My mother loves to buy gifts for her grandkids (what grandmother doesn’t?!). I know that part of the fun of being a grandparent is having the opportunity to spoil your grandbabies with fun little gifts and trinkets “just because.”
The gifts my mom buys are often fun, but I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by them at times. Like most American children, my kids have already accumulated WAY too much stuff, and at such a young age! Most of the time my mom doesn’t ask me what Darah needs, but on those occasions when she does ask, I always have the same answer: “We’d love a contribution to her college savings account.”
My mom finds this to be an extremely boring gift, and I can totally understand that perspective. But on the other hand, it is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to a child. Darah isn’t going to remember the ruffly dress someone spent $50 on at a boutique store when she was 2, but she will always remember and value her college education. Plus, that $50, if put into a college savings account when she is 2 years old, can easily grow to become over $130 by the time she is 18 (with a conservative interest growth each year).
This past Christmas, my mom reluctantly gave us what we asked for in the form of a check, and I was SO appreciative. But guess what? It took me about 2 months to remember to transfer the money from our checking account, where I deposited it, into her college savings account. I could have easily completely forgotten.
That’s the trouble with being given cash or checks for future savings. It’s so easy for it to just be forgotten about and used up for other purposes.
That’s why I’m really intrigued by a new free online service called College Registry. It allows parents to set up college savings goals for their kids and gives family and friends the ability to see the progress being made toward those goals, as well as to make contributions toward those goals. The money given comes to the parents via payapl, and from there can easily be transferred into the college savings account you already have established. It’s easy for the money to find its intended home and it is easy for those who contribute to see how they have helped!
College registry has a savings calculator to help parents figure out how much they are currently saving, and how much of a gap exists between what they are able to set aside and what they realistically need to be able to cover future college expenses. I do wish that the site had a more sophisticated savings chart, and that it more clearly showed goals for the year as well as goals to be reached by the expected college enrollment year. Hopefully they will work to improve this section of the site in the near future.
While I don’t think your College Registry information should be emailed to people along with birthday invitations, I do think it is a wonderful resource to have for those family members and friends who really want to help out with this endeavor. It also gives folks some peace of mind that if they give you some money for your child, they know it is going to a really great cause.
As an aunt of lots and lots of kids, I know I would love making contributions like these for my nieces and my nephew; it’s cool to know that my gift will grow and be worth even more by the time it is needed! It will also bring me a lot of joy to know that I played a role, however large or small, in providing their college funding.
College Registry is the first type of social college savings program I have ever seen, and I think it is an excellent idea. Signing up takes just a few seconds and help makes the task of saving for college that much easier. Go check it out!
This post brought to you by College Savings. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.