Saving money and paying cash for college tuition

I’ve had some mommy moments these last few weeks. This summer, I only have three weeks when my “babies” will all together and last week was one of them. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it was, but I realize just how much I miss my big guys when they’re gone. They bring such life to the home.

As a parent, you prepare a long time for that moment when you launch them into adulthood, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I just love being with them and celebrate the amazing men they’re becoming. It truly hit home just how rare our priceless “all together under the same roof” moments are these days.

I can hardly believe our eldest son is entering his last year of college. (Did you read about his crazy “I just can’t make this stuff up” summer last year? Don’t worry this summer’s internship will be a “tad” different. It better be.) Our second son is a rising college sophomore and due to his football scholarship, he must be at school most of the summer, and over the next two years, we’ll have two more kids heading off to school.

If you are a parent of little ones, it’s hard to fathom that moment, but this post is exactly for you because it’s never to early to start thinking about it.

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Last year, I shared 5 Ways to Save and Pay Cash for College, but I admit, with each additional child we’re adding on, it’s getting more challenging. In sticking to our “every child pays half of their college costs” conviction, our third son will have some challenges in heading to the college of his choice. Since we won’t co-sign on a loan for him, he’s realizing he has some big decisions ahead.

We have been telling him it’s never too late to save for college, and I share that sentiment with every single parent reading – it’s not too late (or too early).  In 2014, less than half of parents were saving for college and each year, that number drops. Don’t get discouraged! Know that every little bit makes a difference and there are more and more creative ways to achieve higher level learning without a huge price tag.

When it comes to our kids, we require them to have “skin in the game” for many financial purchases, as well as provide for half of their college tuition. (Read about it here.) Each of our children had their own saving accounts opened between the ages of 5 – 10 years old. We helped guide them in determining what percentage of their money to save, what percentage to spend and how much to give away/tithe. Many sources recommend beginning with “save 10%, give/tithe 10% and spend 80%.”

Since we desire for our children to be debt free, we encourage them to save more like 80%, but just like adults, each child is quite different in the saving/spending category. Can you relate?

If they are going to work hard saving, I want them to have something to show for it.

Recently, I was introduced to ECCU (Evangelical Christian Credit Union). I wasn’t aware just how unique their services are in comparison to my traditional bank, which I’ve had numerous problems with recently. As I compare ECCU to my bank, there are fewer fees, much higher savings rates and built in perks. Not only that, but they invest profits in social causes and enable churches and ministries to receive low cost banking services. They give back! I love that!

I’ve looked into a few options on how to allow our money to work smarter. 
Money market savings accounts are a smart choice for college savings – they offer better rates for higher balances (up to 0.95% APY2 on higher balances.)

High yield promotional certificates with guaranteed rates are good for saving money that you do not need to access for several years down the road.

When you feel like you don’t know where to start, consider a few strategies my husband and I have implemented through the years.

  • Use auto-deposit services. I have a few small paychecks deposited magically in my savings account every month. I love it because I have those set to deposit (and forget).
  • Be proactive and set aside a consistent amount from each paycheck. Even if it’s just $5, start with something immediately.
  • Commit to saving a portion of your tax refund or company bonus each year. Anytime you receive an unexpected amount, commit those to your savings account.
  • Keep a cup on your dresser and gather all your loose change throughout the  year. It’s amazing how it adds up.

Those are just a few of my thoughts as we stumble through this ourselves and I’d love to hear yours as well. I’m just beginning to touch the surface of this topic.

This giveaway post was brought to you by ECCU. All convictions about paying for college and ideas on savings are entirely my own.

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