Summer is coming to an end and we’re gearing up for a new school year – which is the perfect time to start thinking about your child’s college education. It’s no secret the cost of higher learning is still rising, and saving for your child’s future is a necessity. With Michigan Education Trust and its differing payment plans, you can put money aside in smaller increments to help you reach your savings goals. But where can you find the extra money for college savings? If the loose change between the couch cushions isn’t enough, consider these money-saving tips.
Pack your lunches instead of buying them at work and school. Set aside time to assemble them the night before, and help your kids practice some independence by teaching them to pack their own well-balanced meal and snacks. Bonus points (and cash) for reusable containers vs. disposable.
Can’t get going without your morning cup o’ joe? Opt to brew coffee at home rather than buying it. Saving the extra few bucks a day can add up!
When it comes to our autos, we’ll sometimes ignore those warning lights in the dash for as long as possible. But simple maintenance can save you plenty. From improving your gas mileage to increasing the longevity of your car and all of its parts, proper upkeep is a money – and headache – saver.
Yes, there are some great shows out there and we all love our TV time, but look into plans that have the channels you actually enjoy rather than paying for 100 you don’t even watch. Maybe you can even get by with streaming services like Hulu and Netflix.
Temperature and Timing
Consider turning down the thermostat at night or when the whole family will be gone for the day. If you have a programmable thermostat, it can save you $180 per year, according to EnergyStar.gov.
Be mindful of your impulse buys. If you want to purchase something, write it down or put it in your digital shopping cart – and leave it for 30 days. If you still want it after that cool-down period, then go for it.
Got a pay raise or bonus? That’s extra income that hasn’t been put toward anything yet. So why not put it toward your child’s college?
If you can’t decide what to put your tax refund toward this year, add it – or even a portion of it – to your child’s college fund.
There are tons of apps out there to help you set aside money, like Acorns, Qoins, and Digit. Some take small bits of money here and there; others take the spare change from each purchase to get you to the nearest dollar. Watch it pile up.
Date Night Dough
Rather than going out for date night, consider having a night in. Pick a movie from Netflix, make some popcorn, silence your smartphones and enjoy the show.
Is your little one almost out of diapers? Nearly off formula? Once junior outgrows those expenses, set aside that money for their college fund, instead. You were already accustomed to the expense, so just change where it goes.
Ditch Dining Out
Sure, going out for dinner is great for eliminating prep work and cleanup, but it’s hard on your wallet. A family meal can easily cost $60. Cook meals at home as often as you can to save some money.
Gone are the days of finding coupons in the daily paper and snipping them until your fingers go numb. These days, many stores have apps that allow you to clip, store and use all of the coupons you’ll need, no scissors necessary.
Cash in Cards
You’re likely already working toward paying off credit cards. Once you pay one off, keep setting aside that monthly payment for your kid’s college savings.
Scope out sales before your shopping trip and plan your shopping list around it, then stick to the list. Any commonly used items, like toilet paper, can be stockpiled. Your meals each week should consist of sale items whenever possible. Buy things in bulk, too, for even more savings.