At this time, my husband and I are not saving for our kids’ college education in a traditional 529 account. Instead, they each have a custodial investment account where we put their money from their birthdays, grandparents, etc.
I’m not going to insist that their money is a college fund. I want them to be an active part of choosing their investments and deciding what to do with them. When they are 18, they will have access to their accounts.
If they want to use their money for college, great. If they want to use it to start a business, awesome. If they want to use it on a down payment on a house, more power to them. I’ll give advice if they ask for it, but for the most part, the money is theirs to do with as they please.
I used to value a college education so much, and it is important to have depending on the career field you want. For example, my husband is months away from finishing medical school. You can’t be a doctor without a college degree. Noted.
But, if my kids want to go into business or be professional actors or dancers, who am I to say they have to go and get an overpriced four year degree?
The Price of an Education
I don’t know about you, but the price of a college education is just completely ridiculous. I went to a fancy school and then to graduate school and now I am working in a totally different field.
I spent six years studying Civil War History, and I honestly could not tell you the dates of the major battles anymore. My whole world is blogging and personal finance writing now. Isn’t it important for my kids to know what they want to do rather than spend years working towards a degree they might not ever use?
Furthermore, what if my kids start a business at age 12 and by age 18 it’s already making six figures? I wouldn’t insist a child go to college if they already have a career going for them. What if they want to travel abroad, volunteer, or do something else?
I’m fine supporting my children in their dreams, as long as they are hard-working, inspiring, and open minded.
I won’t support a kid who won’t leave my house, get a job, or stay away from abusing alcohol or drugs.
But if my kid presents me with a proposal of what they will do and learn on their 1 year abroad, I have no problem with them taking a year off before attending school. Maybe everyone should do such a thing in order to find out where they really belong.
Know that I write this post coming from a place of gratitude. I know I’m fortunate to be born in the USA, have the resources to send my child to college if I want to or not, and give my kids will choices in life. I know not every child can afford to choose between travel or investing in a business or doing something else entirely if they want to.
What I want them to have mostly is gratitude for all these gifts that life has afforded us, appreciation for their parents who worked hard to give them choices, and a willingness to make the world a better place regardless of whether or not that includes college. I especially don’t want them to fall into the mindset of thinking that they must apply to and attend the best college possible, regardless of cost.
My views are changing on higher education. Will my kids go to college? Probably. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be saving just for that. I’m saving for their future, and whatever that may be is up to them.
What are your thoughts on saving for college for your children? What do you do with extra money your children receive for holidays and birthdays? Why do you think we so often associate going to college as the only way to be successful?