get smart about college savings

1. Start with your kid’s education GPA

In order to be effective with any type of savings plan, you need to know from day one three important things:

• Goal: Written, specific and measurable toward how much you would like to save for your kid’s college education.

• Plan: What investments, and what rate of annual return do you expect?

• Action: Are you reviewing this plan quarterly to ensure you are on track to reach your goals based on your monthly contribution?

2. Start saving now, even if it is only in small amounts

Take advantage of compound interest and time, which can easily add up to tens of thousands over a ten to twenty year period, even with minimal funds invested in the short-term.

3. Take advantage of 529 plans

These are the most advantageous, tax effective, cost effective ways to save for your children’s education. They allow the money invested to grow tax-free, and so long as you use the money to pay for tuition, there are no taxes assessed when you take the money out of the plan.

4. Use the Internet

New on-line tools, such as, offer percentages of purchases at certain shopping stores to accrue toward free money for college. Ask your family and friends to sign up for the program in order to offer greater financial benefits towards your children’s college education. You can also try out online couponing too. For example, at ChameleonJohn you can find thousands of the best online coupons and promo codes you can use every day and increase your college fund drastically. 

5. Monitor your investments

An 8% return versus a 10% return compounded over ten or more years makes a tremendous difference to the bottom line, depending on how much is contributed. Over time, this could add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

6. Be conscious of the time allocation in your investment portfolioPortfolios that are not needed for ten or more years should be allocated towards stocks (growth), while those that are needed sooner should allocated towards more conservative investments, such as bonds. Age-based models are a great way to simplify the process.

7. Engage a professional

The most successful investors take advantage of the expertise and knowledge of a professional, as they are the experts and they can help you receive the best possible rate of return based on your goals


Vanessa Summers teaches a holistic approach to money in her Wealth & Success Workshop Intensives. She is a Registered Investment Advisor and author of “Get in the Game: The Girl’s Guide to Money & Investing,” and “Buying Solo: The Single Woman’s Guide to Buying a Home.”

Vanessa has recently developed the ProsperityNOWKit. CNBC refers to her as the “Financial Guru.” 

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