Are you already putting aside money for your child's education? If so, you've made a great decision - tuition costs a lot of money, and there's no time like the present to start saving.
But education planning, far from being a simple, sock-the-money-away kind of venture, is a financial area where the experienced, wise advice of a solid money manager can make a huge difference to your child's future.
IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE AS A SAVINGS ACCOUNT.
If we could simply put some money away regularly in a savings account, tax-free, education planning would be incredibly simple. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way: just saving money in any standard bank-offered savings account still needs to be declared at the end of the year, and as it starts getting bigger and bigger, the amount taken in tax will increase as well.
For a truly intelligent approach to education planning, it's fundamental to explore some of the other approaches out there, which allow you to declare your savings as specifically for your child's education, and receive benefits therein.
TREAT EDUCATION PLANNING LIKE YOU TREAT RETIREMENT.
This is the best approach: we don't put our retirement money calmly into the bank (or under the mattress), because we know that 401(k) plans and a range of other pension options will put our money to work for us, meaning we'll have all that much more when it comes time to retire.
Education planning works the same way. The government, and individual states, have created dozens of different programs allowing for educational savings, and if you don't want to waste your money - and instead watch it grow - it's paramount to take advantage of them.
GREAT PLANS EXIST OUT THERE.
The problem is finding them. Most states offer at least 5 different ways to save money for education, all with their own series of advantages and pitfalls. Which one is right for your current financial situation? As with most things - it depends.
While some plans allow for huge contributions, their tax penalties can hit you at inopportune times. Others seem to run on the slow-drip method, allowing minimal deposits that eventually build into a reasonable sum. They are rarely perfect, but the reason there are so many of them is simply because there are many different types of investors.
TO GET THE MOST OUT OF EDUCATION PLANNING, YOU NEED A MONEY MANAGER.
And that's the essential point - education planning is a type of investment, just like any other. While it might not seem so at first glance, since saving for your child's education doesn't feel the same as standard investment, it remains quite similar. And because of that, you - and your children - are much better off with the steady advice of a money manager.
What a financial planner can do for you is legion: they will present all the options available for your child's education savings, take full stock of your current financial situation, and work with you to find a solution that fits your budget, your life, and your dreams.