10 simple tips for funding a 529 plan
S.Pursuing your child’s future can affect yours if you’re not careful. Before you start putting money into a 529 plan or other account for your child’s college savings, look for easy ways to fund them without affecting your life dramatically.
These can be small decisions – like redirecting credit card rewards to college savings – or something bigger. Patricia Roberts, author of Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans, says her family saved by keeping the same car she had when her child was born until she went to college.
“As long as it was still going well, it didn’t have to be replaced,” she says.
You may not have or need to do nothing so dramatic to fund your child’s education. But try these tips to maximize college savings.
Connected: The Best 529 College Savings Plans
1. First, review the tax benefits
One of the easiest ways to increase college savings is through government tax deductions and credits. These can be some of the most lucrative Benefits of a 529 plan in addition to its already tax-free investment status. Depending on your state (and the state plan you’re investing in), you may be eligible for an annual tax deduction of up to $ 20,000. Check your state’s tax deduction rules before choosing another state’s plan.
Why is state tax deduction important when you can’t afford to hide more than $ 100 a month? It is important because you plan for the long term and you don’t want to miss out on free money. If you saved $ 1,200 in one year and your income tax rate is 5%, the state would essentially give you back $ 60 annually. In 10 years, you would save $ 600 plus income from investments.
2. Check your budget
Chances are you have excess spending somewhere in your budget – from subscriptions you forgot to cancel to overpaid car or home insurance premiums. Take the time to review your budget and eliminate expenses that are not adding to your life.
“We checked our family budget from time to time to see if we could cut or eliminate expenses,” says Roberts. “Our son was in middle school when he suggested we stop our cable service. We replaced it with a TV antenna and a cheaper streaming service and saved $ 2,000 a year that we deposited into his 529 plan account. “
You don’t have to do this annually, but from time to time take stock of what you are paying for and why. You might even find cheap car insurance That doesn’t force you to sacrifice quality. Finally, compare cable and phone options to get the best deal. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to find an extra $ 20 to $ 100 per month that could be tucked into college savings.
3. Redistribute early childhood expenses
One of the easiest ways to find money for college savings is to reallocate money you’ve spent on goods and services your child no longer needs. When your child is potty trained, you can do the $ 500 to $ 900 in diapers They spent it annually and put it in college, for example. And just imagine how much money you can save when daycare is no longer a weekly expense.
4. Set up automatic investing
If you sign up for a 529 plan account, you can likely have regular cash transfers from your bank account to the college savings plan. Consider choosing an amount that is low enough to make the contribution long-term. You can always make additional contributions if you can, or increase the amount of the auto transfer if you receive a raise.
“After returning to work from maternity leave, I set up my payroll in a 529 account,” says Roberts. “If the money doesn’t flow through my hands, there is no possibility that it will be spent on other things.”
Keep in mind, however, that some plans have a minimum contribution amount. For example, New York’s 529 Advisor-Guided College Savings Plan requires a minimum deposit of $ 1,000 and $ 25 monthly minimum subscription. In the meantime, the Florida 529 Savings Plan requires neither minimal initial nor ongoing contributions. Be sure to research the requirements of your plan before opening an account.
5. Reinvest credit card rewards
deposit Cashback You have earned from your credit cards in your 529 plan account. Best of all, you can still get an income tax deduction from your state on the money you make and deposit.
6. Payment of purchase discounts
You can make money back from online purchases at shopping and cash discount sites. The money can easily add up to fund your account without buying items that you normally wouldn’t buy.
There are even websites and services specifically designed to increase your college savings. Uromise is a company that offers a shopping loyalty program to help make money back on college savings. You can use the Upromise website as a first stop when shopping for anything from diapers to airline tickets. The company too offers a credit card that automatically pays cashback rewards to your 529 account.
7. Accept 529 plan gifts
One of the least financially stressful ways to raise college savings is by looking for. to ask 529 plan deposits as a gift for your student’s birthday, graduation, and vacation.
You may be able to send gifts straight to the savings plan account – provided the person writing the check has the account number and name of the beneficiary – or through a service like Ugift, which allows contributors without having to know the account number.
“There will be at least 40 gift opportunities between birth and the age of 18 that friends and family can contribute to your child’s college account,” says Roberts. “If 10 friends and family members contribute only $ 25 per opportunity, you could have over $ 14,000 college with a 5% annual return.”
8. Take advantage of your job bonuses
When you receive vacation or other workplace bonuses, you can take a percentage of the bonus and deposit it into your student’s 529 plan account. Your employer may also offer an increase in college savings as a fringe benefit.
“More and more employers are viewing 529 college savings account contributions as a voluntary benefit in the workplace, and others are starting to recognize births and adoptions with a 529 plan gift card,” says Roberts.
Contact the HR department at your workplace to see what help they can offer.
9. Round up your purchases
Your bank may let you use a debit card to round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and then put the change in a savings account.
For example, Bank of America offers their Keep the Change program, which allows you to transfer the rounded change from your checking account to either your or your child’s savings account. The Acorn investment app offers a similar program via its debit card, which automatically transfers rounded money in 5 euro increments from your checking account to your investment account.
10. Use the actual replacement money
It is not uncommon for families to have a college savings piggy bank strategy. The best part? The piggy bank can become a budgeting lesson for your kids. For example, you could get a piggy bank that divides money into four separate funds: Saving, Spending, Donating, and Investing.
“Twice a year we got our son to cash in the coins he was diligently saving in his piggy bank, and we got an average of $ 600 a year into his college savings account,” says Roberts.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.