4 Things I'd Rather Spend Money on Than My Kids' College Education

Mom Moment 51

piggy bankEvery month, I cringe a bit when I see the funds coming out of our account that automatically go into our children's college savings funds. It's not much when you look at the soaring price of higher education, but it feels like a lot when there are so many other things to pay for in our daily lives, and things I would much rather spend money on than their college education.

It's not that I don't value education; in fact, there are few things I value more. However, I also loathe the attitude that college is just an expected for kids, and that their parents will pay for it. Then we see the droves who have no appreciation for the experience, who party all night, and see classes an optional activity. Most may successfully plod their way through, but I question how many truly appreciate it and embrace all the opportunities a college educations presents, especially when they don't work for it.

While I'm hopefully raising them to value education too, I know all too well how easy it is to throw that out the window at the first frat house for a beer bong. Maybe because I did just that. I wouldn't say I wasted my college education, but to say I fully applied myself would be a big stretch ... and I even paid for part of my own education. So to have it just handed to you on a silver platter ... I'm not convinced that it's going to be the best thing I can provide for my kids.

Then there are studies that say college isn't even worth the price. So I question why then am I scrimping to pay for something that may or may not pay off so well when there are other, very valuable things I could be doing for my children with that money, such as:

Sleep Away Camp

Studies have shown the lifelong benefits of sleep away camps. They offer independence, adventure, and opportunities for kids to learn to do for themselves in a safe environment. Of course, all that doesn't come without a price.


There's no better way to learn about the world than to travel and see it firsthand. When I imagine the trips we could take with the money we save for college, I have a hard time not cashing it in and booking plane tickets.

Enrichment Activities

From sports to art and music lessons to tutors and perhaps even private schools, instilling that passion for learning and the arts early is so important, but often we have to skip or eliminate opportunities because they're expensive. Do we forgo early opportunities that could be valuable because we're so focused on saving for the future?

An Advanced Degree

If they prove themselves in college, I'd much rather help them pay for an advanced degree to help keep debt down. At that point I'd be more confident they would appreciate and embrace it.

Of course, in an ideal, cash-flowing world, we'd all be able to provide all of these things for our children. For most of us, however, that's not our reality, so we have to pick and choose. Most of us choose college when it comes down to it because that's what it feels like we need to do, and we don't want our children to forego higher education because they can't pay for it.  So yes, my husband and I will keep saving for it when we can, but it won't be without reservation.

Do you save for your children's college education? What things are most important for you to provide for your children?


Image via Philip Brewer/Flickr

activities, education


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kimijay kimijay

Here in Australia we don't save for our kids college education. If they want to make something of themselves they can get an education loan that they start to pay off when they earn over a certain amount. College education is not a parent's responsibility because when its expected it's taken for granted.

Wonde... Wonderwanda

I think you pose excellent questions. My husband and I have sort of compromised, agreeing to pay a portion of the education expense. Enough to let the kids focus on study, but not enough that they can don't understand the value of what they are doing. We're doing things like couponing, piggy banks, http://www.bankaroo.com, etc. to get their heads around basic concepts early.

nonmember avatar Mommy to 4

I totally agree with the author. Most kids I know have no aim or appreciation when it is paid for. As far as I am concerned my children will be better rounded people for having to pay at least some of their post secondary education if the so wish to do it.

timon95 timon95

i don't cringe every month when money is taken from the account to help our kids. it's for their education.

sukainah sukainah

We haven't started college funds for the kids yet.  We struggle and live pay check to pay check.  I think I need to do more like WonderWanda and start couponing again and get into saving.

Bmat Bmat

Yes, we saved for our children's college educations.  They graduated without the huge debts that so many students have.

Chari... Charizma77

Haven't started saving for college yet...

Miran... Miranda1127

We have a small college fund for each kid that I capped and will not be adding to. I believe it essential for young adults to work for their own achievements....entirely. On top of that, like you, there are just other things I would much rather spend our money on. We are responsible for their childhood, not their young adulthood....so our money will go towards enriching their early lives and preparing them to handle the rest.

aneela aneela

im trying to set some aside for him when i can

Senia... Seniahmom

I agree. I think I was much better prepared for life having to earn my college degree than those I've seen who have had it given to them.

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