With one of my sons starting his sophomore year of college in two weeks, and another one in high school and heading toward a campus soon, higher education finances are front and center in my universe now. While my wife and I did save some money for this purpose during the past 20 years, I wish we’d been more aggressive and saved more — or saved more smartly. If you have teenagers, toddlers or even one on the way, consider putting some time into talking about and planning for the college years. They’ll be here before you know it.
▪ Think about your parents, and how they saved (or didn’t save) money for things such as higher education, retirement or other life events. Did they plan ahead, and did any of their habits rub off on you?
▪ Begin a conversation with your wife about your dreams and hopes for your children. Where does college fit in? If this is a high priority for you both, try to find consensus on how much you should target for savings. Can you make your actions match your priority level?
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▪ With your wife, continue this conversation with a financial planner. Vehicles such as 529 plans are specifically designed for educational purposes, but there are many other products out there. Saving is especially hard when your children are young and you have other expenses but will be the most meaningful if you utilize as many years possible for growth.
The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at e5x @psu.edu, Robert Orndorff at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mick Trombley at mick@mick trombley.com, Chris Dufour at chrisdufour19 @gmail.com, Mark Oleynik at email@example.com, Doug Loviscky at doug @lovisckylaw.com, or Marc McCann at marc.mccann88 @gmail.com.