For many, keeping track of finances can easily get away from you. Sometimes it is because life gets in the way - your wife broke her arm, you’ve been working a second job, or you are making a point to go to every one of your kid’s soccer games. Other times it is the dread of feeling like you have not saved enough.
Whatever the reason that is keeping you from diving into your review of your college savings, try to overcome it by scheduling a day and time to do the review.
Ensure the time you schedule is doable. Are weekends better for you or are you a night owl? If December is crazy with holiday celebrations, school performances, and year end business, then choose a better month.
Decide whether this is a do it yourself meeting or if you are scheduling time with your financial advisor, Certified Financial Planner (CFP), or Certified Public Accountant (CPA). If it’s just you, great. Make a time that is convenient for you and you alone. If it’s a family meeting, ensure the time works for all participants. If it’s with a financial professional, you may need to allow for time to just connect to schedule the meeting.
When it comes to the meeting, remember what the big picture is. Helping to invest in your kid’s future. According to the 2019 Sallie Mae Survey, only 64% of families are saving for college. Pat yourself on the for whatever savings is accumulated. Every dollar you save now means less you pay later out of pocket or finance.
Take this time to assess what adjustments should be made. If you got a raise, could you increase your monthly or annual savings amount? Look at your rate of return. If the college savings tool is not performing to your expectations, then consider a change based on your time frame, risk tolerance, needs, and preferences.
Investigate if there are other ways to help your college savings. Is there another tool that has more tax advantages like a 529 Plan to explore? Does your employer match your 529 plan contributions? Have you encouraged family members to leverage their gifts into college savings? Saving a dollar here and there can add up fast. Do what you can along the way to move those dollars into college savings accounts so you will borrow less down the line.
Colleen MacDonald Krumwiede is a financial aid and paying for college expert with over a decade of financial aid experience at Stanford GSB, Caltech, and Pomona College and another decade at educational finance and technology companies servicing higher education. She guides go-to-market strategy and product development at Quatromoney to transform the way families afford college.