An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

My First Father’s Day

father's day

This year I had the opportunity to celebrate my first Father’s Day! I just missed it last year as my daughter was born in July, so I had to wait a long time, but it was well worth it. Some of you may know, but my wife and I adopted our baby girl last year. She is a miracle to our family and I could not be more proud as a Dad.

She is not even one yet, so there was no traditional breakfast in bed or washing my car, but she did decorate a really nice coffee mug for me (Thanks to my wife!). I can now start my collection of gifts that have little to no monetary value, yet hold a very special place in your heart.

As I reflect back on Father”s Day it’s interesting to see how my priorities have already shifted. I think much more about saving for college, having good health insurance, noticing what schools we are zoned for, lamenting the fact that our driveway is as steep as a ski slope and my daughter can never safely ride her bike down it, and dreading the day when she becomes a teenager.

My reflections did however, drive me to jot down a list of a few things I need to take care of on behalf of my daughter. I suppose it is the Dad in me now, but I find myself thinking about protecting my daughter quite often. Not physical protection (Although I certainly would it is ever came to that) but financial and life protection.

Here are a few things I plan to do in the next month to protect my daughter’s future.

Open a 529 College Savings Plan

The only reason I have not done this yet was because we were waiting on my daughter’s social security number. The adoption paperwork took a bit longer than anticipated so opening a 529 college savings plan has to be put on hold.

I have been evaluating 529 plans however, and I have narrowed it down to the plans offered through my state (South Carolina) and those offered through Utah. The Utah plans are managed through Vanguard, and I can participate in the plan even though I don’t live in their state. The Utah plan also received an exceptional rating from MorningStar, which is a good enough reference for me!

I plan to invest a bulk of money up front that we had been savings from gifts and presents for my daughter over the past year. After the initial deposit, I plan to invest a small amount each month to take advantage of dollar cost averaging. Working in college finance, it is interesting to hear stories from parents about a 529 plan. One of the main questions I receive is: “How long does it take to process withdrawals?” We charge late fees to students ever year because their 529 college savings plan check arrived late. You can bet I will be asking my prospective plans how long their withdrawal process takes!

Changing my Beneficiaries

This is again something that would have been taken care of much sooner, but we were waiting on my daughter’s social security number. However, now that we have it, we can properly add her as beneficiaries to our private term life insurance policies, my life insurance policy through work, my retirement accounts, and all of our savings/checking accounts.

It is hard to keep track of every place that has you designate a beneficiary, so it is a good idea to keep a running list of those places whenever you are asked to designate one.

Create a Will

Finally, my wife and I need to create a will. It will be very simple, but to avoid a lengthy stressful court process, should it ever be needed, a simple will will save a lot of trouble.

I have looked at services such as LegalZoom.com but I chose to go with a lawyer in town who will create a simple will for my wife and I for $120. The ease of being able to ask him many questions and draft our will just as we want it, is worth much more than $120.

Also, knowing that my daughter will be well cared for should something ever happen to my wife and I lets me rest easier at night.

The Bottom Line

There is no way to protect our children from all harms that will come to them. In fact, many trials are often great teaching experience for children. However, I want my daughter to be protected and well cared for should something ever happen to me.

What ways to you plan and save to provide and protect the future of your children?

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10 Comments

  1. Happy Father’s Day! Such an awesome thing. Enjoy ur baby girl!
    Jules@Faithful With a Few recently posted..What Shall We Ask God To Do?My Profile

  2. Congrats on having Father’s Day #1 recently! I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of Father’s Day, it’s great when being a Dad. Also, it has taught me to even further appreciate my own father, since I realize what it’s like to be one.

  3. Congrats on the first fathers day. I just celebrated mine as well and there are many things to think about now.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Loan Options for RetireesMy Profile

    • @Grayson – Congrats! It can definitely be overwhelming. It’s funny how everything shifts so quickly from making sure your baby has a clean diaper and is not hungry to thinking about them going to college.
      MoneyforCollegePro recently posted..My First Father’s DayMy Profile

  4. I’m not sure I would actually save money for my kids’ (if I ever have them) education. I paid for my own education and, if I had been rather smarter about it, I could have graduated debt free. And I’d be especially leery of a 529; what happens if they don’t go to college?
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Basic Car Maintenance You Can Perform YourselfMy Profile

    • @Edward – That is a legitimate question. Saving for your child’s college education is certainly a personal choice, and one I would never undertake if I did not already have a firm financial footing and was saving/investing for myself. And yes, unused 529 funds are subject to a 10% penalty if withdrawn for non-educational expenses.
      MoneyforCollegePro recently posted..How to Negotiate Your Financial Aid PackageMy Profile

  5. Congrats! I just celebrated my second father’s day and it’s really an awesome feeling. This is a great list too. We have a 529 for our son with Nevada’s plan (also through Vanguard) and we put his gift money there as well. I will say that I think it’s important, with your own contributions, to make sure your retirement is handled before college. It sounds like you guys have retirement accounts though, so that’s probably already taken care of.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Why Whole Life Insurance is a Bad InvestmentMy Profile

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