more comfortable car. 
And in this case, the security of knowing you will be able to help your baby, even just a little, when it comes time for her to go off to college. As a mom, I know I'll be grateful to have one less thing to worry and cry about when that day comes.


  1. Stopping by from Mingle Monday!

    These are great tips. I wish I had started with putting birthday, Christmas, and other gift money into the bank right away when my girls were little. It sure would make it a lot easier than trying to change what we do now at ages 8 and 10. Actually, we did put any cash there they got, but my in-laws got smart and started giving them gift cards. Grrrr! I should have bought the gift cards from my girls, though, and put the money into savings. I didn't think about that. Oh well, we live and we learn.

    Have a great week!

  2. Hi Carol, thanks for visiting me at Heavenly Humor! I returned the favor. Looking forward to getting to know you...


  3. Hey there! Great advise on saving! My husband and I are HUGE budgeters but that one has not gotten in there yet! THese ideas are REALLY helpful!! THank you!
    I am your newest follower from the finding new friends blog hop over the weekend. I am one of the hosts! Stopping by to say hi. Sorry for the delay in following I was out with the flu all weekend!! Hope to see ya on all my blogs :)

  4. Great suggestions. We started a saving account for both our toddlers. All their "gift" money and saving bonds go directly into the accounts. We also set aside a monthly amount we deposit into each. I do however, wish I was better at budgeting. I am sure it would help a great deal.

    Love the picture of your little peanut- adorable.

  5. I'm with ya. We don't put money in every month... but the rest we do. I'll need to start putting money in every month asap. It's rough, but I know the sooner you start, the better!

  6. Aww. So adorable!

  7. HI CA! Great post and adorable photos of Gemma. She is so beautiful! Thank you for stopping by my WW post of my daughter in roller skates! I left a comment on your NFP post! It's always nice to meet another devout Catholic Momma blogger and who also promotes and lives the NFP lifestyle. When each of my 4 cupcakes were born my parents started a savings account for them and like # 3 suggests, each birthday, Baptism, special occasion that has a monetary gift gets put in their account. I am now following you and I "Like" your cute blog on Facebook. I would like to invite you to join the No Ordinary Blog Hop (NOBH) that I co-host. We would love to have you! You can go here for more details:
    Nice to "meet" you and hope to see you in blog land again!
    God bless!
    Tracy at "A Slice of Smith Life"

  8. Hi CA,
    Thanks for linking up this post on NOBH! It's a good one! So glad you joined in on the NOBH! Please link up as many posts as you like in April :) Have a blessed day!

  9. Thanks for the follow! Following you back!

  10. Okay I love the new blog name, and the pictures of Gemma are killing me...cutest thing EVER!! Happy 8 months a few days late!! xoxo

  11. awesome tips. i need to get on this asap =D following you from MBC-catholic bloggers group =)


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