College Planning

How Can Parents Save For College When Budgets Won’t Budge

Less than half of families who believe that a college education is important are saving for college. This article lists several tips for families to start saving earlier.

How Can Parents Save for College When Budgets Won't Budge

Budget for College Savings with These Simple Tips

Parents are finding that it's more difficult to save for college today, than it was for their parents' generation.1 The reality is, families are facing a different set of obstacles that are preventing them from saving enough for their child's college education.

Sallie Mae's, How America Saves for College 2016 study, found that while families believe college is an investment in their children's future, just over half are saving for college. However, the amount of money they are saving for college is more than what was reported for the year prior.

According to the study, 59 percent of parents cited that not having the extra money was primary reason why they are unable to save for college. If you're in this category, then it's probably time to create a budget strategy for finding the money you need to start saving for college - today.

Here are five tips you can use to help get your college savings budget up and running. Remember, every little bit helps and the sooner you start, the better.

Tip 1: Consider the latte factor.

This concept centers on the fact that by making your own coffee from home, you can save a lot of money vs. buying a latte drink from a popular coffee shop. However, it can certainly apply to other things as well. The point is, there are many things you can do to find the money if you stop and think about them. For example, try taking a sack lunch to work or carpool.

Tip 2: Use tax-advantaged plans.

College savings plans such as 529s or Coverdell education savings accounts can give you tax breaks so that you can save for college simply by having your money work a little smarter for you. Read more about these college savings plan as well as others in the Protective Learning Center.

Tip 3: Stash away money as you get it.

Don't wait to bank that extra $20.00 you shaved off of your budget last month. If you let it stick around until it turns into a larger sum, you may end up spending it. Instead, get in the habit of depositing smaller amounts of cash rather than a larger sum every month.

Tip 4: Make saving automatic.

Once you have your new budget nailed down, set up an automatic contribution every month. For example, if you saved $50.00 off your monthly budget, then set up your contribution to the college savings plan of your choice to come out of your checking or savings account automatically.

Tip 5: Get the whole family involved.

For specific milestones or events (such as a birthdays, graduations, or rewards for good grades) ask family members to contribute to your child's college fund in lieu of other gifts. In fact, there are websites that are already set up to allow relatives to easily contribute directly to a child's college savings account. Read more about these websites and making contributions to college 529 plans here.


1. https://www.salliemae.com/plan-for-college/how-america-saves-for-college/

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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Save for College

How can you save for college when budgets won't budge? Here are five tips for finding that extra cash you need to save for college such as using tax advantages, cutting out unnecessary spending, or setting up automated saving. For more information, visit our learning center.

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