Make Your Initial Investments Wisely

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

Monograms: They are enormously popular here in North Florida.

I see monograms on ANYTHING that will fit three letters these days: dresses, athletic tanks, headbands, thermal mugs, boots, umbrellas, Yeti coolers, pacifier holders, burp cloths, blankets, license plates, windshield decals, iPhone home buttons (?), Chuck Taylors … the list is infinite.

Back in the year 2000, when Tenley was 3, monogramming was quite popular among other moms (and kids) but not to the extent it is now. Still, I spent a disproportionately large amount of money on a monogrammed dress for her. The company, which did shows in people’s homes, had compelling arguments: it was well made (true), stylish (true), individual to her because of the personalization (true), and had a deep enough hem that I could continue letting it out as she grew.

The only thing I have left of that dress is a picture.

College Financing

Although some families are flush enough income-wise to spend liberally on children’s clothing and invest in a future beyond preschool, we really weren’t able to do both at the time. It would have been wiser to put that money toward her college education instead and eliminate the need for our family and Tenley to incur student loan debt as we are doing now..

(Note: if you’ve been reading my Believer Blogger posts for a while, you know my parents were more farsighted than I was and bought my kids prepaid plans when they were newborns (thanks, parents!) but if they had not done that, it would have been on my husband and me. I also believe I should have invested in 529 plans to pay for expenses beyond tuition such as books, fees, and housing.)

If you are still on the fence about investing in the Florida Prepaid Plan for your child or a child you care about, consider this before Open Enrollment ends on February 28.

Calculating the Cost of College

I used the Florida Prepaid Cost of Waiting College Savings Calculator to see what parents of a 3 year old today should anticipate regarding college savings:

College Financing

According to the “results” chart below:

  • Based on these inputs, the cost of waiting just one year to start saving for your college goal is estimated to be $79 per month
  • Every year you delay, it costs you more to save the same amount of money for college
  • Four years of college could cost you over $206,000 fifteen years from now. You could save 100% of the projected cost by putting aside $774 a month, if you earn a 5% annual return for fourteen years.
  • If you wait just one year to start saving, the monthly cost goes up to $853 to save the same amount of money over 15 years.

College Financing

All Those Facts and Figures. What is the Bottom Line?

The bottom line is this: the things you think matter so much now may be a lot less important down the road.

The Florida Prepaid College program, with more options than ever including a one-year Florida university plan, a 2+2 Florida plan taking advantage of our fabulous community college system, and a dormitory plan, is something to think about now. Even putting it off until next year could be costly.

Take it from me; what I should have had monogrammed was a bank, not a dress.

College Financing

A Head Start

With the code BLOG1617, you can save 50% off of the $50 application fee!

College Financing

For More Information

Visit the Florida Prepaid College Plan by clicking here for information. If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, please call 800-552-GRAD (4723).

College Financing

Florida 529 Savings Plans are Big!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

Eight dollars and ninety-seven cents. 

Florida 529 Savings Plans

I am not proud of the fact that this is the balance of my college sophomore’s Florida 529 Savings Plan.

Years ago, I opened a Florida 529 Savings Plan for her at a time when my employer was offering to match my contributions. When our family experienced several financial challenges (too much debt compounded by job loss), I stopped making contributions to the account and withdrew most of what had accumulated, since we were in survival mode.

529 Savings Plans Fill Gaps

To be clear, we were ahead of the college finance game compared to many Florida families. We were extremely fortunate that my parents had generously purchased Florida Prepaid contracts for our children when they were infants (more on that here and here).

Two years into my daughter’s college experience at Valdosta State University, though, and just over a year before my youngest child graduates from high school, I think often of the additional “breathing room” I would have if I had kept up my Florida 529 Savings Plan contributions (and unlocked my employer’s matching contributions). We could have avoided the student loan debt we have incurred.

By “breathing room,” I mean expenses like:

  • tuition
  • mandatory fees
  • room and board
  • textbooks and supplies
  • computers
  • other equipment that is required for enrollment

One small hurdle when I opened my children’s Florida 529 Savings Plan accounts was the minimum required contribution. The Florida Prepaid College Board has removed the minimum contribution requirement. You could start with, for example, $8.97.

How is a Florida 529 Savings Plan Different from a Prepaid Plan?

  • Unlike Prepaid Plans, the Florida 529 Savings Plan does not have a set payment amount or schedule.
  • A family can contribute as much or as often as desired, and accounts can be opened at any time. There is no minimum contribution to open a Florida 529 Savings account, and there are no application fees.
  • The biggest difference between the two is that the Florida 529 Savings Plan is subject to fluctuations in the financial markets, while the Prepaid Plan are is guaranteed by the State of Florida.
  • There are 11 investment strategy options, including an age-based option that gets more conservative as the beneficiary gets closer to college age.

To learn more about Florida 529 Savings Plans and the Prepaid Plan, please click here.

Opening a Florida 529 Savings Plan is Simple

If you don’t have a Florida 529 Savings Plan already, click here to start!

You Could Win a $529 Scholarship!

The Florida 529 Savings Plan Scholarship Program is new! In conjunction with 529 College Savings Day (observed on May 29!), it will award 10 winners a $529 Scholarship deposited into a Florida 529 Savings Plan account. Families can enter to win between May 1 and May 29, 2016 via this link!

Only legal residents of the state of Florida who are currently over the age of 18 are eligible to enter. Winners will be selected from among all eligible entries via a random drawing to be conducted on June 1, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

A Lesson Learned

I wish the balance on my daughter’s 529 Savings Plan was $897, $8097, or more instead of $8.97, but it is not. If you are at an earlier stage of planning for your child’s college expenses, I simply urge you to consider the role a 529 Savings Plan can have for you.

If nothing else, go for the scholarship!

Florida 529 Savings Plans

 

Motivation-Monday

The POWER of a Florida PrePaid Plan

What comes to mind when you think of “power generation”? Frankly, I usually just think of power generation when it doesn’t work following a thunderstorm or some other technical problem.

I have had more opportunities than usual to think about power generation lately.

My friend Linda Pulley Freeman initiated and implement the #KidPower2015 project, which utilized bicycle generators to make power. The project didn’t just use bicycle generators to make power; it used the process to help children of incarcerated parents bond with their parents and it helped residents of Cambodia have power at the Light of Future School.

Linda Dad

Photo credit: Linda Pulley Freeman #KidPower2015

Another friend has been talking about the potential of extremely large scale batteries. These batteries could have a role in replacing traditional power supplies in towns and cities, saving money and reducing adverse environmental effects. (Here’s an article about these batteries and here’s one more link; I don’t pretend to understand it all!).

When I go to Cape Canaveral next week to observe the launch of the Orbital ATK OA-4, I anticipate learning about the power required to launch a space station re-supply shipment.

Power for Education

As the Open Enrollment Period for the Florida Prepaid Tuition Program nears its mid-point, I am writing to remind you that you have the power to make a difference for the future of a child in your life, by purchasing a Florida Prepaid Tuition Plan for them.

Florida Prepaid offers five distinct ways to superpower your child’s future. They all include tuition and most fees at either one of 28 Florida Colleges or 12 State Universities. Though each option is designed to be used at a Florida College or State University, the amount covered by the plan can also be applied to other schools nationwide. For example, my daughter’s Florida Prepaid plan benefits are applied to her tuition at Valdosta State University, which charges in-state tuition for Florida residents despite being in Georgia.

A Power Boost Via A Giveaway!

I am excited to have these awesome Florida Prepaid goodies to share with one fortunate reader. The backpack, tshirt, water bottle, pencil pouch, and Florida Prepaid pen are all reminders of the huge impact planning ahead can have on a child’s life! (The Green Pen is a bonus and the only one among the Florida Prepaid Believer Bloggers!)

FullSizeRender (4)

For a chance to win this Florida Prepaid swag, please comment below by noon ET on December 11. I will choose a winner from among the comments using random.org (please make sure I have your email address so I can reach you. This giveaway is limited to United States residents.)

Airplane Mom

With the right kind of power now, a child in your life can soar high into a promising future!

To learn more, click here or call 1.800.552.GRAD (4723)! If you purchase a plan, please provide the code BLOG1516 for a special gift.

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

This post was inspired by a Mama Kat Writing Prompt: Write a blog post inspired by the word “power.”

KAT