We all remember when we were children, and how exciting it was to find a quarter on the sidewalk, a monetary gift from the tooth fairy, or just pick up a few extra dollars doing chores. But how many of us are still paying off student loans, and wish we could have started saving for higher education back in the day when quarters and wrinkled dollar bills seemed like big money? How can students learn to save while in high school and when applying to college afterward?
Parents should teach children to save money for their future. However, parents can only do so much – the individual must learn how to do this for themselves. One way to make this more accessible is to turn saving money into a game. Now that you’re older, challenge yourself to set aside some amount of money — spare change or money from working part time in high school and before college. Use a ledger to help keep track of your funds. Having a written record of your savings helps put it all into perspective when it’s right in front of you. Also, taking the time to write down deposits into your savings account will help you have a greater appreciation for your money and what you’re saving for.
Dreams and Education
What do you want to do? Become a veterinarian? Game designer? Become a mechanic or musician? Browse college and technical school websites to investigate different programs and classes that are offered by schools you’re interested in attending. This will help you see how your education will help you reach those goals — and just how much that education will cost. This will help put it all into perspective and connect the process of saving and applying to schools that you’re interested in attending.
Advanced Degree, More Saving
According to FinAid.org, if parents begin saving in a fund that gives at least 5% interest, over 17 years they can accrue almost $35,000 — nearly enough for the average MBA — just by putting aside $25 a week from birth. Whether you plan to get an online master’s degree in public administration or an MFA from a top liberal arts university, saving for an advanced degree such as a master’s takes particularly careful planning. If you’re old enough to know if you want to pursue a master’s degree, and old enough to get an after-school job, you’re old enough to help contribute to those savings your parents have started for you.
Don’t Count on Financial Aid
Even if a student is eligible for financial aid, they could be picked for verification or experience some other delay in receiving their award. Thousands of students every year find themselves having to pay out of pocket to secure their classes until their financial aid comes through. As you get older, understand that it is important to not only complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but to have funds to pay for your tuition just in case financial aid is delayed or denied.
Students can help themselves learn the principles of going without to be able to save for their future to make it that much brighter and more accessible.
This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.