Future college expenses may not be high on your radar while you're busy tackling life's day-to-day concerns. However, you're not just saving for a rainy day, you're targeting educational goals. And whether you're wanting to save for trade school or have visions of your kids graduating with white coats and stethoscopes, you know that tuition, room and board, books, and transportation expenses add up quickly. For more information on tuition, fees, and estimated student expenses visit the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool.
According to College for all Texans, the average cost of attending a Texas college or university ranges from just over $17,000 for an in-district student to nearly $34,000 for a resident student--annually. Multiply that for a 4-year bachelor's degree and you can see why saving for college is crucial prerequisite.
Electronic Savings Strategies
You know your budget better than anyone. Mapping out the best educational savings strategy for your family may take a few months of trial and error. Life is fluid. It evolves. The key is consistency—and to get started follow these simple steps:
- Open an Online Savings Account - Many parents opt for savings accounts that are easily accessible online or via an app in order to circumvent the hassle of filling out deposit slips, driving to the bank, and waiting in line. Online access can save you time as well as help you save money.
- Review your Budget & Determine Your Savings Amount - At the onset, you might be able to save just $10 a month. A year later, you may be able to save $25 per pay period. You can also find personal financial management tools online or via an app to help you prepare a family budget and educational savings goal.
- Directly Deposit Some of your Pay – One of the best savings account strategies is to use direct deposit from your paycheck. You don't see the deposit, so you don't miss it.
Find More Savings
You know your spending habits better than anyone. Finding new ways to cut your spending may be the second best way to pay for college. These tips can help anyone find those few extra dollars for savings each month.
- Eat at home instead of dining out. If you're time-crunched, consider spending part of a day cooking for the week ahead of time and just popping it into the oven to cook or the microwave to heat up. Potential savings for a family of 4 is around $100 a pop depending on where you usually dine out.
- Say later to lattes. You might find that cutting out buying that daily coffee is something you can do without for now. Your savings potential? About $40 a month.
- Start a side hustle. If you like to write, online content writing can net you anything from a few extra bucks to a mortgage payment. Some pay weekly, many pay monthly or once you reach an earnings threshold. Or if crafting is your thing, start an online boutique and sell your creations.
- Frugality pays dividends. You don't have to trade your favorite brands for bread and water meals and sackcloth clothing. Frugality isn't just about less is more, it's also about keeping your car a few years longer, buying your kids' clothes secondhand or taking a local vacation instead of heading to the ocean. Build memories while you're building your savings account balance.
No one's going to argue that it takes discipline to park the recommended 20 percent of your income into your savings account every month. It's true that not every family is going to have the disposable income to follow the 50/30/20 rule for budgeting when you're using most of your income to put food on the table and taking care of immediate basic needs. Yet "out of sight, out of mind" might be a doable strategy for getting started on college savings.
Gather Support for your Goals
You know your goals better than anyone. When you set out to save for education, you know it can take several streams of funding to reach your target.
- Save what you can and seek out scholarships and grants as early as possible. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It will let you know what kinds of Federal Student aid that your family is eligible for. Don't forget to tap state aid resources as well as church, fraternal and job resources! Often an employer will offer little-known grants to parents of high-school or college-aged children. You won't be left out if you homeschool, either. There are many homeschool scholarships and grants. Keep an eye to deadlines and plan accordingly.
- In addition to applying for scholarships and grants, be sure to reach out to your close friends and family. Encourage gifting directly to your educational savings account. You can have grandparents, aunts and uncles deposit birthday and other milestone gifts into your savings account.
At Third Coast Bank, we understand that everyone's situation and educational goals differ. Savings strategies tend to evolve as life does. But what doesn't differ is the need to start saving early and to be as consistent as possible.
Third Coast Bank’s online account opening and personal financial management (My 360 View) services may be just the tools you need to save for education. Get started below!