If you have one or more children and you want them to go to college then you may want to save up so that you can help them out. They could, of course, take advantage of a student loan or they could try for a scholarship, but there is no guarantee that they will get a scholarship and you may not like the idea of them having a loan or feel that you want to at least help them out as much as you can. This means that you will need to start putting money aside towards it.
- Look at finances and decide how much to save – the first step is to look at your own finances and calculate how much you can save. Obviously, you could start off by calculating how much the college costs will be and dividing it by the number of months until they go and then save that much. However, if you have more than one child going at different times and there is the possibility you may have extra children then this is tricky to do. You will also find that different college have very different fees so it can be hard to calculate how much you will need. Therefore, it could be better to save as much as you can and then you will know that you will have accumulated as much as you possibly could.
- Budget carefully – it will be really important to budget carefully You will need to make sure that you have enough money to cover all of your necessities and then other things that you would like to buy. You need to carefully consider this and then you will be able to stick to a tight budget and any money left over will be able to be put aside for the college fund. It can mean that you will need to go without a lot of things and you need to decide whether you think that it is worth it.
- Set up a regular payment – it is a good idea to set up a regular payment going from your checking account to a savings account so that money is automatically transferred each month. It is a good idea to make sure that you do this just after you are paid so that you have the money available to do so. Some people will wait until they have spent all the money they want to in the month and then transfer what is left into their savings. Although doing this is good, you may not have enough left to be able to hit your target, however, if you transfer it first you will have to budget for the rest of the month. The money will be in the savings account if you need to take it out and spend it in the case of an emergency, but it will be easier not to accidently spend it.
- Keep motivated – it is really important to make sure that you keep motivated. It can feel like you are punishing yourself because you are not able to spend all of the money that you want to. It is therefore important to keep remembering why you are saving the money and why you have to go without in order to do so. If you want your children to have a great college education and not to have to borrow or to work their way through college, then this could be the only way that it will happen. Keep your goal in mind, even write it down and stick it somewhere prominent if you think that this will help.
- Try to make money work for you – while you are saving money try to make sure that it works for you. This means that the money is earning you money. If you need to keep it in a secure place then compare savings accounts and pick one that gives the best return. If you are willing to take some risk then you could invest the money. Be careful though as with an investment there is a risk that you will end up with less money than you put in. It should really be done over a long period of time so that short term fluctuations do not have such an impact in the value of your investment. Think hard about how much risk you are willing to take, if any and whether you have the time to invest or if you should keep the money safe and save.
There is therefore a lot to think about. However, once you have done some calculations and decided where to put the money, you should be able to start putting money aside and adding up that fund so that you can help your children through their time at college.