Saving for College: A crash course in budgeting

Family Planning Early for CollegeYour newborn has just turned six months old and you’ve finally gotten a handle on this whole “parenting” thing (the first lesson was that you can never have too many packages of diapers). You’ve bought everything you can think of for your child – the best crib available, a top-of-the-line stroller and enough toys to open up your own store. But have you thought about a plan to save for college? According to a recent study, commissioned by Gerber Life, 91 percent of moms and dads would give up vacations, cell phones or the Internet if it could cover the cost of their child’s education. What many of them may not realize is that they don’t have to give up everything if they start saving something today.

Here’s how you can start budgeting for college today:

Begin With an End Goal in Mind
For the 2010 to 2011 academic year, the annual cost for undergraduate tuition, room and board were estimated to be $13,600 at public institutions, $36,300 at private not-for-profit institutions, and $23,500 at private for-profit institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Although many factors will play a part in determining where your child goes to college, set a realistic goal for the total amount you’d like to budget for college based on current costs. Map out how much you’d need to set aside each month to get there.

Explore Your Options
There are a wide variety of options for saving for college, such as the Gerber Life College Plan, which is the only college plan that doubles as adult life insurance. After evaluating all of your options, narrow them down to the three plans you like best, and then closely compare the features and benefits of each. Make sure that your selection offers:

1)   Guaranteed growth.
2)   Guaranteed value that doesn’t diminish over time.
3)   Payout money that may be used for any purpose.

Stick to Your Budget
A budget is only as effective as its implementation. Once you decide on a monthly amount to save for college, be diligent about saving. It will be much easier to make small sacrifices now – such as making coffee at home or packing lunches during the work week – than it would be to make big sacrifices later, like going into debt in order to pay for your child’s college education.

So while you’re still shopping for diapers (and more diapers) it’s also the perfect time to start shopping for a college plan. It’s never too early to give your child a head start toward a successful future.

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Categories: College Planning
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