As with most things in life, it’s best to look at the daunting task of saving for college one step at a time instead of the whole picture at once. With that dictum in mind, we offer a few tips that will entice you to get started:
- Every time you receive a manufacturer’s rebate, deposit it into a savings account that has been set up strictly for such windfalls. While each one may not seem that significant, if left to accumulate over 17 or 18 years, you bet it’s going to be sizable.
- Request a reduction in the interest rate of your credit cards. For every reduction you receive, commit to depositing 15 per month in the same savings account as the rebates. You might as well make sure you put the monthly savings to good use rather than wasting it on a latte, right? And again, 15 per month may not seem that significant individually, but factor it out especially if you are able to get a rate reduction on more than one card!
- Replace every light bulb in your household with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and as a reward to your efficiency to both your pocket book and the environment, drop the anticipated savings per month on your utility bill (usually around 5 or more dollars) into the savings account intended for such. Before you argue that they’re “too expensive” to purchase, keep in mind that every 90 invested in their purchase — that’s about 30 fixtures — yields a savings of up to 1500 over the five year life of the bulbs.
- If you have a home phone (land line) and a cell phone, get rid of the land line. Now. It does nothing but suck money out of a pocketbook that could be used to save for tuition. Again, immediately take the monthly savings and deposit it you know where.
- Install a programmable thermostat in your home and set it a few degrees off what you typically find comfortable. You can always put on a sweater in the winter or wear cotton instead of synthetics in the summer, and you can save as much as 40 a month (I know I did). And by now you know what to do with that monthly savings.
So let’s do some quick calculating. Let’s assume you get 50 in rebates per year (that’s actually a pretty modest number), save 15 a month on interest rates, save 5 per month on your electric bill due to CFL bulbs (again, that’s a modest amount), get rid of your land line at 30 per month, and install a programmable thermostat that saves about 25 a month.Guess how much you’ll have saved in one year? 950. Factor that by 17 years and you get a whopping 16,150 (not including interest that the money will be earning). And these are just a few tips to use we haven’t even started to talk about things like coupons or higher deductibles. The point? All it takes is a little thinking and one separate account dedicated to accept deposits for every penny saved each month. Do the math.