Get College Saving Tips From a Pro

by Melissa Russo, Planning Professional at COUNTRY Trust Bank

Saving for your child’s education can be more challenging than saving for retirement. The first thing to consider is time. If you begin saving when you start working, you could have 40 years to accumulate wealth.  For a child’s college, you’ll likely only have 18 years. And what if you’re still trying to pay off your own student loan debt? You’ll have to choose which goal is most important and prioritize.  Melissa Russo, a planning professional at COUNTRY Trust Bank, provides some guidance as you balance saving for college and retirement.

Put yourself first

While you may want to pay for your child’s education, ensuring your own financial security should be your top priority. You will have many options available to you and your child to help pay for college – scholarships, grants, community college, living at home, military service and even loans – but similar programs are not available to retirees. Prioritize your future. 

Make the minimums

If you have student loan debt, be sure to at least make the minimum payments each month. If that minimum payment isn’t manageable, reach out to your loan servicer to discuss loan repayment options. 

Trim the fat

Break out that budget worksheet and get honest about your spending. Evaluate where your money is going and categorize between “needs” and “wants”. Cut back where you can and put that extra money towards debt payments or college savings. 

Recruit others

Grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren. Instead of buying more toys, ask them to contribute to your child’s college savings account. 

Educate early

Teach your child about saving. Do they want to open a summertime lemonade stand? Let them spend half of the earnings and save the other half. Open a savings account and track it online each month. Make saving fun! Who knows?  They may even be able to help cover some college costs. 

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COUNTRY Financial® is the marketing name for the COUNTRY Financial family of affiliated companies (collectively, COUNTRY), which include COUNTRY Life Insurance Company®, COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, and their respective subsidiaries, located in Bloomington, Illinois.