by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
It’s never too early to start saving and raising money if you want to go to college. Grants, loans and scholarships are available to those who qualify but the more you can provide for yourself the less you’ll owe when you finally walk across the stage for your diploma.
Saving money is probably the best way to prepare for the expense of college. Start early because it’s doubtful you’ll save too much. One year at a state supported school can cost about $20,000 or more and double that at private institutions. These estimated costs rise every year.
Let’s assume you start a savings account when you (or your baby) are born and you set aside $29 a month for the education fund. You have 18 years before he or she begins college so there’s no rush right? If you can find a 5% interest rate and faithfully contribute to it every month you’ll have $10,000 in your sock in 18 years. It’s a good start but far from enough.
The later you start the more you would have to invest to even reach the $10,000 goal. So, you not only want to begin as early as possible but invest as much as you can as well. Strive to up your monthly contribution to at least $100.
Things to consider when you invest include risk, return, liquidity and time. Certainly do not risk your education fund money in a high-risk investment even though you may earn more. You may also lose the principal. Even though you earn less you incur less risk. You want minimum risk and maximum return. Find a financial advisor you trust and listen.
Keep your funds liquid, in other words easily accessible.
An emergency could arise and you want easy access to your money without suffering a penalty. And, determine how much time you have to save. You can’t reach your goal if you don’t have ample time.
Have a movie night at your home or other location and ask for donations.
Let the people you invite know the money will go toward your education fund. Make it a fun night. Decorate with the appropriate movie theme and serve (inexpensive) refreshments such as popcorn and sodas. A homemade movie would work and may even be better if it’s about the future student. The bigger the TV screen the better for this event.
Part time jobs can add quickly to your fund.
Offer a typing service (if you’re a good typist). As a student you realize how important good typing is on your papers. Other students do too and perhaps they cannot type.
Sell on eBay.
Money is made there every day. There is probably lots of stuff lying around the house you could sell and never leave home. It will sharpen your computer skills as well. Or, you can set up your own website and sell items. If you excel in a subject offer to tutor. Post flyers around town and on school bulletin boards.
Decide which school you want to attend and determine how much it’s going to cost each year. Set a goal to raise at least part of the money with savings, investments and odd jobs. Some of the skills learned while raising money will serve you after college as well.