Can’t Save For College? It’s OK, Mommy. Try This:
Guest Post by Jeannie Burlowski.
What happens in the minute after a toddler first builds a block tower, and then knocks it over? His mom starts thinking about college.
Will this one be an engineer? A construction manager? A real estate developer? Might God call this little one to be a pastor, a Mercy Ships surgeon, or head of a missionary organization? How will we pay for the education necessary to get there, especially when our current budget doesn’t allow for any college savings?
One brilliant answer is to start very early on with just one non-saving strategy.
Today I’m featuring a guest post by Jeannie Burlowski, author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward. Chapter 3 of LAUNCH provides 11 strategies for parents of kids birth to age 12 who can’t save right now, but still want hope for the future and the exhilarating feeling of taking a giant leap forward toward getting kids through college debt-free.
Jeannie’s sharing one of those 11 non-saving strategies with us today, and I for one can’t wait to try it.
You’d be thrilled to have your child graduate from college with zero student loan debt, but how can you make that happen?
Fortunately, there are hundreds of viable strategies parents can use to bring college costs way down between birth and age 18, even if they can’t save a penny.
In my work as an academic strategist, author, and speaker, one of the first debt-free college strategies I share with parents is the free college savings program at UPromise.com.
Why? Because the earlier you start the better it works.
Before I tell you about UPromise, I must let you know: I get nothing for sharing this resource with you. I have no affiliate agreement with UPromise — nothing. I just think it’s one of the best ways in the world to accumulate college savings (or money for paying off student loans early!) without taking one dime out of a parent or student pocket.
HOW UPROMISE.COM WORKS
You’re going to buy necessities like groceries and drug store items anyway, right?
Sign up for a free account at UPromise.com, register your grocery and drug store loyalty cards there, and without your doing another thing a percentage of every dollar you spend at these stores will be funneled into a special account that you’ll be able to use for any student’s college savings, current college-related expenses, or payment of Sallie Mae® student loans.
Over 21,000 grocery and drug stores participate, and no credit card is required.
“THIS SOUNDS GREAT! HOW WILL I GET THE FREE MONEY OUT OF MY UPROMISE ACCOUNT?”
The money UPromise.com squirrels away for you won’t earn interest while it’s sitting in your UPromise account, but you can easily move funds out of your UPromise account into an interest-bearing account in one of four ways:
- Transfer the funds into a Sallie Mae® “High Yield” Savings Account that features no minimum balance, no monthly fees, a 10% annual match by UPromise on UPromise earnings, and — if you choose — automatic monthly transfers from your UPromise account (subject to $10 minimum transfer). This can be a good option if you want the funds to earn some small amount of interest, but you need them to be available for quick withdrawal.
- Invest your Upromise.com earnings directly into any student’s tax-deferred 529 college savings plan.
- Pay down any student’s existing Sallie Mae student loans using Promise Loan Link®, a free service that lets you automatically transfer $10 or more each month from your Promise account directly to the payment of eligible Sallie Mae® student loans.
- Request a check that can be invested for a student elsewhere, or used by any student you choose for college expenses.
HERE’S ONE ADDITIONAL GREAT STRATEGY FOR USING UPROMISE
Your childless relatives can save for your kids’ college using UPromise too.
Think about your uncle, the childless gourmet cook who travels extensively and goes online to buy all his clothes, electronics, contact lenses, office supplies, Apple® products, and cruise vacations, as well as the $70.00 specially compounded diethylstilbesterol (DES) urinary incontinence medication for his dog.
Even though he has no college-bound kids, this uncle can create a UPromise account too.
When he does, a percentage of every dollar he spends with UPromise merchants (including the fortune he’s spending at 1-800-PET-MEDS) will be funneled directly into a UPromise account in his name. At any time he can request that the funds in his UPromise account be distributed to students he wants to support.
If he chooses to, he can transfer a percentage of his UPromise account into the college savings plan of one niece, help pay off another niece’s Sallie Mae® student loans — he can even make a college tuition payment for some kid he just met at church. If you suggest UPromise to a relative like this, don’t worry that it’ll look like you’re asking him for money. UPromise costs him nothing, and when the time comes for him to give away the contents of his UPromise account, it’ll be completely up to him who he wants to give it to.
IF YOU USE UPROMISE, DO WATCH OUT FOR THIS ONE THING.
Upromise has a credit card that in some cases may add a small amount of additional cash to your Upromise account with each completed transaction. I don’t recommend signing up for this credit card, since it’s my mission to steer families away from credit card debt, not toward it.
A FUTURE AND A HOPE
There is no question — your little toddler will have a call of God on his or her life to do something that matters in this world. If college is a part of plan, you’ll feel great having leaped ahead early on strategies that will get your kids through college debt-free.
Jeannie Burlowski (JeannieBurlowski.com) is the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward. She’s a full time author, academic strategist, and speaker whose writing helps parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. She also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.