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

Starting IS Believing, but FINISHING is Achieving

Place this one in the “you had one job” files …

Wayne asked me to pick up several items for dinner, and sent this list:

Prepaid College Tuition

I dutifully picked up the items I saw on the list, rechecking it several times, before picking my son up from an event and returning home. Several hours later, Wayne, who had been out, called before returning home to say “let’s go over the ingredients one more time” before he made the pasta recipe he had planned.

Him: “Did you get the butter?”

Me: The butter? That wasn’t on the list.

Him: I’m pretty sure I put it on the list.

Me (after glancing at the list): Oh no, it was on the list.

Fortunately, he had an opportunity to pick up the butter at the last moment, saving our menu from missing a critical ingredient (hooray!)

Sometimes, there are things on our lists that we have inadvertently neglected to do, and we are able to save check those things off before losing the opportunity.

There’s Another “Last Chance” Looming

I have been fortunate to be a Believer Blogger for Florida Prepaid for the past two years. During this open enrollment period, we’ve discussed expanding possibilities, turning dreams into realities, and the power of a Prepaid plan. Open enrollment ends February 29, so if you have been considering signing up for a Florida Prepaid plan for your child or a child you care about, it truly is time to check this task off the list.

Do You Still Have Concerns?

I know that your decisions about your family’s finances are personal and challenging. If you’re anything like us, you are juggling the expenses of necessities while trying to squeeze in some wants that make everyone happy!

I also know that it is easy for myths and misconceptions to exist about a program like Florida Prepaid. For example, many Floridians think it is not possible to use a prepaid plan at an out-of-state or private college. Fortunately, that’s not true.

Although prepaid plans are designed to be used at Florida Colleges or State Universities, the value of the plans can be used at other schools nationwide. Whether you pick a public, private, in-state or out-of-state school, the program pays the same as they would pay a Florida School. Our family is proof, because Tenley has used Florida Prepaid at Valdosta State University in Georgia!

Checking Prepaid Off the List

Ready to take action? Here’s what you need to know!

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

As I mentioned, enrollment ends on February 29, 2016, and my fellow Believer Bloggers like Working Mom Magic,  Raising Whasians, Mindy’s Fitness Journey, and I are eager to make sure as many children in Florida as possible can benefit from the current low prices and the variety of options available.

To sweeten the pot, I am offering a $10 gift card to Amazon, Starbucks, or Target (winner’s choice) to one of my readers who helps get the word out! The winner also gets a bonus green pen imbued with all kinds of optimistic mojo :-).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ps: dinner (WITH the butter) turned out great! Phew!

Prepaid College Tuition

Prepaid College Tuition

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

Florida Prepaid: Expanding Possibilities

“Why are you taking a picture of the BATHROOM?”

I didn’t know my daughter was paying that much attention during a recent hotel stay. I guess she heard the “click” as I grabbed a snap of the bathroom during our recent hotel stay. I am in the habit of taking pictures of hotel rooms as soon as I arrive (before they get messed up) so that I can share them when I review the hotel on Tripadvisor after my stay.

Florida Prepaid: Expanding Possibilities

I go to the extra effort to record the details of my room and eventually share a review, because I know how much it has helped me to read honest reviews of hotels and attractions when I am planning trips.

It kind of works the same way with Florida Prepaid. Because I am benefiting so much from the fact that my parents purchased prepaid contracts for my children when they were newborns, I want to share ways in which the plan has given our family peace of mind as well as the ways the plan has changed and improved since my parents bought plans for my children who are now 16 and 19.

What is Florida Prepaid?

The Florida Legislature created the Florida Prepaid College Program in 1987 to provide Florida families with an affordable means to save for their children’s future college education. The first Florida Prepaid College Plans were sold in 1988, and were augmented with the addition of the Florida 529 Savings Plan in 2002.

My Child is in Middle School — Is It Too Late?

It’s not too late! A Prepaid Plan can be purchased for a child in 11th grade or below! The 2015/16 open enrollment prices were just released. Prices remain extremely affordable, and have been calculated in alignment with the 2014 Florida law that reduces the maximum annual increase of the Tuition Differential Fee to six percent for preeminent State Universities and zero percent for all other State Universities. For details on pricing, please click here.

Florida Prepaid: Expanding Possibilities

The Future is So Unpredictable — Who Can Answer My “What-Ifs”?

The hotel trip that resulted in the “bathroom picture” conversation actually points up all the unpredictability of life with a college student. Little did I know when Tenley enrolled at Valdosta State University in August of 2014 that she would be headed to Orlando in January 2016 to participate in the Disney College Program (this trip was for an audition related to her placement within the program). It is a relief to know that her Florida Prepaid benefits are good for ten years from the time she enrolled in college.

The Florida Prepaid FAQ section has answers to pretty much any question you have. Visit it here or call 1.800.552.GRAD (4723) for help.

Our Family Budget Has So Many Demands — Why Should I Add One More?

To return back to the “bathroom picture” trip, one thing that has struck me as my daughter began driving, and now that my son is driving, is how much more rested I feel when I arrive at my destination when I don’t have the demands of doing all the driving. Similarly, I am thankful every single day that the burden of financing my children’s higher education is lighter because my parents invested in Florida Prepaid and by doing so lifted part of my load.

Having Florida Prepaid for my children makes it so much easier to dream of all the possibilities which lie ahead for them!

Florida Prepaid: Expanding Possibilities

For More Information on Florida Prepaid:

Web: click here

Facebook: click here

Twitter: click here

Phone: call 1.800.552.GRAD (4723)

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

Don’t Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

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

Don't Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

A friend of mine has a new baby daughter, and friends throughout the nation are donating books to the library at his town’s elementary school in her honor. When I went to buy the books I am donating, I went to our Barnes and Noble here in Tallahassee because they are participating in a statewide book fair benefiting the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

I chose a Poky Little Puppy book because that little puppy always pulled at my heartstrings. I chose Flat Stanley because I loved doing Flat Stanley with my kids. And I chose Who Was Anne Frank? because it was The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank that first opened my eyes to the lessons of the Holocaust and instilled my drive to become a woman who believed, like Anne, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

My friend’s daughter will, in a blink, find herself moving on from the Poky Little Puppy to these books as she prepares for college:

Don't Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

As I wrote in my first Blogger Believer post, because my parents bought a Florida Prepaid plan for my daughter when she was a newborn, our family had the security of knowing that her tuition would be paid for when she enrolled at Valdosta State University.

As the February 28 deadline to purchase a Florida Prepaid College plan approaches, please take a minute to consider these two action steps if you are a Florida resident with a child in your life who plans to go to college.

Enter The Florida Prepaid Scholarship Giveaway by February 18!

The Florida Prepaid College Foundation is having a scholarship giveaway!  Ten winners will each receive a 1-Year Florida University Plan. You can enter the giveaway daily via this link. Don’t be poky like the little puppy; enter by February 18!

Enroll in the Florida Prepaid College Plan by February 28!

Open enrollment closes on February 28, 2015. Prices are currently the lowest they have been since 2007. There are five plans from which to choose, including a new 1-Year Florida University Plan costing as little as $43 a month for a newborn.

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

Now that Tenley is a freshman in college and Wayne is a sophomore in high school, I miss the days of the Poky Little Puppy, learning about the world through Flat Stanley, and helping my kids navigate those first forays into history. As a family, we have turned the page on that time of our lives.

If your child’s education plan has unwritten chapters, consider a Florida Prepaid Plan for a happy ending.

Don't Be Poky About College Tuition Planning

The Gift of Security

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

prepaid college

Photo Credit: Sarah Stephens Photography

At 18 months, my daughter Tenley had the security of a favorite stuffed animal. At 17 years, she was poised to enroll as a freshman at Valdosta State University, with her tuition already taken care of through the Florida Prepaid College Plan.

My parents bought the Florida Prepaid College Plan for Tenley with a lump sum payment of around $7,000 when she was an infant. That investment will result in approximately $32,000 worth of college education. The ultimate security.  

A Grandparent’s Gift

When I asked him about his choice to purchase Florida Prepaid College Plans for my children when they were infants, my dad said, “I am not a financial genius; however, I was fortunate enough to have the money to invest in our grandchildren’s future.”

Maybe it isn’t genius level to make such a stellar and long-lasting investment, but it is certainly smart if you ask me!

More About Florida Prepaid

The Florida Prepaid College Plan kicked off Open Enrollment on October 15. The Open Enrollment period closes on February 28, 2015. There are two incredible new changes this year:

  • Prices are at their lowest point since 2007 (as much as 50% lower)!
  • There is a NEW 1-Year Florida University Plan with a monthly payment of $43.30 for newborns.

In addition, the $50 application fee for newly opened plans will be waived through December 31, 2014!

Although my parents chose the lump sum option and started when Tenley and Wayne were infants, there are a variety of payment plans for children of all ages. (And payments don’t begin until April 2015.)

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

I am a Blogger Believer because a Florida Prepaid College Plan has been one of the primary factors in securing my children’s future.

What are your dreams for your child’s future?

prepaid college

 

The Sisters She Never Had and More

— 1 —

 POSTPONE NOTHING.

I heard this sentiment expressed in a public radio interview featuring Lynne and Tom Martin, authors of Home Sweet Anywhere. (This WidowsList.com interview with Lynne discusses the “postpone nothing” philosophy the couple adopted when they decided to sell their home, “disburse their belongings,” and see the world.)   It is a two-word phrase that says so much more. I concur. Utterly.

home sweet anywhere

— 2 —

When Just Getting To Know Your Massage Therapist …

Sunday, I had a lovely massage from Michelle Butler, LMT. We had mutual acquaintances, so we had a great chat during the massage and immediately Facebook friended each other afterwards. Fast forward to a few hours later when my husband texted “need scallions” to me right after I checked out at Publix and was loading the car. I wasn’t dying to return to the store. Too bad I sent my angry emoji to Michelle instead of to Wayne. OOOOOPSSSS!

Michelle Text

I quickly realized my mistake and corrected it (yes I did send Wayne the same emoji!) but that was embarrassing!

 

— 3 —

“Clear on the right.”

sign

It is funny how things work out. When I first requested to be considered for Elizabeth Flora Ross’s “The Writer Revived” Summer Series, I had my choice of weeks. Once I had dragged my feet getting back to her, the only week left was the last week of summer. It turns out I needed a summer of driving my father-in-law around to have this piece in me. Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing it (the picture above is the three-way stop I refer to in the piece).

Please click here to read “The Ride” and to understand the reference to “clear on the right.”

— 4 —

When It’s Right to Lean Left

I competed in my Toastmaster Club’s “Evaluation” and “Humorous Speech” contests. It’s always a great experience (as well as slightly nervewracking) to compete. I came in second in both. My humorous speech was based on a true-life situation I encountered in El Salvador. I would love feedback about what works for you as a listener and what doesn’t!

 

— 5 —

All Those Tenleys!

We got the group photo in from our July 19 “Tenley Party.” I love it! (Tenley Albright is in the center (black dress, pink flowers). My Tenley is in the third row, seated in front of a young woman in red and white stripes.

Photo Credit: Ellen Rogers Photography

Photo Credit: Ellen Rogers Photography

 

— 6 —

Sisterhood.

When I got the text from my daughter that she had received a bid from the sorority she wanted, I was in a movie theater and had just glanced down at my phone to check the time. Therefore I couldn’t do anything except take in the information quickly ….. and tear up. She will be pledging the Delta Theta Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi at Valdosta State University. I have never had sisters and was not in a sorority. The prospect of her being part of a sisterhood, especially if it gives her the lifelong bond that my adult friends who were part of sororities still share, makes me exquisitely happy.

Having Sisters

Tenley (left) on bid day!

(AND for item 6.5, she declared a major … PUBLIC RELATIONS!)

 

— 7 —

This phrase, though.  

Any other language fans out there? I keep seeing this construction all over social media:

This [insert object], though. For example, a cute baby with gorgeous blue eyes might get “those eyes, though.” I get what the writer is intending. Where did it come from? A movie? A book? Clue me in!

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!