Pennies for the Future

I am the person who will stop the flow of foot, bicycle, and vehicular traffic on a dime just to stoop down to pick up a penny off the ground. Why? Because of this guy...


Pennies add up, and they will hopefully pay for at least one of his textbooks in college…I hope.

As much as we dream that his smarts and hard work will earn him scholarships to college, and eventually land him a great job he’ll love, we know that we’ll still be needing a lot of money to cover the cost of his college education. Let’s face it. If the price of coffee continues to rise, you can bet the price of education will continue to rise as well.

Besides picking coins up off the street, I set the rule in our family (WHEN WE STARTED THE PROCESS OF GETTING PREGNANT) that any coins and $1 bills that land in our possession get thrown in a jar. When the money reaches the top, we roll the coins, stack the bills, and make a deposit into his savings account. Any checks he is given for the holidays and his birthdays are also deposited into his savings account, and when that amount reaches $1,000, I withdraw a few hundred dollars and make a deposit into his custodial account to invest in stocks.

I actually have a plan.

Another step I know we need to take is to open a 529 Plan to save money for his college education. The beauty of the 529 Plan is that the growth and withdrawn funds are not taxed by the federal government as long as they are used to pay for qualifying college expenses. Brilliant!

I started researching 529 plans online and immediately grew frustrated. Luckily, the daunting task of finding the best plan for our family was quickly minimized when I found that ( had already done the research not just for me, but for you as well. They provide a beautiful and easy-to-grasp Cliffs Notes version of the various 529 Plans, they do all of the leg-work metrics for determining which are the top plans to invest in, and THEY ALSO EXPLAIN WHY. It was a godsend.

Probably the best advice I received while reading through their info ( is that it is absolutely important to save money for our son’s college education early, but it’s imperative that we are able to contribute monthly to our retirement, and have paid off our own debt, before doing so. The simple explanation for this is that, “while students can borrow to pay for college, you can’t borrow to pay for retirement (”

That stuck with me. I needed to read that. The info they provided, when printed, is 38-pages. I read that great advice on page 15…which is when I stopped reading and checked on my credit card balances. Damn. I have some work to do. It’s also helpful that updates their info (, so I confidently know that when we have paid off our credit card debt, I can return to their website and find out what the best researched 529 Plan is and why.

For now, the coins and $1 bills will have to do for his college savings fund. Even a small amount of money saved will help in the long-run.