Monday, September 12, 2011

Start Them Young If You Want To Raise Savers And Not Spenders

ceramic piggy bankImage via WikipediaThe most common way to save for college is 529 college savings plans. Mom and Dad dutifully scrimp and save for 18 years till junior is ready for college and hopefully there is enough in the account to cover college costs. For many families money is tight and the amount saved is not as much as hoped for. We are going to be living in this reduced economy for some time to come so things have to change.

A family financial crisis or success is always a good chance to teach personal finance to your children. Why not use the saving for college as one of these lessons. Some parents feel bad if they can't provide for their kids as they wish they could but again this is a lesson, the kids of the family should learn, for their own benefit.

I have been watching locally and nationally the problems pension and retirement funds are having. Municipalities, the Post Office, and unions are having an increasingly harder time fulfilling pension payments because of reduced revenue. The only way to make these plans work is for employees to make a larger contribution out of their own pocket. This relates to the troubles families have funding college costs and saving for retirement. The recipients of the college funds, your kids, are going to have to make a larger contribution to its success.

The value to saving is a lesson lost in many families. Some families are bringing their children up in an environment of material consumption. Those days are over if you want to have a funded college savings account. Getting the kids involved is key. That means when they receive money as gifts or from working, some of that money has to go toward their college education costs. That means it has to be saved and not spent on the latest electronic gadget. A hard thing to do in todays society.

The 529 college savings plan is a good option, but there are other ways to teach the kids to save:

Roth IRAs:

You can open a custodial Roth IRA for your child no matter how old they are and only if they show some earned income, even if it's from washing cars. Even if they don't make enough to file an income tax you must still keep records. You don't get a deduction from your Roth but you do get to withdraw tax free at retirement. This year, the contribution is limited to the lesser of the individual's income from work or $5,000. it's never to early to put some money away for retirement.

Coverdells:

These accounts are similar to 529s in that they enable investors to accumulate money tax-free to pay for qualifying education expenses. Investors typically can pick from a much wider range of investments than with a 529 plan, though the annual contribution is limited to $2,000 per child. Coverdells, unlike 529s, also may be used to pay for qualifying expenses from kindergarten through high school. Some families use Coverdells to complement a 529.

UGMA/UTMA accounts:

Accounts set up under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act involve an irrevocable gift of cash or securities made to a minor and managed by a custodian. Account earnings are taxable, and income over certain minimums may be taxed at the parents' rate rather than the child's.

Saving for the future is not something kids look at with pleasure. They have to be taught it is a part of a life long way of life. Even for me saving is a sacrifice, but it will be one that pays off in the future.



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