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Easy College Savings Tips

Lisett Comai-Legrand

Lisett Comai-Legrand About The Author

Jun 1, 2017 7:26:00 PM

Going to college is a major event in your life that will impact where you work, your salary and even where you live. It's also unbelievably expensive. In 2023, the average cost of tuition for in-state students was $28,210 for a four-year university and over $10,000 more for out-of-state students. 

That's a lot of money for anyone to pay. Fortunately, since saving for college is typically a long-term financial goal, you'll have several years to set aside money for it. Even better, you can use the following easy college savings tips to make setting aside money for college less stressful.

Here's how to start saving for college

Easy college saving tips

Save Early and Often

Parents should start saving for college the day their baby is born, if not earlier.  If you're a parent and you haven't already started saving for college, make a goal to start as soon as possible, and save as often as you can. The sooner you start, the more you can take advantage of compounding to watch your savings grow. It will also help you get into the habit of saving.

If you don't think you can afford to save, start small. You'll get used to living without the money you're saving, and you can gradually increase the amount you're setting aside.

You might not feel like you're saving as much as you should when you start small, but don't worry about it. The compounding of interest over time will help your savings grow. The first step is to get into the habit of saving.

Save Regularly

Rather than save money at random intervals, try to make putting money into a college fund a regular habit. If you can save with the same frequency as you receive your paycheck, you will find it easier to get into the habit of saving.

One of the best ways to make saving regular is to make it automatic. Sign up for payroll deduction or ask your credit union to automatically move money from your checking account to your savings account every month.

You should be aware, though, that a savings account isn't your only option when saving for college. You can also get a Coverdell education savings account at many credit unions, including First Alliance, and it offers many benefits, including the ability to fund it with pre-tax dollars.

Start saving for college with First Alliance Credit Union

Open an Account

Create a SMART Goal

A SMART savings goal is one of the best ways to reach any financial goal, including saving for college. A SMART goal is: 

  • Specific--How much do you want to save for college? 
  • Measurable--How will you measure your progress? 
  • Attainable--Where will I find the money to save for college?
  • Realistic--Is saving for college possible with your current finances?
  • Time-Bound--When do you expect to complete your goal? 

Once you've figured out the answers to these questions, you'll have a roadmap that shows you how much you'll need to save for college, lets you know where you'll get the money to put aside and even let you know that your goal is realistic. All that's left is to put that plan into action.

Invest any Windfalls

If you should get a windfall, such as an inheritance, winning the lottery, a large income tax refund, or a bonus at work, consider putting it toward your college savings fund. 

How to start saving for college

Increase the amount you save each year

Try to increase the total amount you save each year by at least 5%. So if you save $100 a month this year, you should save at least $105 a month next year. This will help your savings keep up with the college tuition inflation rate. One good way to remember this is to increase the amount of money you save every time you get a raise. 

Got questions about saving for college? Ask us!

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Prepare for College With First Alliance Credit Union 

There's no getting around the fact that college is expensive, but you can at least use some easy savings tips to make the process less stressful. Remember to save early and often, and regularly set aside money from your paycheck. You can also make saving for college a SMART goal to give yourself a roadmap that you can then put into action.

You can also get help saving for college when you become a member of First Alliance Credit Union. You'll be able to use direct deposit to put part of your paycheck into a dedicated savings account or Coverdell education savings account, and you can use our free, downloadable SMART goals packet to create your own financial goal. You can even use our online banking platform and mobile app to keep track of your progress and transfer any extra money to your account.

We do our best to provide helpful information but we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article, under no circumstance does the information provided constitute legal advice. You are responsible for independently verifying the information if you intend to use it in any way. Additionally, the content is not intended to be reflective of First Alliance Credit Union’s products or services, for accurate and complete details about our product and service information you must speak to an advisor at First Alliance Credit Union.