• Wed, Mar 5 - 5:00 pm ET

You Are A Huge Slacker If You Don’t Start Saving For Your Baby’s College Fund

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Okay, before I judge away about the terribleness of people that don’t have a year’s worth of college tuition saved by their baby’s first birthday, just know that I haven’t started a baby college fund yet either. But whenever it gets brought up in conversation or on the Internet, I feel like a super slacker mom who must wish minimum-wage employment upon her kids.

Blarg. I spent all this time gestating a human being and pushing it out of my stretchy lady hole and nursing it and teaching it how to sleep and now teaching it not to bite its brother, and now I have to think about college? I can’t even begin to describe how un-fun this sounds to me.

Also, when I googled “baby college fund,” there were like a million different choices with strange combinations of numbers and fancy investment sounding names that made no sense to me. Double blarg. I really don’t want to do this.

According to the Internet, you can open up a college savings account before your child is even born. I always consider myself to be on the ball, a true type A personality, but pre-baby college savings never even occurred to me. Now my babies are already born. I lose on that one.

The Gerber Life plan claims:

Right around the time your child is taking his or her first steps is the best time to take your first step toward a college savings plan.

This sounds delightful and all, but I don’t know if I really trust Gerber since they’re the jerks that try to peddle all of the overpriced baby stuff at me anyway. How do I know that this so-called college fund won’t be used to fund mad scientists trying to invent some new super strain of baby food? I disapprove.

All jokes aside, I really have no idea when to start saving for my baby’s college fund. I have been telling myself that kindergarten seems reasonable since it also seems so far away (my oldest son is two). But we all know how fast time flies. The next thing you know, my son will be putting on his little backpack to head off to his first day of kindergarten, and I’ll be thinking of another lame ass excuse as to why I haven’t started saving for college yet.

(Image: Vitalinka/Shutterstock)

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  • Crusty Socks

    Call it a “Vacation Fund” to really motivate you to start saving.

    Remember, Yale costs a lot.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Lol!

  • Kat

    Neither I or my husband had college funds, but our approach to education went in two drastically different ways: I went to a fancy-pantsy private college, took out a fragillion dollars in loans which I will be paying back until I’m dead and he worked through college, took a few more years to do it, and went to a state school he could afford. I’m torn on the idea of a college fund for so many reasons, not the least of which is because by the time our child attends college, sometime around 2030, tuition will be so astronomically priced that whatever we’ve saved will be a tiny drop in a giant bucket. Part of me wants our kid to take my husband’s far more realistic stance on higher education, because I honestly wish I could go back and do it all over again. My parents, unlike his, were NOT honest with me about how “we” would be affording 4 years of tuition. I would welcome the opportunity to say to my son, “this is our financial situation, if you really want to make it through college, this is how you’ll have to do it.”

    • Bethany Ramos

      My husband and I didn’t go to college and are doing well, so that may color our final decision.

    • Kat

      I think one benefit of the recent economic troubles is that people have come to see that college isn’t for everyone. There are so many kids who treat college like High School Grade 13 Only This Time With Beer and it’s such a waste.

    • Emily A.

      Ah, you totally should have mentioned that in the article! Relevant point!

      Start putting money away now. Do it simply – read up on your state’s 529 plans. Appeal to your Type A personality by learning about the tax benefits of saving!

    • Bethany Ramos

      oooh that does appeal to my Type A – thank you!

  • elle

    I think 529 plans are the best. They are shielded from federal income tax, roughly 1/2 the state’s offer a tax break or credit on it, family can contribute (if you have that kind of family) and while it does dent your chances of student loans it is a very small dent.

    • elle

      Oh haha I think I misread the article. I thought you were asking about plans not when to start. Seriously start now. But if you are interested here’s some FAQ about 529 plans and it has links to more info: http://www.irs.gov/uac/529-Plans:-Questions-and-Answers

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thanks! I just need to do it.

    • elle

      No problem! No savings plan is perfect, they all have some drawbacks k just think this one is best. But I do agree with some of the comments below. College isn’t for every one. Like my brother is so smart but school just wasn’t his thing. I honestly wonder sometimes how his life would have turned out if my parents hadn’t pushed college so hard on him.

    • Bethany Ramos

      My thing with college is that I just hate a learning environment like a classroom. I always want to jump ahead and read all the info myself and get soooo bored. I consider myself better at self-taught subjects. :)

    • elle

      Yep that was my brother too.

    • Aldonza

      My husband is like that. One of the smartest people I know and got passable grades in high school and never finished college. He now has a high ranking position in the tech field. I, on the other hand, have to prestigious degrees and work in not-for-profit arts. Which one of us do you think makes more money? ;) He is debt free and I will be paying off student loans for another decade. Of course, now that we’re married they’re his debts too I suppose :)

  • LiteBrite

    We have a 529 plan. I’m also hoping some relatives die off early so the boy gets a sweet inheritance.

    I’m kidding about that last one, folks.

    College does cost a lot and will cost even more by the time our kid is old enough to attend. While we’re setting aside funds to help him through it, we also fully expect that he’ll have to take out some loans, scholarships, or whatever is available in 12 years time, including getting a job.

    Personally, I think saving for college is a luxury. With the economic downturn, many parents can barely afford the little things after basic necessities are met much less saving for their children’s college.

  • Kay_Sue

    We have four children. College funds are pretty much out of the question unless we win the lottery. Best be learning to play some sports and getting some really good grades, kiddos…

    • Crusty Socks

      Your hubby’s in the military right? Get him disabled somehow. There are many children of disabled vets scholarships/programs out there.

      Just um… have his buddies shoot him or something. Non-lethal… unless… well, non-lethal.

    • Véronique Houde

      but perhaps avoid the legs. ’cause then he can’t mow the lawn and is basically useless as a husband.

    • Kay_Sue

      He was in the military. He actually is a disabled vet thanks to a traumatic brain injury, and believe me, we are already looking into as many programs as we can. His oldest daughter turns 12 this year, so it’s going to be upon us in no time!

    • Crusty Socks

      Time for SAT Prep school!

    • Kay_Sue

      I’m going to start her on Latin bases this summer. We’ll make flashcards with glitter glue. That’s fun right? RIGHT?!

    • AtlasVI

      Most people spend so much money on sports if they had saved that money they would have had enough money to pay for college.

    • Kay_Sue

      I think you might have missed my joke…

    • Guest

      They did. Also, playing sports as a kid is awesome. I’d never deprive my kid of the opportunity to be like “don’t worry, we’re saving for college that you may or may not go to!”

    • Crusty Socks

      Welcome to my world!

  • Needs Improvement

    Save for your retirement, forget a college fund. I went to a state school, got a quality education, and all my mom was able to do was help me figure out financial aid. I’ll be paying off my student loans for years and years, but I kept them at a reasonable level and I fully appreciated that i was paying for these classes, so that I’d better show up and do well.

    • AE Vorro

      Yes! This! If you can save for your kid, great! But if it comes down to retirement vs. college, save for retirement. It will be of more benefit for the kiddos in the long run.

  • Joy

    We just started a 529 plan for our baby who will be born in May. We did the math and with inflation, etc we have to save about $325 a month from now until Kiddo is starting college to pay the expected price of tuition, books, room and board, the whole shebang at the relatively inexpensive state school my husband and I attended. The total price is horrifying and seeing it motivated us to start saving now before 18 sneaks up on us.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve heard the Gerber plan is kind of a borderline scam and a general 529 plan is far better. We started ours with USAA.

  • Valerie

    I have not saved much for college for my kids but my parents have saved a bunch. They hardly helped me at all with college and now they are able so they want to. Good for me so I have money for what really matters. Lip gloss, cheeseburgers, lottery tickets, Target…

  • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

    Right now, most of my plan involves forcing my children to become fluent in German so they can go to college in Germany for free. It’s not a good plan, but it’s the only one I have.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      Scotland also has free tuition, as does Ireland if you have an Irish passport.

    • tSubh Dearg

      You forgot the inverted commas around free there for Ireland! ;)
      I think you also have to be resident in Ireland for 3 years before applying for college as well as having an Irish passport.

  • jane

    I think that I’m the only one who thinks “I had to pay for daycare, I can find a way to pay for college.” We’ve always planned on saving for college, but our financial planning got thrown for a loop when my husband first lost his job and then had cancer (twice!). I absolutely don’t want to leave my kids saddled with tons of student loan debt and we do plan on paying for their college education. That said, around here at least, a year of daycare cost just about the same amount as a year at a state school. We found a way to pay for daycare (for 5 years for two kids!) so we’ll figure out how to pay for college. Good thing I like rice and beans.

    • Valerie

      I dunno about the only one but I’m def not thinking that way. Because once I’m done paying $1700 a month in daycare I’m going to start buying stuff and things and taking an actual vacation now and then. My kids can figure out paying for college, same as me and my husband did. Luckily, they will have money from my parents but def not enough to cover it all. We will help however we can but it’s not a financial priority for us as much as our retirement and enjoying our lives after paying a shitload in daycare for years plus our own student loans. I’m a martyr now, don’t want to be one until I’m old and gray.

    • Karen Milton

      Same. There will be a certain amount of money for both of my kids contributed to by various family members, but it’s not enough for the entire shebang. Still, it’s some, and it’ll have to do. Retirement used to be a significantly shorter amount of time when people didn’t often live past their seventies; for us it means potentially budgeting for an additional twenty years after finishing work. We’ve gotta save!

    • NYBondLady

      Yup. Seems like a pointless never-ending cycle- go to college to get a good job so that you can…save for college for your kids? Who in turn can go to college so that they can pay for college for their kids…?
      Gotta start living life at some point.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    In Canada you have RESPs (registered education savings plan). There is a grant too: 20% on your contributions up to $2,500 per year. So each year you could get an extra $500.
    I just channel the Universal Childcare Credit into an RESP, which is $100 a month. So, that’s $1,200 a year from the government. So that’ll garner an extra $240 from the grant, bringing it up to $1,440. You get the UCC for six years.
    Without calculating interest, I’ll have $8,640 in RESPs by the time my son is 6, all government money.
    And then I’ll have to pony up the money myself, but until he’s 6, saving for his education is essentially free.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Why is Canada so awesome. :/

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Well, we were supposed to have a national childcare plan, but our current prime minister nixed it, and started just sending families $100 a month instead, supposedly for daycare. So, it’s origins are shitty.
      Let’s be serious. $100 is nothing in terms of childcare costs, especially when you compare it to a national daycare plan.
      So, I’m just putting the money somewhere it would actually make a difference.

    • Véronique Houde

      haha I do the same ;)

    • Jessifer

      That’s what my husband and I are doing. Also, since my son is only an infant and doesn’t really need birthday/Christmas gifts, my family members put money into his RESPs this year instead.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Yep, we do the same. I’m hoping we can help her out – I don’t intend on paying for her entire education (if it were even possible) but I’m hoping we can at least save enough that she won’t have to work full time during the school year.

    • Lilly

      Yep — another canuck doing the same. Although I definitely agree with jendra that universal childcare plan/subsidy would have been so much better. I am thinking that in a couple of months when my son goes up an age group in daycare and the fees drop by $10 a day I will be putting some of that money into the resp

    • Lilly

      I will add that the RESP is useful if you are not sure about a child going to post secondary as the money (what you put in not the grant money) can be transferred to another child, returned to the person who opened the plan, or be transferred to the parents/guardians retirement savings (rrsp).

    • ted3553

      this is why i’ve opened one. If my little guy doesn’t go, it’s just money back in my pocket. It won’t pay for the whole thing but it’s a great way to supplement

    • rrlo

      We are doing the exact same thing. $100 is a joke in terms of childcare cost – but combined with the RESP top-up, it is better than nothing.
      Although I am hoping that by the time my son is old enough for University – the government will allow him to use the RESP money to do other things like start a business. I am not sure what the face of education will like in 16-17 years.

  • Alanna Jorgensen

    I started a couple years ago when she was two but really can only afford $100 a month so I don’t have much so far. I wasn’t sure where to put it so it’s just been sitting in savings but I think I’ll check out this 529 plan everyone is talking about.

    • doodlebug2

      We’re using the 529 account and we really like it!

    • Emily A.

      Congrats on putting away that $100/month – it will make a difference!

      Def check out the 529. Traditional savings accounts are earning almost nothing in interest right now, so your $ will add up a lot faster in a different spot.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      Thanks! I had heard the Gerber Life thing was kind of a scam so I was lost on what to try instead.

  • AP
    • Bethany Ramos

      HA!

  • Karen Milton

    Gerber sells weird little sausages packed in mystery liquid and seems to consider it baby food. I’m not going to worry too much about what they think I should be doing as a mom.

    • Emily A.

      They also have an add for the college plan that involves parents of toddlers sitting down around a table drinking coffee with zero people attending to the children.

    • Karen Milton

      Awesome. Don’t worry about junior chewing on the electrical cord of the lamp, this is about COLLEGE.

  • shel

    I think the concept of saving for college is nice, but it’s not all that realistic for most people… especially if you are expecting to save enough to pay for everything. I know my MIL has started a fund for our daughter, but I don’t expect it to be enough to really pay for much, and that’s okay.
    I didn’t have a college fund, I’ve got some savings bonds that are finally mature that were meant for “college” now that I’m ten years out… and I’ve got a massive debt from college and medical school, but it will get paid off eventually (and it was the career I chose with an unavoidable crazy debt)… so aside from paying on loans and trying to start saving for retirement, there isn’t much room for a big college fund. Student loans exist for a reason, and hopefully we’ll be much better off financially anyway when that time rolls around, so I’m not going to stress about it.

  • AtlasVI

    I am doing a multi-prong attack. 1st. 15 year house loan (will be finished paying off house by time first kid is ready for college). 2nd a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (Exxon – seriously I am not going to stop driving) 3rd Texas Promise Fund (or whatever new name they came up with ) only paying for the first year for each kid. I think whatever I come up with is better than nothing. So even saving $10 a month is better than saving $0 a month.

    • Bethany Ramos

      We are trying to pay off our house early too! So maybe there will be more breathing room for college after that…

  • Courtney Lynn

    Yeah…our only saving grace is that my husband is Native and a citizen of the tribe, one that receives an annual per-cap. Our kids, after being enrolled, will start getting theirs, too and it goes into a savings account until they’re 18. Also, I’m not forcing college on my kids. They WILL be required to graduate high school and then WILL need to start on a job that has room for advancement, go to college, go to trade school of some kind or join the military. AND if they’re living at home after high school, they will pay rent/do chores, aka contribute like an adult.

  • Melissa

    I don’t think parents have an obligation to save/pay for their kids’ college. Not everyone even needs/wants to go to college to be happy and successful. If you have tons of extra income each month to put away for your kids’ education then you’re really fortunate and go for it, if that’s what you want. I’m paying back my own student loans and will be for a really long time. It sucks sometimes, but I don’t resent my parents one bit over it. They helped me out some in college with living expenses, and for that I’m really grateful.

    • ted3553

      My parent’s assisted a little but I paid for my college by myself. i agree that there’s most certainly no obligation and i’m always thrown by parent’s who talk about it that way. I will be helping mine but he’s going to have to work and budget to pay for the whole thing. either that or make it to the NHL which would is his father’s plan.

  • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

    I don’t think it will ever be possible. I mean, my undergrad cost $200,000, and that was from 1998-2002. My husband got through on mostly grants. Phew. (Ivies are “need-blind” but do not give out merit-based scholarships. If your family earns too much for grants and not enough to just pay outright, you could easily leave with $150k in student loan debt, which happened to a lot of our friends.) But even if I had the next 18 years to figure it out, I don’t think I could save up $200k. I’d have to put away $1000 a month! And it will be a lot more expensive by then. x_x FML.

  • staferny

    My parents didn’t have anything saved for any of us (3 kids) I had to pay for college myself, sure loans and working every day, all summer sucked but I got through it and I didn’t expect any money from them. My sister on the other hand, got my parents to co-sign for her student loans and then flat out told them that she wasn’t going to be paying them back because it was too much money. They had to re-mortgage their house and take over her debt, needless to say they probably won’t be retiring until they’re 70 now.

  • Zettai

    I’m of the “college is a privilege, not a right” clan, so I have zero plans of doing anything with a college fund. I would help my future kids out making sure they know how to apply for loans and scholarships and jobs, and letting them know that good grades and a good attitude go a long way.

  • doodlebug2

    We have a 529 plan and have been putting money into that since my daughter was a few months old, but not a lot. My husband and I have different opinions about this. I’m of the opinion that if we can help her with college then that’s awesome, and I’d really like to, but I think in terms of priority for us, there are other places where our money should be going first, like into retirement. He thinks that her college fund is of the utmost importance. It’s hard to fault him for that, since I love that wants to help her out so much, but I know that by the time she’s 18 college will be even more insanely expensive than it is now. I don’t see how we could possibly pay for it all, and I’m not even convinced we really should. And I’d rather not be dirt poor when it’s time for us to retire.

  • MaebykittyRN

    We started a fund for my son when I was pregnant, but I will not be handing over that money to him, no strings attached. He’s going to need to choose a major with good career potential and then maintain good grades throughout. I will not be paying for him to party and get a Bachelors in Underwater Basket Weaving (yes, I’m aware that he will probably party once in a while, despite my rules).

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