Kids are expensive. That’s pretty much a given. So expensive, in fact, that some studies put the average cost of raising a child to the age of 18 at close to a quarter of a million dollars. And that’s before you throw the cost of college into the mix. Picked yourself up off the floor yet? Here are five reasons to dig even deeper and start saving for college now. Right now.
An Education Rarely Comes Cheap
The cost of college comes in around $9,000 to $11,000 a year depending on whether your child goes to a public or private school. That’s the rate for 2014-2015, so you can reasonably expect that figure to be substantially higher by the time your little darling comes of age. That sort of money can rarely be raised overnight, so the sooner you start the better.
Buy Your Child Choice
Money may not bring happiness in life, but where an education is concerned, it does buy you a certain amount of choice. True talent will shine whether your child goes to community college or an Ivy League school, but a helping hand never hurts. Grades permitting, having sufficient money behind you allows your child to attend their first choice of college.
Gain Tax Advantages
The most common way to save for college is to make regular contributions to a 529 Plan. These popular college savings accounts are essentially a way to benefit from tax free savings, assuming, of course, your offspring doesn’t decide against college and uses the money to fund a round-the-world trip instead. Remember to shop around for the best deal.
Family Can Help Boost Savings
If you’ve ever looked around on birthdays and Christmas and wondered where to put all the new stuff, you won’t be alone. Give your home some breathing space by inviting family to contribute to college savings instead. Grandparents, in particular, are usually keen to help and the option to put money direct into a 529 plan makes it simple to do so.
Starting “Real” Life in Debt is No Fun
In 2015, the average college graduate stepped out into the world with a record debt of more than $35,000. That’s no way to start living the dream. The more you can save now, the less your child will owe later. They’d probably only ask for your help after graduating anyway, so you may as well bite the bullet and put your hand in your pocket now.
These five reasons should inspire you to start saving for college now, but if you need extra motivation, think of it this way – your kid may help choose your nursing home one day. It’s best to keep them sweet.