This is a sponsored post for Lunchbox
10 Steps to START NOW saving for College
I know College can be a task that seems so far off, and when you’re stressed for money already it seems like the impossible that’s just not worth worrying about. I wanted to give you a few ideas that you can use right now to start saving for College for your kids, to help you break this big goal into bite sized pieces.
1. Make a Calendar and Count the Months
Setting goals is all about breaking it down into bite sized pieces, you have to look at your timeline realistically. Look at how many months you have left to save. If you have younger kids this will be a longer time period, if your kids are already in Jr. High or High School you might see the timeline being a little shorter, but it’s important to realistically look at how long you have to save.
2. Set Small Goals that are Realistic
Start now and start with something! I don’t care if it’s $5 a month, or $10 a month, the earlier you start saving for college the more you will have when you get there, with long term goals like this the principal of compound interest really comes into effect. I really believe that once you start seeing traction and progress towards your goals it will motivate you to save even more!
3. Just get Started!
I know, this is soooo similar to step #2, but in reality the hardest step in this whole process is getting started. It’s easy to say you need to save, easy to set a budget and a goal, but starting and being consistent is key.
4. Open a Separate Savings Account or 529 Savings Plan
If you are just starting out and you only have $5 or $10 a month, then you could open a separate savings account or look into your options for 529 College Savings Plans. It’s important to keep your college savings separate so you aren’t tempted to dip into that savings when you have an emergency, or when you overspend on other items. Separating the money makes it harder to use without thinking about it. This is a great way to be intentional with your money and to help yourself stay disciplined.
5. Automate your Savings
Savings First is always my rule, if you don’t pay yourself then no one else will! Having a Budget is all about being intentional with where your spending your money. The next time you sit down to do a budget try setting aside your savings first, rather than saving from the leftovers at the end of the month. More often than not, there won’t be leftovers so you want to make sure your prioritizing savings, even if it’s a small amount, the consistency will really add up over the years. Setting up automatic drafts from your checking account into your college savings is a great way to make sure you don’t miss a month!
6. Have a Garage Sale
Getting started is the hardest part, a great way to get started and jump start your college fund is to have a Garage Sale and put all the earnings into a College Fund! Remember, with college savings the compounding interest and earnings over time is huge, so you could even decide to hold a yearly garage sale with proceeds going to the kids college funds. Ask your Family if they want to help! A lot of parents and grandparents might be willing to donate stuff they won’t use anymore if they know it’s going towards a good cause!
7. Get Involved in your Community
Most people don’t think about what they can GIVE that will actually help them save but Community Service is a great way to get your kids involved in the community and it’s also extremely important on scholarship applications. Not only will your kids gain valuable lessons through service, but it’s something they can talk about and that will help them out in High School when they start applying for scholarships. There are also often scholarships specific to different organizations so check with your local organizations about what opportunities exist.
8. Cut your Birthday Presents in Half
We all know that kids play with toys for about 30 minutes then they are on to the next latest and greatest thing, an easy way to save and find money in your budget is by buying just a few gifts and putting the rest of the money in savings, You could also ask Grandparents to donate to college savings in place of giving gifts.
9. Shop Thrift Stores & Consignment Sales
There are so many ways to reduce your spending on a monthly basis and one of the easiest ways I know of is to stop buying new clothing. You can get some AMAZING Deals on Kids Clothing especially at consignment sales and thrift stores. Make a decision to only buy used with few exceptions and you can dramatically reduce the amount of monthly money going towards clothing and free up a little space in your budget for savings. There are some great sites online like Schoola that offer FREE Credits when you join, that means FREE Clothing for your kids! Check it out here.
10. Save your Change
I remember going into my grandparents house and seeing jars and jars of change. My grandfather would save the change out of his pocket every night and place it in a jar, I was always amazed with how fast that added up! Using cash on a daily basis for your expenses is a great way to save money on it’s own, but if you can save that change it will really add up. Try placing a jar on your kitchen counter and tell your kids they can get your change anytime they think about it! The kids will have fun reminding you to save your change and place it in the jar and you’ll get to see the savings add up! When the jar is full take it to the bank and deposit the money in your savings account.
College savings is something that often times seems so overwhelming that we just don’t do anything at all, it’s so important to make sure that we are planning for the future and that we are making smart decisions with our money based on our long term goals as well as short term goals. For me, I know that looking down the road at what I really want in the future helps me put today’s decisions into a better perspective. College savings is easier than you think and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, the important thing is that you just get started! So grab a jar, fill it with a few coins and start today!
Nominate a Teenage Girl Now
Do you know a teenage girl making a difference in her community? Make her shine by nominating her for the Dove Right On Girls Scholarship Contest! She could earn a scholarship towards her college and continue her dreams of being all she can be! I talked about this in Step 7 which helps on scholarship applications when you have community involvement!
Nominee Grand Prize: $4,000 Scholarship awarded as a check / Nominator Grand Prize: $400 gift card to ShopRite
Nominee First Prize: $1,000 Scholarship awarded as a check / Nominator First Prize: $100 gift card to ShopRite
Plus, 120 lucky nominators will win a $50 ShopRite gift card!
*Girl age 13-19, living in NY, NJ, CT, PA, DE or MD. One (1) Grand and One (1) First Prize Nominee and Nominator will be awarded in each of the six states listed. You can nominate girls through the end of the year.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Lunchbox, LLC. I was compensated for writing this post, however all opinions are my own.