(December 12, 2022) - Most of us are familiar with the term, “it takes a village to raise a child”. During the holiday season, I have been reflecting on how thankful I am for our “village.” Friends, family members, teachers, and neighbors helped us influence and raise our young adult children to be hard-working, smart, kind, and witty humans with good financial sense. As my husband and I watch our young adults navigate their lives and make wise decisions along the way, we couldn’t be prouder. But we also know we can’t take all the credit.
We worked hard to teach our children life lessons focusing on the value of education and the importance of living within your means and saving for the future. We encouraged them to consider their options wisely, seek advice from people they admire, and enjoy the journey while working towards their goals. Over the years we made a point to regularly talk about our children’s hopes, dreams, and goals with them. We discussed how their education played a role in their futures; and more importantly, how higher education will play a more significant role in their ability to achieve their dreams.
I am thankful that we can send our children to college by accessing more than one financial resource. We did not have the means to save much, but we saved what we could when we could for their future education. We also taught our kids to save alongside us, with a “spend half and save half” rule for their cash earnings and gifts. With the help of our “village”, their savings accounts grew over the years. Just like many other families, scholarships, parent contributions, student loans (financial aid), gift money, and college savings all played an important role in funding the cost of our kids’ college educations.
Even though we were not able to save a lot, what we did save made a huge difference in our children’s ability to continue their education after high school. I am confident that having savings accounts dedicated to higher education and having those conversations about their dreams and goals both influenced their decisions to go to college. We can’t take all the credit, many people in our “village” contributed to the conversation, encouraged their dreams, and helped build their savings.
It‘s a joy to see our adult children apply the important life lessons we taught them to their daily lives. It is equally fantastic to see how our choices led to minimal student loan debt that was paid off quickly by our first college grad. With our second child in his second year of college, his financial path appears to be heading in the same direction. We are thankful for the steps we took to teach our kids the importance of saving for higher education and for everything that fell into place as a result.
As a relatively new employee of Washington College Savings Plans (WA529), I am grateful that I have the opportunity every day to encourage and inspire families to consider their higher education savings options and to save what they can when they can. WA529 offers two 529 savings plans that allow families to save money tax-free for future higher education expenses like tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies. Compare plans to start your family’s college savings journey and make WA529 part of your “village”.
By Jenn Dyck