Why We Aren't Saving Just for College
We don't know what the kids' life plans will be, but we want to give them a start whether they attend college or not.
It’s normal to daydream about our children’s future. We wonder what they’ll be like, what they’ll become. For many of us, those hopes and dreams include sending our kids off to college. However, college is expensive so many parents begin to think about saving money towards it before their babies can even talk.
Having babies results in lots of financial planning conversations. From making plans to reduce debt to restructuring budgets, my husband and I talked more about money during my first pregnancy than we had throughout our marriage. Adding little ones dependent upon us to our family meant we needed to have a handle on our cash flow. Neither of us wanted to risk being in a position where we couldn’t provide for our kids.
One of the things we needed to consider was saving for their future.
We considered a 529 college savings account, but after looking further into it decided it wasn’t right for our family. Although both my husband and I went to college, what if our kids don’t want to go? What if college isn’t right for them? There’s a lot of pressure to save for college expenses and a lot of pressure for kids to go to college.
The cost of secondary education continues to rise. I shudder to think what it will cost 18 years from now. Thankfully, there continues to be a variety of ways to learn and gain valuable experiences. Who knows what higher education will look like then?
It’s not that we don’t want our children to continue their education. We will always encourage learning, but we want to keep an open mind about what that might look like for them. One of our concerns about college specific savings plans is not being able to withdraw unless it’s used for eligible education costs. What if what they want to do or where they want to go doesn’t qualify? What if they don’t want to go at all–then what?
We’re still building savings for them, but we’re not calling it a college fund. Actually, we haven’t really given it a name until now. I think Life Fund is accurate. When the time comes, they’ll be able to use the money for college if they want or start a business, buy a home, buy a car or travel the world. There are many paths to success, and I don’t want to tell them which one they have to take.
We don’t know what the kids’ life plans will be, but we want to give them a start whether they attend college or not.
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