The college savings plan your parents never told you about

Let’s face it - we know college is expensive, but have you actually looked at what it costs to send a kid college these days???

Average tuition for a public, in state, 4 year college is about $9,410 per year. Public, out of state average tuition is about $23,890 per year. And private 4 year college average tuition is about $32,410 per year. And we all know this changes fast. PLUS, this doesn’t include living costs like food, books, clothes, etc. while going to school. CHA-CHING!

I completed four years at an in-state, public university. I split the cost with my dad….thanks dad! I then went on to complete my doctorate at a private university. Let’s just say I have a LOT of student loans. All I knew was how to be professional student. I did not know how those student loans would impact me over the next 30 years as an adult. Every month I write a mortgage sized check to my loan company. Worth it, yes! But also difficult? Yes.

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I haven’t quite realized yet how much this cap and gown actually cost me.

So as a parent of two children, I would love to be able to help my kids with college. I don’t care if you’re one of those parents who says they want to pay for their kids college, or you’re one of those parents who says they want their kid to pay completely, your kid will still come to you in times of need and you will want to have saved some money for these times. 

In the United States, the median income according to the 2017 report from the U.S. Census Bureau is $31,786. The Real median family income is about $75,938. This has not changed much in the past few years yet college costs continue to rise.

Even worse, the median savings account balance in the United States is $4,500, with the average being about $40,200 according to the survey of consumer finances. Those dang over achievers throwing the average for a loop! 

So if we look at what people are making and what they’re able to save, there is NO way to save enough to put one kid through college, never-mind two...or three….or more. 

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someday, they’ll be college age

Here’s what most parents and financial planners recommend: the 529 college savings plans.  What are they? Named for the section of the Internal Revenue Code that established these plans in 1996, 529s offer parents the ability to contribute funds to state-operated investment plans that allow those funds to grow tax-deferred. There are limits of course, for example, a 529 plan caps you at gifting/contributing $15,000 a year as an individual OR $30,000 a year as a couple to the plan. There are also specifics as far as what the money can be used for, although most things like books, computers, and educational needs are approved. These education savings plans also typically come with higher fees than other savings and investment plans. And then of course, parents need to ensure adequate earnings of these educational savings plans to balance risk and growth potential. The problem is, some plans don’t provide an adequate selection for parents to choose from. 

Another drawback is that a 529 plan owned by a parent gets reported on a financial aid application and therefore can impact eligibility for grants and loans.

And of course, you can use your 529 savings for other purchases outside of school but there are hefty tax penalties. So if your child’s college costs less than expected, you may lose out significantly on your money in the 529 savings plan.

So if you haven’t started saving yet, you can start any time and choose the amount of risk you wish to incur in your investment strategy depending on how many years you have to save. 

Say you start saving when your child is about 5 years old. That means you have 13 years until they turn 18 and enter college. In order to support an in state, public college, you would need to put away about $2,895 a year or $241 a month. Not bad right, especially when considering there might be growth on your 529 plan. If you want to support a private college, you’ll need to put away $9,942 a year or $833 a month for 13 years. Hopefully all goes well and your investment makes money over time!

But what if your child doesn’t want to go to college? Or they go and then drop out because they realize they don’t love what they’re doing? What if they want to build a business instead?

What I want to give to you today is another option I’m cashing in on that not very many people are thinking about and I want to scream it from the rooftops: Network Marketing.

Yes, my network marketing business is partially a savings plan for my kids (and my future). Four years ago, I started working my network marketing job on the side while working full time, with a newborn, learning how to pump and breastfeed and be a mom. I will admit, I was NOT thinking college for my then newborn...I was thinking SURVIVAL haha and how could I provide healthier options for my daughter.  What I started to see was an opportunity to create an income that would continue to grow with just a little bit of time and effort put in. 

Looking at the details, I saw that to get to a rank called “Gold”, it took members an average of 49 months (about 4 years) where they would make a median income of $4541 a month. I thought gees….if this is my side job, I can put away a good chunk of that money every month and save a significant amount for my daughter and my retirement. Turns out, it only took me 31 months working this business in the little hours I had to make it to Gold. 

What would an extra $4541 a month do for you and your family? How much could you save for college? Does this sound better than a risky investment plan? I think so!

Let’s look at the next rank just for fun, Platinum. It takes members an average of 58 months, almost 5 years, to make Platinum. A Platinum’s median monthly income is about $11,057. Do the math friends! Even if you took only half of that paycheck and put it away in a savings account for one year, you’d have enough to send one kid to a public in state college for four years, or almost three years covered at an out of state college, or two years covered at a private college. What if you invested that money? Why aren’t more people doing this??? 

Ok ok, last one because I just find this so amazing. The average amount of time it takes for members of my company to make it to the top rank called Royal Crown Diamond is about 97 months (or 8 years) where their median paycheck is about $132,828. Build a business for 8 years on average to make an income of $132,828 a month? Who would pass that up? Sadly, a lot of people. Why? Because it involves work! But the reward is so beautiful; a longer, healthier, happier life. Kids who have the opportunity to go to college and not take on hefty student loans? The opportunity for your children to watch and learn about business while you work yours from home? These benefits are priceless. I love that growing my own business is an example for my kids of what they can do with their life. 

Eight years total in school - whew!

Eight years total in school - whew!

You want to know what’s even better? Eighteen year olds can start working a Young Living business. Imagine, a job they can work from their dorm room, with products that every single college student needs to help focus, improve immune systems, stay awake to study and improve their mindset? Absolutely nothing else like it! I remember my job in college, I worked in a cold ice rink with weird late night hours so I could buy groceries and maybe have a little fun on the weekends. Imagine being able to grow a community of like-minded, healthy people and an impactful business so when your child gets out of school they can take their time finding a job and a place to live knowing that income was coming in from their network marketing gig in the meantime? Totally worth it.

I’ll end on this note - Do not let this opportunity pass you by to create an income that will help you support your children in college, help you create a life you love and a retirement that is unlimited in possibility. I didn’t start network marketing to save money for my kids for college but you better believe it’s what I’m doing now!

Guinevere Stasio