Even if college is years ahead for your son or daughter, or if you aren?t sure whether you plan to go on for university study following high school or community college, it never hurts to set aside savings that can be used for this worthwhile plan when the time comes. College costs continue to rise each year, with some institutions increasing tuition rates by five percent or more. It?s a good idea to start saving now so your money can compound at a decent rate and bring in a profitable return for future studies.
1. Start a savings plan. Have an affordable sum deducted from your paycheck and placed directly into a savings account. Forget about the money except occasionally to check on interest rates and balances. Over time, it will add up, and after several years you will have a fair amount to apply to college expenses.
2. Set aside a portion of cash gifts. Instead of spending it all in one place or for several things, take ten or fifteen percent out of a cash gift and add it to your savings account. If you get $100 for a Christmas present, put $10 into your savings account and spend the rest. Do the same for any unexpected windfalls.
3. Contribute a portion from each annual paycheck increase. If you get a five percent raise, divert one-half percent to savings. Do the same for year-end bonuses or other cash gifts associated with your job. You won?t miss the money if you do this up front, and the savings plan will increase that much more rapidly.
4. Get a part-time job. Whoever is destined for college could tackle this option, placing most or all of the income into a college savings plan. The job might take just a few hours each week or over the summer, as well as Christmas and spring breaks. Have the college-bound person keep track of the savings.
5. Invest in a mutual fund or money market account. Request that relatives give savings bonds instead of candy or toys for holidays and birthday gifts. Use these, and part of the monthly allowance, to open a mutual fund account. Adding $25 monthly can make a difference over the long haul, especially if the stock or the fund performs well.
Odd jobs, inheritances, and small scholarships won in high school can go into the savings account as well. The important thing is to keep depositing money into the account, don't take anything out, and be patient as you wait for the account to grow with interest to become the financial support you need to make college dreams come true. Even if you are unable to save all of your college costs, you can save a sizable amount that will go a long way toward paying that hefty tuition bill, book and lab fees, or general service costs.
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