Just curious about what has worked for you guys. How much do you put away per month or per year? We have started a basic savings account for our son (he just turned 1) but would like to eventually upgrade to a 529 college savings plan. 

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Teach him to play golf.  There are way too many golf scholarships even at schools with no golf team. 

In my generation the minimum was to buy Savings Bonds each birthday and maybe encourage other family to do the same.  If you have a broker it might be a good idea to ask them which way they think college savings will not be taxed in the future as well as other recommendations.  http://www.treasurydirect.gov/  "Just put a little aside and forget about it" tends to be a good tactic. 

We are putting $40 a pay period into another account labeled for him.  It happens automatically so we don’t really notice it.  As it grew larger we started putting it into CD which generates better interest based on amount and length of time it is tied up.

But we also are looking at this as his “life education fund” as well college fund.  There are some special accounts for college only but we could not use it to fund his summers / year in Europe. 

I strongly want to have my son go out and see the world when he is a new adult.  To travel, meet people and see the world.  To be cold wet and hungry through lack of planning etc.  We think the summer between high school and college or college summers are the right time for him to grow through travel.  This is not an acceptable use of education funds as defined by the financial industries lobbying of the government.  Hence no special account for this.

If you want to bet the funds you might do better than CD’s or Bonds.   If you do this go with an index fund which has no overhead costs.  

My family is kind of obsessed about financial planning. We like Vanguard's investment vehicles and find them easy to work with. As for how-to-save, there's all the usual tricks - automatic savings, don't eat out, live in a small home, etc. The only difference is this money goes into a 529 or a UTMA account.

We used to put money away in Coverdales but had to stop. Thanks to the economic idiots we can't afford it. I hope that changes soon

Hey, I'm a freelance writer and I do a lot of articles on higher education. There is a lot of information out there that isn't very well known that can help people go to very high quality schools, for much less money than one might expect (certainly much less money than the price tags would indicate). For instance, many high quality schools (not talking Ivy Leagues here because those have accessibility issues) that accept 30%+ of applicants, may cost upwards of sixty grand per year just in tuition, never mind room and board. However many of these schools have comprehensive financial aid programs to help poor and middle class students. This means that even out of the students that borrow from the schools, the average debt on graduation is just between $8k and $15k. Turns out that because these schools have such good financial aid departments, a lot of the kids graduate with less debt than "cheap" state schools.

If anybody has any questions about this, go ahead and shoot me a friend request, I can answer your questions, and if you have any college aged children looking at schools, I can even help find schools that meet their needs and have good programs in their chosen field, with very low average student debt on graduation. I've been toying with the idea of turning this into a freelance consulting gig, but right now I'm just offering to help out people in the communities I am in because my plate is pretty full as it is and I don't have time to do market research to figure out pricing, plus I like helping people out. It kills me to see how many kids end up getting completely screwed over financially when it's totally unnecessary. 

Also any of you kids looking to find a college can also hit me up. Always willing to help out.

We started UGMAs (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) accounts, and then Congress started taxing them at the parents' rate. We thought this would change once they were 18. Then Congress kept lifting the age limits.

We started Coverdells, but they showed up late. Those have the advantage of being tax-deferred, plus if you spend the money on tuition and/or books earnings never get taxed. You can also transfer from offspring to offspring. Use it all up before the last kid graduates.

Some state schools have prepaid tuition plans, whereby instead of counting on the time-value of money, you're hedging against rising tuition. There are some drawbacks as regards planning. For one thing, no guarantee to get into said school, and not all schools have reciprocal agreements.

Due to the time value of money, you're better off investing less earlier than trying to play catch-up later. This is true of any savings plan. Earlier is better.

We did give our kids money from time to time, but the bulk of their accounts came from inheritance from their great-grandparents (the youngest one arrived after that generation was all gone, hence has gotten nothing...yet...). I traded it up 500% in the great bull market, and pulled out before the bear hit. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity...expect modest gains. Bulls win, bears win, pigs get slaughtered (old saying).


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