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Tag Archive: Washington 529 plan

529 Day Inspired Learning Giveaway

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Enter to Win Tickets to One of Washington's Museums and Inspire Lifelong Learning

 

PROMOTION INFORMATION

At GET we believe that learning doesn’t begin or end in the classroom. It starts with the first question, and draws on the world around us for inspiration. To celebrate 529 day, GET would like to offer you a week-long chance to win tickets to one of Washington’s many fantastic science centers or museums in hopes that a visit may fan the flames of curiosity in your little learner. “Like” one of our 529 day Facebook posts and send us “529 Day” as a direct Facebook message before 11:59 pm on May 31 to be entered into a drawing to win one of six prize packages! Winners will select tickets to a museum/science center* of their choice from the following list:

Group A

  • Pacific Science Center – Seattle
  • Seattle Art Museum – Seattle
  • Museum of Flight – Seattle

Group B

  • Hands on Children’s Museum – Olympia
  • Mobius Science Center – Spokane
  • Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture – Spokane
  • Washington History Museum – Tacoma
  • Children’s Museum of Tacoma – Donation only
  • Imagine Children’s Museum – Everett
  • The Reach Museum – Richland
  • Children’s Museum of Skagit County – Burlington
  • Whatcom Museum – Bellingham

* The named museums/science centers do not support or endorse this promotion or the GET program.

The prize packages are as follows:

Grand Prize – $80 value (1 winner)

Choose 1

  • 4 tickets to a Group A venue
  • 8 tickets to a Group B venue

First Prize – $60 value (2 winners)

Choose 1

  • 3 tickets to a Group A venue
  • 6 tickets to a Group B venue

Second Prize – $40 value (3 winners)

Choose 1

  • 2 tickets to a Group A venue
  • 4 tickets to a Group B venue

Dates

This promotion will run Wednesday, May 24, 2017 – Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at 11:59 pm.

DISCLAIMER INFORMATION

GET’s Inspired Learning promotion will take place from Wednesday, May 24, 2017 – Wednesday, May 31, 2017. There will be a total of six (6) prizes awarded (One Grand Prize, two First Prizes, and three Second Prizes. See above for prize package descriptions). Prizes will be awarded at the end of the promotion by a process of random selection from a pool of all individuals who “Like” one of GET’s 529 day Facebook posts. The order of the prize drawing will be from least to most valuable prize package, with the “Grand Prize” awarded last. Individuals who “Like” one of GET’s 529 day posts AND send us “529 Day” as a direct Facebook message before 11:59 pm on May 31 will receive a maximum of one entry into the final prize drawing. The prize drawing will be held on the afternoon of Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Selected winners will be notified via Facebook direct message and will have seven (7) days to claim their prize and if they do not, GET program staff will hold additional drawings until a selected winner claims his or her prize. Individuals can only win one prize package during the course of the entire promotion. Washington Student Achievement Council employees and their families are not eligible for this promotion. The named museums/science centers do not support or endorse this promotion or the GET program.

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Thanksgiving: A Great Time to Recognize the Education Pilgrims in Our Lives!

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On May 9, 1998, I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. This was not a fluke, it was an intentional goal set by my parents the day I was born. Neither my mom nor my dad had the opportunity to pursue a degree.

My mom is a self-taught computer programmer who became independent at the age of 16 and worked full-time while finishing high school. My dad is the son of a farmer from Iowa who was captured while building runways in Japan during WWII. He was held as a prisoner of war for close to six years. Because my grandfather’s health was not the best after the war, my dad also worked through high school to support his family and when he graduated, college was not an option.

Throughout their careers, my parents inspired me with their work ethic, positive attitude and compassion for others. Dad worked nights so he could be there for us when we got home from school and for a while he worked selling real estate on the weekends. My mom was constantly learning new skills and programming languages to stay relevant in a male dominated industry that was changing by the minute.

_95A1504It wasn’t until I was older that I realized my mom worked with really smart people who had master’s degrees in computer science from MIT. I also realized that my dad had built a business importing and exporting goods to China based on common sense people skills he learned from decades of customer service work.

The reason I didn’t recognize how hard my parents worked was because they never talked about their jobs; they were too busy giving my sister and me every opportunity to grow and succeed in and out of the classroom. While my parents did not have very much money in the early years, they always put money aside for college. They were going to ensure that our dreams would not just be fantasies but attainable realities.

When researchers at Washington University in St. Louis recently announced that students with a college savings account in their name are seven times more likely to pursue a post-secondary education, I was not surprised. Growing up knowing that hard-earned money had been set aside for me to go to school was a huge motivator for keeping good grades and pushing me with challenging pre-requisite college courses. I knew a lot of people in my family had worked and sacrificed for generations to give me that opportunity to further my education and I was not going to let them down.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I am so grateful to my parents for their love, mentorship and belief in the transforming power of a college education. If you have the opportunity this holiday season to thank a teacher, coach or parent for their investment in you, do it and be sure to let them know how they’ve made a difference.

Written by Ryan Betz

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Preparing for College is a Group Effort

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Today I just returned from the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Leadership Conference where high-ranking elected officials and business executives discussed the future economic health and vitality of the Puget Sound region. Leaders discussed foreign direct investment in the State of Washington, the marketing and branding of the Seattle area to the rest of the country and world, and the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as it relates to building and maintaining new industries in the Pacific Northwest. The one common denominator amongst all these discussions was the critical importance of education.

 Whether it was a conversation about K-12 education reform or the need to expand programs at our state’s universities and community colleges, everyone agreed we need to graduate more students from higher education institutions with the skills to meet the needs of today’s 21st century economy. As we all know this is not and inexpensive endeavor and the costs of education continue to rise especially in the STEM fields because of the expertise needed to teach these programs and because of the high tech equipment required to run labs and support hands-on learning.

increase grads callout One of the key discussion points I shared was the importance of families saving for their kids higher education when they are young so that college is not just a dream but a reality. I also emphasized the importance of the business community to step forward and help families save by offering 529 plan payroll deduction to their employees. Even more powerful, I suggested that both businesses and government consider incentives for savings by offering matching programs so that parents are encouraged to save more and are better prepared to meet the rising costs of education. The one thing that improves access to education is resources and the one way we can help increase the number of college graduates in our country is to help people save!

 Saving for college should be a partnership effort between government, parents and business because less debt means more spending and economic buying power for the next generation of graduates. It is proven when students graduate with more debt they are less likely to buy homes, cars, and technology because their income is being used to pay off loans. Student loan debt also has a significant impact on innovation as graduates don’t have the credit availability to startup new businesses and 60% of new jobs in our country are created by startups. Student loan debt also affects career choices. higher ed calloutStudents who have huge loans to pay off can’t afford to take lower paying public service jobs because they need higher paying private sector jobs in order to afford their loan payments. Ten years ago student loan debt for our country totaled $300 billion. Today student loan debt has quadrupled and is now at $1.2 trillion.

 If we want to fill that talent gaps that exist in our country and continue to feed the innovation that will drive the future economic growth of industry in our nation, we need to be at the forefront of creating meaningful partnerships and incentives that allow families to save for the future education needs of their children. Higher education should not be looked at as a private benefit but rather a public good. Let’s work together and be on forefront of creating instrumental change to the access of higher education in our country.

Written by Ryan Betz

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Building Your College Savings Game Plan

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collegegameplan

It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year! Not only is it College Savings Month, we’re also getting into the thick of FOOTBALL SEASON!

Like executing a winning game plan, saving for college takes thoughtful preparation, dedication and commitment. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. First things first – if you don’t already have a family budget, start one

Starting your college savings is not the only play you’ll need to draw up for a successful financial game plan, especially when you’re busy raising young kids. This is why it’s important to make a comprehensive strategy mapping out all of your expenses, so you can identify opportunities to fit college savings into the mix. Without accounting for all of your other expenses, drawing up an effective college savings attack may prove quite difficult.

2. Get started as soon as you can

The sooner you can start saving, the easier it will be to accumulate significant savings in your college accounts. Starting when your kids are infants or even before birth is ideal, but don’t panic if you miss that opportunity. Even if you can get started when your kids are still in pee wee football, you have significant time to make an impact.

3.       Keep adding to your savings

Like the Seahawk’s running attack, it’s all about “Feeding the Beast.” Even if you can only tear off a couple of yards per down (such as $25 or $50 a month), don’t get discouraged or put off contributing to your savings; small amounts add up over time. Just keep converting those third downs and your college savings will have the potential to grow significantly in value, and give you a good shot at winning the game.

4.       Don’t set it and forget it

Whenever an opportunity comes along to add more to your savings take advantage of it. The best NFL teams know that this is one of the most important factors in winning the game. Sure, it’s important to have a hungry ball-hawking defense that flies around trying to create turnovers, but it’s equally important for the offense to do their job and transform those turnovers into points.  If you receive a windfall such an unexpected inheritance, pay raise, or tax refund, make sure that some of that ends up in your college savings.

separation-quote

In closing, as you’re busy trying to hold back the pass rush of multiple expenses and priorities, take a minute to ask yourself this question: “Do I want to have a well-drawn up, cohesive game plan, or do I want to just get by and pin my hopes on a last second 60-yard Hail Mary to the end zone?” While it takes time to sit down and lay out your plans, the payoff will be worth it. To quote Seahawks QB, Russell Wilson: “The separation is in the preparation.”

Written by Lucas Minor

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Top 10 reasons to save for college

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Top10

Another September is here, and that means another College Savings Month! This month is a time where 529 plans around the country commemorate college savings and recognize the importance of starting while kids are young. In that spirit, we’re kicking off our celebration with some reminders of why saving for college is so important:

1) Reduce the need for student loans.
With student loan debt now at an average of $30,000 per borrower, and with total nationwide student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion, it’s more important than ever to save now to avoid borrowing later.

2) Expand your child’s college choices.
Your college savings have the potential to expand your child’s college choices. If an Ivy League school comes calling, wouldn’t it be great to tell your student “We’re so excited to support you in this opportunity,” rather than “We wish we afford this opportunity.”

3) Create a college-bound culture for your family.
Studies show that children who have college savings accounts in their name and know it are seven times more likely to do well in school and go on to college. Plus, setting this precedent for your children may lead them to do the same when they start their own families.

4) Reduce stress.
Your savings efforts will pay off in peace of mind. You and your children will be able to focus on “where” they want to go to school instead of “if” they can even go.

5) Create financial literacy learning opportunities for yocollegesavingsbankur kids.
Use your thoughtful planning and saving as a tool to teach your kids about the importance of being prepared, managing finances and the time value of money.

6) It makes a great gift.
The gift of college tuition is one that will keep giving for a lifetime by giving your child access to academic and personal growth opportunities as well as expanded employment options.

7) Improve your children’s long-term financial security.
Without the burden of tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, your children will be better set up for their own economic prosperity – the ability to purchase a home, start putting away for retirement and of course, start saving for their own kids’ college education.

8) Pay less for college costs.
By saving while kids are young, you’ll give your money the opportunity to work for you and grow in value. Pair that with the reduced need to borrow money, and the total college bill will set you back significantly less.

9) Keep your household expenses in check.
By committing to saving, you’re simultaneously making a commitment to reduce your spending. You’ll be amazed to find how much money slips out the back door when you’re not looking.

10) Ensure your nest stays empty in the future.
By setting your kids’ up with the tools they need to be marketable in the business-world and by helping them achieve financial independence by reducing the need for loans, you’ll get a chance to enjoy one of the best benefits of saving for college. Just think about how nice it will be to have your space back and your pantry full.

These are just a few of the many great reasons to save for college while your kids are young. The most important thing to remember is to not let the prospect of how much college may cost in the future be overwhelming or discourage you from getting started. A dollar saved today is a dollar (or more) you won’t have to borrow down the road. Beyond that, when you make an investment in your children’s futures, you are setting them up for a lifetime of opportunity!

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The Great American Road-Trip

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road trip

The Great American Road-Trip. An art to which I would humbly submit myself as a master. Perhaps not a Da Vinci or Rembrandt, but at least a Jackson Pollack, or “guy who draws Dilbert.” I grew up in a military family, with the transitory lifestyle that goes along with it. As a result, most of our summers began with a road-trip back to Washington to visit our extended family.

I’ve made the trip from one coast to the other, whether it be in the driver seat, back seat, or trunk (just kidding), at least 10 times; with countless slightly shorter journeys in between. At times, the endless hours trapped in the backseat, overflowing with “are we there yet’s,” seemed a mild form of torture. My family always, “made really good time,” but three days sitting still was three days sitting still no matter how you sliced it.

Looking back however, I find myself rather nostalgic about these grueling ordeals. Many of my fondest memories involve me annoying the crackerjacks out of my two sisters while my parents were focused on the road. Even today I get a twinge of excitement at the prospect of hopping in the car with my family to run off on a miniature adventure. Having the opportunity as mini-nomads to see the Grand Canyon, the Mighty Mississippi, and the World’s Largest Ball of Yarn, is truly a gift. road trip quoteMore importantly, long after my parents ears stopped ringing, the bite-marks on my arm faded, and the horrific smells left in the car were vanquished, these memories have continued to be a tremendous source of joy in my life.

The value of packing the family up and heading off to experience something magical together, while leaving behind all other distractions is enormous. It can be such a powerful bonding experience.

It’s difficult to find time to get out like this but summer break is a beautiful thing. And how fortunate are we to have such natural beauty at our fingertips in Washington, where a weekend getaway can take you from a rainforest, to an ocean, to an awe-inspiring mountain.

Regardless of what free-time has allowed, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer so far, building memories, settling toy ownership disputes, and cutting gum out of hair.

Written by Dan Payne

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A Blast From the Recent Past

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GETKits

It’s hard to believe that we just wrapped up our 16th enrollment period! Since the program opened in 1998, GET has helped Washington families open more than 157,000 college savings accounts. Further, to date, we’ve already paid out $560 million in benefits on behalf of more than 36,000 students. And remarkably, our students have used GET to pay for college expenses at schools in all 50 states and even 14 foreign countries!

Now, 1998 may not seem like it’s all that long ago, but let’s consider the following:

In 1998, cell phones looked like this:

oldcell

 

A laptop weighed about as much as a sack of bricks, tablets didn’t yet exist, and we still stored data on these things:

floppydisks

(which held a whopping 1.44 MB of data – that’s 1/90,000th the amount a 128 GB micro SD card holds, yet more than 200 times larger in physical dimensions).

To put it plainly, things have come a long way in sixteen short years, from technological advancements, to fashion trends, to the number of families choosing 529 plans like GET to put away money for future college expenses. Speaking of technological advancements, these have also helped us continually improve our services to GET participants. For instance, in 1998 families only had the option to fill out paper forms and mail them in to enroll in the program. In 2003, GET launched online enrollment – significantly increasing convenience and decreasing the amount of time it took to enroll. Today, over 92% of our enrollments are completed online! Further, we continually add new services that allow program participants to conduct nearly all of their account management online, from address changes to requesting payment to schools.

Unfortunately, while technology has advanced at a breakneck clip over the last decade and a half, so has the cost of tuition at our state’s colleges and universities – increasing every year between 1998 and 2012 (while more than tripling in price). While GET’s guarantee to keep pace with tuition costs has helped defray the impact of this astronomical growth for program participants, it was a huge reprieve for all Washington residents when the legislature decided to hold tuition prices for the 2013-2014 biennium (for the first time since 1986). Finally, families have a chance to catch their breath.

While this temporary stall in tuition increases is welcome, it’s not likely to stick around. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for families to take advantage of this lull and continue to build their college savings to prepare for future increases. The most important thing to remember is that anything you can put away today will help reduce the need for costly student loans in the future.

Whatever the future holds, we’re excited for the opportunity to help more and more families get their college savings started and to continue serving and being a resource for our current GET families. And of course, we’re still waiting for the hoverboard to become a reality and not just a movie prop. So keep saving, and just maybe your child will be the one who invents it.

Written by Lucas Minor

 

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Back to School Checklist

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Back2SchoolPlanning

It never fails that just as summer gets rolling and we’re finally starting to adjust to erratic new daycare/summer camp/vacation schedules, it’s already time for “Back to School” planning! For your kids, this phrase is like a pin quickly deflating their balloon of summer fun. For parents, all we can think of are the millions of things we need to take care of – “not” waiting until the last minute to diligently work through the school supply list, finding the “right” in-style clothes, meeting with your kid’s new teachers, etc.

As we prepare our children for important educational transitions such as starting pre-school, kindergarten or even high school, we also find ourselves making more involved decisions on issues like before and after school care, technology purchases to support classroom learning, and tutoring and enrichment programs.

Since many of these decisions have significant financial impacts, now is a time when many families are re-evaluating their household budgets and spending habits. This truly lends us as parents a fantastic opportunity to make college savings a part of these financial and educational planning discussions. You’re already in the mode of equipping your kids with what they will need to be successful for another school year, so consider taking a moment look at the big picture.

Here’s a quick checklist of just some of the important considerations for keeping your children’s future college plans on track as they grow:

What? When?
If you haven’t already, start a 529 college savings plan, such as GET. Saving will offset the need for student loans and let your child know that post-high school education is a priority. We recommend starting no later than grade school, but sooner is always better (even when your child is a baby or before birth). Keep adding to your savings as your kids grow.
Talk with your kids about their future aspirations and encourage them to dream big. There’s a much greater chance of them achieving these dreams if they’re motivated and supported.  Anytime! It’s important to continue this dialogue throughout your child’s development.
Make visits to college campuses. Get your kids excited about the idea of being college students. Anytime, but it’s especially important as your kids are entering middle and high school.
Encourage your kids to take on extracurricular activities, volunteer in the community and take advanced/honors courses. This can increase their marketability to college admissions departments and open doors to scholarships. Middle school to early high school is an ideal time to start these activities.
Ensure your children are meeting with advisors/counselors, and taking college prep courses and college entrance exams. No later than junior year of high school.
Make sure your kids start their college applications early! Applicationsconsist of several components that take time to complete: essays, letters of recommendation, transcripts, test scores, etc. Applications are typically due by early winter of senior year of high school.
Help your kids find and apply for scholarships. The Washboard is a great resource for locating scholarships in our state. Junior and senior year of high school.
Fill out the FAFSA early. Even if you don’t think your family will qualify for financial aid, it’s an important to fill this out – if you don’t you could miss out on some helpful dollars. Late winter/early spring of senior year of high school. Don’t risk losing out on assistance by missing the priority deadline!

This is a just a brief overview of some of the stepping stones to college – for more details and checkpoints we encourage you to check out www.readysetgrad.org. There’s a lot to plan for, but don’t get discouraged. The main thing is to be aware of what’s ahead, keep the stress down by staying ahead of deadlines and support your kids in their academic success. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to pick up 50 of those $0.19 boxes of crayons before the coupon expires tomorrow!

Written by Lucas Minor

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I didn’t want to grow up, but since I did, I’m glad I was a college bound kid

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GrownUpKids

As a kid, I spent so much time wishing I was older and daydreaming about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Yet as I look back, I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time worrying about the future. Instead I should have focused on the important things like perfecting the best techniques for pestering my sister, causing trouble with my friends, and repeatedly testing the hypothesis: “Just what would happen if I tried [insert allegedly dangerous activity here]? It can’t hurt that bad.”

I don’t know if the same goes for your kids, but there were at least a hundred different things that I wanted to be between the time I was four and when I graduated from college. In fact, once I got to college, things weren’t necessarily easier. It took me awhile to find the discipline that “spoke to me.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t unique in this regard. According to research at Penn State University, half of college students change their majors at least once before they graduate, with some changing several times.

No matter how many times kids change their visions of their future selves; this kind of introspection is an essential component of developing and discovering their passions. But connecting dreams to realities takes work. Sure, we’re good at reminding our kids of this – study hard, do your homework, and whatever you do, don’t end up in the principal’s office! But we as parents have just as much responsibility in ensuring our children do well in school and grow up to be successful and responsible citizens.

While it’s important to support your kids in their academic endeavors, it’s easy to take it too far. As parents, we may be tempted to push our children towards the things we have in mind for them, rather than encouraging them to search for what they’re passionate about. While this may be well-intentioned, this parenting faux pas can create a dilemma for students who want to live up to expectations, but are interested in other subjects.

And of course (you know I had to work this in), in addition to being emotionally invested in your kid’s ambitions, it’s important to financially support their dreams. Saving for future college expenses ensures your children can focus on “what” they want to do, rather than “if” they can afford to pursue it. As the cost of higher education continues to increase, so does the importance of a college degree in staying competitive in today’s job market. With studies showing that 67% of new jobs in Washington will require at least some postsecondary education by 2018, it’s clear that college is a valuable stop on the path to the work world.

It’s important to be ready to support your children in their dreams and take the necessary steps to help them succeed in whatever career path they settle on. Investing in your child’s future will help ensure they’ll move out of the house and buck the rising trend of “boomerang kids”…Wait, what I meant to say is, it will help set them up for a lifetime of success!

Written by Lucas Minor

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Tales from the Road – Part 1

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Jackie Outreach

One of the greatest benefits of my job is meeting new people and making a difference in how they understand the GET Program. My work takes me to parent meetings, children and family events, school activities and conferences from Olympia to Spokane, Seattle to Vancouver and even Tonasket to the TriCities. In every community I have the pleasure of spending time with parents and grandparents who are beginning to explore ways to save for their children’s future college expenses. A few weeks ago at a PTA meeting in Olympia one Mom said “if I don’t start now, I’m sure I never will.” I told her that getting started is typically the hardest part, but once you make some time to jot down your savings goals and gather some resources you’re nearly half way there. “That’s the problem,” she exclaimed, “I don’t know what to look for or even how to choose.” To which I replied “That’s what I’m here for!”

That’s my job with the GET Program – as the Community Relations Manager I get to meet people one-on-one and help them maneuver through information, clear up misconceptions, talk about their savings goals and provide resources to help them get started. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, because parents can expect to pay 2/3 of their children’s college costs through a combination of savings, income and loans, it is imperative that they start saving as early and regularly as possible. One of the first things I tell a parent is that they aren’t alone. With work, children, and life in general, sorting through all of the information in a Google search about the best ways to save for college is painful and time consuming. So here are a few tips to get you started:

Make time: Schedule a time to sit down alone or with your spouse and jot down your initial thoughts on what you want to accomplish with your savings plan. Believe me; this will save you countless hours and headaches in the long run by getting your goals, fears, and perceived barriers to savings out of your head and in writing. You might have to change things around later and that’s okay. Just start brainstorming and create a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related (SMART) plan.

outreach womens showKnow your budget:      Know what you can afford today. There are so many things vying for your attention and your pocket book so know your boundaries. Live in the ‘here and now’ but develop a plan for how to align your savings over a period of time. Start with something, and add more to your budget later when you are no longer paying for things like diapers and daycare.

Have a goal: When I started saving for my children I ‘wanted’ to have four years of expenses saved by the time they graduated from high school, but my reality dictated that improbability, so I adjusted my goal. I focused on saving what I could, when I could.

Keep an open mind: There’s a lot of information out there about the best ways to save, but realistically there isn’t simply one way. The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) advises to consider a 529 plan as one of your savings methods and include other ways of saving along the way. Just like retirement, a solid college savings portfolio is diversified.

Read: It would be easy to just let someone tell you what to do, but you have to read the fine print. Always make the time to read through the information on the savings plan you select. They were written for a reason.

Ask questions: I often hear people say ‘I’ve always wondered about______,’ which I’ve assumed meant they never asked the question in order to get the answer. Please ask…. that’s the only way to learn. Don’t end up in the same sticky situation as the parents whose daughter said to them on the day of her graduation, “Today I graduated from high school, where’s my GET money?”
Well, I’m off on another trip, this time to the Family Fun Fair in Spokane. If you’re there, stop by and meet me. I’d love to hear your story and be a resource for you.

Written by Jacquelyne Ferrado

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