At my house, going back to school feels a lot like the holiday season. There is power in the air! Our daughter and son are looking forward to reuniting with their friends and meeting their new teachers, and my husband and I look forward to a more consistent family routine.
Although we are all excited, we also feel a little anxious. The thought of balancing new expectations, homework and sports activities may seem overwhelming. Take the checklist – it’s one of my favorite ways to stay calm in the chaos.
The list I made this year (see below) provides practical tips on staying organized and planning for the future. I hope it provides legitimacy so that you know that you are not the only one who threatens to go to school on target!
Even if your kids are too young for school this year, keep this list in mind. It is not too early to establish positive habits, including savings for the future.
Now: Before school starts
These activities have focused on keeping our family organized. I want to build good family habits now so we will all be ready to handle the busy schedule and various responsibilities in and out of high school.
- Find out where everyone should be – and at what time. Work behind the scenes to find out when each family member should be awake and out the door.
- Make sure the kids have everything they need for the school year, from the lunch box to the 3-ring binder.
- Make sure the kids know their own schedule, starting from the bus routine to special turns like music and art.
- Set up a place to keep schoolwork, assignments, and supplies (to help run homework smoothly).
- Place a family calendar in a central location. Track day offs, holidays, vacations, outdoor activities, work trips, and more. We dedicate one hour each weekend to reviewing the upcoming week as a family.
- Some school work agrees on “best practice” and family responsibilities. For example, my daughter agrees to do her homework and chores before her screen time.
Later: Throughout the year
Like most parents, we worry about money all year round – for better or for worse. But towards the end of the summer, when we are surrounded by the necessary advertisements for school-house hangouts and dormitory rooms, we really begin to evaluate how much we are saving for education. Our top priority is investing for leisure, but this is not our only priority. We want to create a solid emergency fund and be able to contribute to our kids ’college savings accounts.
Checklists also help us plan our family financial goals. (For expert help in identifying your goals and creating a plan to achieve them, consider financial advice.)
- Pay off high-interest, short-term debt that is not tax-deductible (credit card or furniture or car loans).
Save for emergencies
- Save $ 2,000 or more in cash Emergency funds.
- Save enough fluid to cover 3 to 6 months of living expenses – Money that you can easily access Have it could be money that is invested in your non-retirement account or Roth IRA contribution for long term goals.
- Save another month’s living costs by storing fluids as an additional buffer.
Save for education
- Open a 529 account for each child.
- Set a goal for contributions (Vanguard College Savings Planners can help). Remember, most families do not cover 100% of the cost of college.
Education savings – the latest but not the least
As parents, we have many priorities to fight financially and otherwise and saving for education is certainly an important issue. According to How America College Paid for 2021, 58% of families – the highest percentage in the last 14 years – have plans to pay for college. *
Save on The Vanguard 529 plan and get more.
When it comes to learning, our kids naturally play long games: studying size today and geometry tomorrow. We take a similar approach to education savings. We save what we can, celebrate small victories (such as enrolling in automated investments) and think long-term.
Although hard for me to believe, my daughter will be ready for college in 7 years. If we save $ 60 a month for the next 7 years, we’ll save more than $ 5,000 – and that’s not even factoring in an investment return. This money can cover half the cost of an annual tuition in a public, 4-year in-state college or more than 4 years worth of books and supplies. **
If the idea of saving is irresistible or you fear losing your investment year-round, consider the following tips to increase your savings:
- Invest automatically. Most 529 plans, including The Vanguard 529 plan, offer this feature.
- If you invest in a 529 plan, use Ugift to invite friends and family to contribute to your child’s 529 account for holidays, birthdays and special events.
- Share and win your savings goals: Take the amount you plan to spend on your child for the holidays or birthdays and divide it by 3. Spend two-thirds of that amount on gifts now and invest one-third for their education.
- Plan to invest a percentage of whatever bonus or tax return you receive for education.
You got it
The season of going back to school can bring feelings of excitement and excitement-as well as stress and anxiety. Being organized and ready can help you stay calm so you can navigate today’s challenges (finding the perfect first-day school uniform) while preparing for tomorrow (paying tuition bills).
* Source: Sally Maye, How America Makes Money for College 2021.
** Source: Trends in College Board, College Pricing and Student Aid 2020 A-year school average full-time, campus graduates are estimated to have spent 1, 1,240 on books and supplies in the 2019-2020 academic year.
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