Stretching your Dollar: How to start saving for college

Stretching your dollar for college funds

TOLEDO (WTOL) - The average cost of college tuition is more than $34,000 for private colleges, and almost $10,000 for public colleges, if they’re in-state.

It can add up to a lot of money to invest.

Many of us want our kids to go to college, and most people don’t have the means to rely on a trust fund.

There is something you can do, a little at a time, to build toward the future.

It used to be that your great aunt would order you a savings bond that would mature over time.

Those high interest rates are a thing of the past, and that type of giving has become less common in recent years, in part because the rate of return is lower and can vary. A lot has changed with interest rates and the market, even just over the past 10 years.

But here is what you can do you for your child or grandchild’s future:

“You make what you can, and I didn’t have a lot given to me in my future, so I want to give everything I can to him,” said dad, Ryan Meek.

He and his wife have a little boy and another on the way any day now.

He is like many of us, looking at the high expense of college education and wondering; how am I going to make this happen?

Marty Sutter, President and CEO of Genoa Bank, gave some advice tailored to any financial situation.

“There’s no right or wrong in what plan you do. What’s wrong is not starting it. Be disciplined. Start. Come up with a game plan. Sit down with a financial representative, your banker, and come up with a plan," he said.

Here's some tips you can use no matter where the decimal point of your paycheck falls.

  • As Marty said, stay disciplined. No matter how much you put aside, as long as you regularly make deposits, it can add up to a lot.
  • Start early, and, It’s never too late to begin. Of course, the sooner you get started, the less stressed you’ll be to make up for lost time when those tuition bills roll in.
  • Try to keep those regular deposits within your means. Obviously, you want to ease the financial burden in the future, but you don’t want to overextend yourself now. If you make sure you have enough cash to cover your daily needs, you won’t be tempted to dip into the money you worked hard to save, and stray from your good intentions.

“The biggest thing that holds a lot of people back is they think they’ve got to have a lot of money to do it. They don’t. You know, if you only make a $100 and you put $5 or $10 in, that works. And, there are so many stories in life with people that didn’t make a tremendous amount of money, but had a tremendous amount of wealth at the end for their grandkids, for their kids, for whatever because they were disciplined in their savings patterns,” Sutter said. “We don’t do the best job in our country to initiate and teach people: save.”

Experts say, start simple.

Open a free savings account and have an automatic deposit come straight out of your paycheck, so you never even miss that money.

If, after a while, that system is working for you, then consider moving those funds to a Certificate of Deposit (commonly called a CD) or try a 529-college account to maximize your benefits.

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