The start of the new year is always filled with our resolutions and plans for another successful year. While you’re thinking about financial goals for the next year, don’t forget to consider your child’s financial future. Too often, parents don’t plan for their child’s education because they don’t know how to. Unfortunately, that leaves them scrambling or crossing their fingers (and toes!) while completing financial aid applications during senior year. We’ve got three easy resolutions you can follow this year to help save for college now!
#1: Start a college savings plan THIS YEAR.
There’s a misconception that college savings plans need to be started early on to be useful. Another common misconception is that if you can’t save hundreds of dollars a month, these accounts are useless, too. But that’s also wrong. No matter how old your student is or how much you can save, open a college savings plan this year. Like any other project you’re saving for, little amounts add up over time. Start now – and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
Many of plans can also receive contributions from family members – so when birthdays and holidays roll around, consider asking family members to send money to the college savings accounts instead of gifts! Consider talking to a financial advisor if you’re unsure how to approach amounts to save or the kind of college savings plan that’s best for your family.
#2: Start teaching your children about the value of money.
Unfortunately, many students reach their college applications without truly understanding the concept of a dollar. They’re unfamiliar with how it’s earned, how it should be spent, and the value. Make a goal this year to work with your student to begin understanding the value of money. Children who don’t understand the value of money become college students with heavy student loans. Instead, it’s our responsibility to teach our children what money really means!
#3: Involve your child in college-related money discussions.
I meet many parents who don’t want to discuss numbers with their college-aged students. But the reality is that your family’s ability to afford a school or program shouldn’t be a secret within the family. Instead, help your child understand the reality of your situation. Money talks allow students to be more prepared when it comes to college decisions. Some conversations may not be easy, but understanding what works (or what won’t) for your family and your child is really important for everyone involved.
Learning about the value of money and being a part of financial discussions are some of the best ways to help your student prepare for college decisions. Honestly, teaching fiscal responsibility and saving more for college are two of the best ways to stay out of student loan debt. Let’s make these three resolutions this year to help make paying for college a more realistic option for your family!
Want to learn more about saving for college? Check out my book: Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro. This book contains information on completing the FAFSA, applying for financial aid, paying for college, and repaying student loans. Order it now and find out how to make your college journey easier!
Who is CFAA?
CFAA helps with the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a CFAA new client free strategy session or a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my bi-weekly JustAskJodi emails. Make sure to check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter, too.