by Jennifer Wieland
As a mom, it is your job to keep everyone on track. You are responsible for ensuring everyone is fed and clothed. You also have to think ahead to college. By taking control and starting a college savings account for your children, you can help to give them a bright future. However, when finances are tight, as is the case in many homes, it can be tough to figure out how to save. Here are some college savings tricks you can enjoy.
Know the Options
While you certainly can open a savings account to put money aside for your child’s college, there are some other options that allow you to make more use of your money. The most popular choice is a 529 plan. You can either use a 529 savings or 529 prepaid tuition plan. The savings plan is similar to a retirement account except you can get a lot of tax breaks with them. The money in these accounts is invested to hopefully help build it at a quicker rate. The prepaid tuition plan, as the name suggests, lets you prepay tuition at your chosen institution at current rates, which can save you big on inflation. Reviewing your college savings plan options is a good first step.
Develop a Plan for Saving
Before you can start to save, you need to know you have the money to do it. You should go over your budget and add in college savings as an expense. Putting it in your budget makes it much easier to just slip the money away each time you pay bills.
You also can go over your bills and try to find a way to reduce them. Often shopping around or just calling in can help you get lower rates. A good trick for saving on insurance is to visit a local insurance office. The face-to-face interaction makes things more personal and encourages them to work hard to find you a good deal.
Give Up Something to Help Out
Sometimes extra money is hard to come by. However, most people have one or two things they spend money on that they don’t really need. Fast food lunches and expensive coffee drinks are two examples. These things may be something you really enjoy but cutting them out or just cutting them down can free up a nice amount of money that can go towards the college savings.
Use the Grocery Store Trick
When you are shopping for groceries, always hunt out the deals. These days most grocery store receipts will include a line that tells you how much you saved. This leads to a nice trick to saving money easily. Every time you grocery shop, you put whatever you saved in a savings account. This can add up really fast, especially if you shop for deals and use coupons.
Saving money for your kid’s college expenses doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. You can work ways to save into your everyday life easily. It is all a matter of just being a bit more aware of how you spend and making a few new choices in what you spend.
Are you or did you save for your child(ren)’s college?
by Jennifer Wieland
Many thanks to Kleenex and Walmart for sponsoring today’s post and for keeping dorm rooms everywhere stylish.
My oldest is heading into his senior year in college and I am returning to college this year. This is a big year for us with all of the college happenings. Luckily though I am attending a local community college so no dorm for me. My son and his buddies are renting a house for the second year in a row and being seniors now they have carried most of their stuff with them from place to place and year to year. I do remember my son’s freshman year though and having the college send us a brochure for a bedding and room kit we could buy. It was way overpriced but did help give me a checklist. As the year went on though we added things and removed things and by sophomore year we knew what we were doing. So I’m going to share with all of you new college moms and dads what you should be getting and things you can skip or will want to check with the school about before shopping for basic dorm room essentials for incoming freshman.
Things to Know Before You Start Shopping for a Dorm Room:
- The dorms come with beds and they can be left as is or stacked for bunk beds so there is more room.
- Desks and desk chairs are pretty standard in most college dorm rooms. Check with the school to verify.
- If your child has a private bathroom it most likely already has a shower curtain and toilet paper.
- The room should be furnished with waste baskets for trash disposal.
- Many dorms do not allow you to have open heat source items for cooking due to fire hazards. So no hot plates, toaster ovens, pizza ovens, etc.
10 Dorm Room Essentials for Incoming College Freshman By Kleenex at Walmart:
- The Mini Fridge: I would suggest splurging and getting one of the taller mini fridges that has an actual good-sized freezer. If your child is male or an athlete most school meal plans won’t be enough and they will need more food or if you have a picky eater this may be the only thing that helps them eat regularly by keeping frozen meals & pizzas stocked. (While they won’t let you cook usually in anything other than a microwave a lot of dorm buildings may have a central kitchen the kids can use.)
- A Futon: While there are beds and desk chairs in most dorm rooms those don’t really leave any place to sit and hangout with friends or watch a game or play some Xbox. Trust me this will be a big help and it also doubles as guest quarters so if they have a friend come visit from out-of-town there is a bed for them to use. (Many co-ed dorms will allow girlfriends/boyfriends or friends to sleep in your child’s room if it is okay with the roommate. If you decide to skip the futon another option is some folding chairs and tray tables that can easily be tucked away when not in use.)
- A TV: While it would be nice to believe that your child is going to head to college and go to class and do classwork from sunup to sundown that just won’t be the case. They will want to watch TV, movies and play video games during their downtime. (Many colleges even have movies in the dorms or libraries that the kids can checkout to watch and most rooms are wired for basic cable.)
- A Bedding, Towel, Laundry Kit: You can find these kids pretty much anyplace that sells college back to school supplies. They usually come packaged in a hamper. The hamper usually contains a sheet set, comforter, towel set & foam mattress topper. Those are usually the basics but it can contain more items too. (You will want a mattress topper because the mattresses are not the best quality and they are reused from year to year so the topper helps make it more comfortable and just a little less gross.)
- A Laptop: This is just an absolute necessity in this day and age for college. Kids these days use their computers, tablets and phones for everything and how easy does it make school when you can record audio and video of a lecture or lab.
- A Keurig: Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, juices & vitamin drinks are all available now in k-cups. Some juice, a hot caffeinated drink and some vitamins are a great way to start the day and keep them healthy and awake in class. Plus the Keurig allows for people to easily have different tastes. (You can even get college decals for your Keurig from Walmart.)
- A Microwave Oven: This goes hand in hand with the fridge. Having some ability to make yourself a hot meal when you are hungry is always needed.
- A Small Set of Dishes, Cups & Silverware: Do not get anything breakable. They don’t need to be fancy and they will not have anyplace to store more than that. A few pieces allows them to be able to eat and drink in their rooms but can be easily hidden away in the closet or a drawer when not is use. Think easy clean items because many will be washing this stuff in bathroom sinks.
- Kleenex Expression Oval Face Tissue: These boxes are conveniently sized and shaped to be hidden throughout the dorm room in what little nooks and crannies are left after your kiddo gets settled. This is important because as all the kids move in and share the same recycled air people will get sick and it will spread. Make sure your kid is doing their part to stay healthy by having the Kleenex Expression Oval Face Tissue box handy to brighten their room and to hand out to any one with a cold or allergies that comes by to visit. (I like being able to add a functional pop of color with a fun pattern too.)
- A 2-in-1 Stick/Hand Vacuum: There are a bunch of different options for stick or hand vacs but only a few that have both. A stick vac will allow them to clean up the floors easily in their rooms, while the hand vac is perfect for cleaning up messes on their desks.
Kleenex Expression Oval Facial Tissue is great to have on hand because not only is it functional but it also adds an artistic design element to what is often a boring, plain dorm room. It helps allow you to express your personality in a room that is neutral by design from floor to ceiling.
I am loving this chevron pattern and the color choices. These are a fun alternative to the old lady looking boxes of tissue with roses and other flowers on them. They are just perfect for a young adults first place away from home.
Do you have any other ideas on fun and functional ways to add some personality to a dorm room?