College Planning Budget
College Planning Budget
College Planning Budget

How To Create a Budget That Supports College Planning

Money is emotional. We have emotional attachments to our finances and that makes perfect sense. How do we sustain our livelihood? What allows us to travel, explore, and chart new territories? Is there something we use that provides our children with a better life? The short answer to all of these questions is simple: finances.

You are a wonderful parent. You have raised your child to be strong and compassionate, and you want to help them in their educational endeavors. But it can be hard. With the rise of tuition costs, many families struggle to help pay for their children’s education.

I would like to provide you with a guide that can help you budget for education in a logical and diligent way.

Start Early

Too often I see people waiting to fit education into their financial landscape at the last minute. This mistake can cause much anxiety and frustration toward the process. Start saving for your children’s education as soon as you are able. After they are born, consider opening a 529 savings account (an account specifically dedicated to educational spending).

Saving for education early offers many benefits. In addition to saving more money, you will be able to sketch out a financial plan to fit this savings goal. With educational finances, be sure to open the line of communication between you and your children so that you can come up with a plan that works for all of you. Talk through some questions:

What type of school is your child interested in attending?

  • Note the difference in cost between public and private institutions.
  • Consider in-state vs. out-of-state tuition costs

What are the additional schooling costs associated with each choice?

  • Look at the difference in cost for room and board
  • Educational supplies such as books, laptops, online access codes

How will the tuition be paid for?

  • After you understand the financial obligations, calculate your expected family contribution.
  • Look into scholarship opportunities
  • Think through different loan options

I challenge you to physically put a number to each of these components. Do not just estimate the costs, do the leg work and get a more accurate sense of the true number you are working with. This candid approach will put your mind at ease, because you will have all of the facts. Once you have the facts, you can formulate a plan that will work.

Block Out The Noise

Quite often most parent anxiety is fostered by a swirl of inaccurate numbers and he-said she-said nonsense. Parents talk, and their talk is not always accurate. Do not let other people pressure you into making fear-based financial decisions. I know that money is emotional, but that emotion can be used in a negative way when motivated by fear. Harness that emotion and use it to form a logical plan which will put your mind at ease.

I see many people make educational budgeting goals without really researching the costs of university education. Focus on savings goals grounded in accurate data, the data you and your family collected through prodigious research. Doing that work upfront will benefit you, your finances, and your emotional well-being throughout this process.

Don’t Forfeit Other Savings Goals  

Education is important. Through its training and resources, society is able to advance in a promising direction. You know that education is a priority, but it doesn’t have to be the only priority you have.

Your savings strategy for your finances is a nuanced process, one that comprises many goals like saving for retirement, paying off debt, building your own business, moving to a new area. All of these long-term financial goals are good to have. Do not sacrifice your goals to concentrate your efforts on a single one.

Balance is key. The balance between your many financial goals will help you manage your money steadily and consistently throughout time. Another task should be to list your top financial priorities in a given year. Which goal is most important this year? How will you work to achieve it? Thinking of your priorities as fluid and flexible is the key to balancing and achieving your goals.

Saving for education is not easy, but with the right mindset and a logical backbone, you will be ready to implement it into your financial savings strategy.


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