Saving Money for College Is a Complete Waste of Time

College savingsTimes have been hard in the Harris household for the past few years, which means having the basics like food and transportation has been a miracle-making process. That also means having a nest egg is pretty fictional. You mean people put money somewhere and just let it sit? And have it on hand in case of an emergency? Shut up! Where they do that at? Surely not here, pal.

There are plenty of downsides to being a single parent, but giving a child the same opportunities, privileges, and advantages as their peers who have a mom and dad — on top of feeding ‘em, clothing ‘em, and putting a roof over their heads — is as easy as running a marathon in iron-soled sneakers.

So I confess that my “send Skylar to college” account is almost nonexistent, even though she’s a rising eighth grader with T-minus five years ‘til graduation. That makes me think saving for college is a sacrifice not even worth making


I guess it would be roundly frowned upon if I held her back on purpose to have a few more years to get it together. 

On Monday, I checked the balance on the 529 college savings account I opened as part of my mission several years ago and was pleasantly surprised to see there’s about $1,500 in there. And that’s even after one emergency deduction I had to do last summer when the water pump in my hoopty went kaput. So I'm proud as heck for saving that much money considering I'm poor as brown grass, but I'm also fully aware that by the time this chick goes off to school, that may be enough to pay for three books and a window fan. Maybe.

My mother was also a single mom and though I know she and my grandparents tried to stash away a little cash-on-hand to send me off to school with, the concept sounded a lot easier than the execution actually was. I went to Lincoln University (hail, hail LU!) on a full scholarship, but after I got knocked up my sophomore year — hey, might as well be honest about it — I lost my full ride and had to scrounge together a conglomerate of grants, smaller scholarships, and (ack!) student loans in order to finish and make it across the stage.

The moral of the story: don’t be stupid, even in love. And wear a condom. Even in love. When someone else is footing the bill for thousands of dollars in education expenses, Idris Elba himself shouldn’t be able to lure you to such foolish decision-making.
Of course, I'm going to be pimping my dear sweet daughter off for scholarships the closer we get to launch time. She’s involved in too many activities not to be offered some kind of extraneous cash. I mean, have I been zipping to and fro to dance recitals and music lessons and choir rehearsals and oratorical contests just for the sake of sitting in the audience and being the loudest clapper in the bunch? Methinks not.

That’s been cute and all, but now as I get closer to dropping her off on Any Campus USA for her freshman year (oh dear Lord — the mere thought makes me clutch my chest like Fred Sanford), I’m going to need all of those cultivated gifts and talents to cough up some tuition-paying dough.

I must confess, though, that I’m a little disappointed in not having a more direct hand in paying for my child’s education. I make a big deal about going to college. It’s not even something I presented as an option. We’ve been talking about going to college since she was a preschooler to make it clear that it was a given that she would be going. Now after all of that hype courtesy of yours truly, I’ll be hustling to come up with the money to send her. And I only have one. God bless the mothers who have two and three and four little ones to plan and plot financially for.

My mom always told me not to have more kids than I could pay to go to college, and judging by this recent update, I shouldn’t even have had the one I’ve got. So I’m wondering if it’s even worth the sacrifice and energy to continue trying to save when it's pretty clear that, barring any miracles, I’ll be shelling out-of-pocket cash and very reluctantly signing on the big, horrid X of student loan applications to pay her way.

Have you been saving money for your kid’s college education? How’s that going? (Better than mine, I hope.)

Image via Thirty30 Photography/Flickr

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