Baby Boot Camp: Saving for College

Sona Charaipotra
3

Piggy Banks
NotNeutral Pretty Pigs; NextModernHome.com
So this week, my cousin Sargam, who's 17, decided to go New York University. It's a great school -- I'm an alumnus myself -- but at more than $40,000 a year, I'm sure it's an intimidating investment for both Sargam and her parents.

And I myself am trying to figure out the feasibility of going to grad school to get my MFA in creative writing.

All of which has me thinking about baby Kavya's college savings with renewed fervor.

Of course, we'll eventually expect Kavi to contribute as well, but we want to give her a head start on saving for her education. So even before she was born, this was something I was fretting over. (I tend to be a bit high-strung.) I started researching 529s and asking other new parents whether they'd started a college fund for their little ones.

Surprisingly, the answer was always a resounding no. Which really shocked me. Did these parents just not care about their kids' futures? Then my husband Navdeep pointed out that, in this economy, perhaps it's not wise to drop our meager savings into such a long-term investment -- especially considering that we're not where we want to be with our own 401(k)s and retirement savings. (Which have, in fact, been losing money.)

But we didn't want to completely forgo saving for Kavi. After all, she's got two over-educated writer-types for parents. So while I continue to explore our options, we've been putting any money that she's been gifted -- and it adds up quickly -- and random influxes of cash into a "high-interest" savings account. Granted, it's earning barely over 1%, but at least it's not losing money. And we've also signed up for UPromise, which gently pads said savings account whenever we buy online -- from books to bath towels to baby clothes. It's already earned little Kavi an extra $15 toward her college fund. Which might not be much, but makes me feel better.

Is saving for your little one's education a priority for you right now?

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