Let’s face it – having kids is expensive and the biggest bill of all starts coming due when they’re about 18 and previous generations of parents might have been off the hook. These days though, there really are no jobs available for youngsters, so it only makes sense that more kids are turning to advanced educational programs instead of hitting the job market.
Unfortunately, the price of acquiring that advanced education is going up way faster than general inflation or wages and this means that every year student loan borrowing hits new record highs – and the banks keep making plenty of money so their friends in the government aren’t likely to make too many significant changes.
What’s a parent to do?
Well, first thing is first: Get yourself set up with a Upromise savings account.
It doesn’t cost a thing and it lets you earn money on the purchases you’re already making. From gas station fill ups to grocery shopping trips, you’re already buying things every day that could be contributing to an educational savings account. There are no minimum purchase requirements, annual fees, or other silly catches – so anything you earn through the program is 100% pure profit.
Wait, they want my card #s?
In order to track the purchases so that you get full credit, you’ll have to attach some kind of credit or debit card to your Upromise account. After all, how else will they know what they owe you? Its just like adding a cash-back program for any of your existing cards – even debit cards so if you have an interest-bearing checking account you can earn extra money whether you’re spending or not. The good news is that they won’t actually charge you anything – you’ll just earn some extra cash in another account that can be withdrawn at any time for educational expenses or to pay back student loans.
Oh yeah that’s right – even if you already went to college and you don’t have your own kids to save up for, you can still use the Upromise program to help pay back your existing student loan debts. Its best to sign up as early as possible, but its really never too late!
Otherwise, saving might mean extra work:
Beyond what you can earn with the cash back program from Upromise, there are some other ways to save extra money each month but they might not be so easy.
One big money-saver is to cook all of your own meals. Eating out gets expensive, so if you have a little bit of extra time you can turn that in to cash savings with a little bit of effort in the kitchen.
Another popular, frugal trend this year is to grow your own food in the yard – or even on the back porch or by the window if you’re stuck in a small apartment or condo. A five-gallon bucket with a hole cut out of the bottom and some kind of saucer to hold the excess water is plenty of dirt for most tomato, pepper, and onion strains. Dozens of seeds cost about a dollar and dirt is currently about 5 or 10 cents a pound, so the financial return is pretty good if you remember to spend the time keeping them well-watered and cared for. Again though, these methods are going to cost extra time – a commodity that seems to be in as short in supply as money is.
Prepaying for college tuition is another popular way to save money on the final bill. Basically, many states have a program that allows you to start paying the cost of tuition today so you can avoid the years of cost increases that are almost certain to show up between whenever you start paying and when your kid arrives on campus for enrollment and orientation. The biggest risk here though, is that your child or children won’t want to attend that school – so what happens when you’ve paid for Public State U and they’re ready to go to the Private Ivy League? Well, you’re probably going to pay a huge penalty fee if you can get the money back at all.
Is there a best way to save money for school? Well, there’s no reason why you have to limit saving strategies when it comes to building up money for school expenses: Every little bit is going to help, so every thing you manage to come up with will be helpful in the end!