When should I start saving for college?

finance loan money

There is an easy answer to this question – it is never too early to start saving for college. Every year tuition rates increase and the earlier you begin to save, the better off you will be in the future when it comes time to send in your first tuition payment. The following tips will help you figure out how best to start the process of saving.
1. Invest in Stocks like Nowguaranteed
Because tuition costs rise faster than the rate of inflation, investing in stocks may be the best way to save for college. As your child gets older, you can switch out some of your savings into bonds and cash.
2. Start a 529 Savings Plan
A 529 savings plan is another great option and it can also lead to great tax breaks. Most plans allow you to save over $200,000 with no income restriction or limits on the age of the beneficiary. Qualified withdrawals are even free from federal tax.
3. Don’t Think You Have to Pay for It All
There are countless ways to kids to raise money (one thousand dollars loan) for college these days. From federal and state aid to merit scholarships and grants there are plenty of ways to bridge the gap between your savings and the cost of your child’s tuition. The more you save, the better off you will be, but do not think that you have to come up with every nickel and dime your child will need to go to school.
4. Look for Tax Credits
There are always new tax credits and some of them may benefit you during the years you pay tuition. Keep an eye out for credits for which you may be eligible – the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are just two of the many for which you may qualify.

Its also a matter of real estate inflation


which certainly varies from locale to locale. The house my parents bought when I was in 6th grade, a 1927-built 4-bedroom home in the Spanish style prevalent here in Southern California, cost them 82,500 then. I’m now 48 years old, and they just received an offer to sell it for 1.2 million. Soooooooo liability? I don’t think so (Smile.)

But in general, I think there’s a lot of good sense in Kski’s books, especially “The Cash Flow Quadrant” and you can learn a GREAT deal about money, about your attitudes towards it, and about business and how to read a balance sheet by playing his great educational board game called “CashFlow.” Anyone in the Southern California area who’d like to, let me know–I’ve got the game and we find it quite illuminating and it has NOTHING to do with MLM.


One of the concepts Robert promotes is his cash-flow quadrant

finance money

Obviously, I can’t reproduce it here, but (hopefully quickly) I can try to describe it.

In the upper left is the letter “E” –
for employee.
Lower left is “S” – for
Upper right is “B” – for business owner
Lower right
is “I” – for investor

He says that the two left quadrants are for the people who trade time for money and whose money doesn’t work for them if they stop working.

The right two quadrants are for the people who have an asset that works for them (depending upon how well they set it up), regardless of whether or not they are directly involved in day-to-day operations.

I like his basic premise here, but the problem is that he places IBOs, or distributors in an MLM, in the B quadrant – for business owners. And as all of us here have discovered, an IBO really owns nothing. It’s this mislabeling of participants in MLM as “business owners” that, for a man clearly as astute as he is, makes him a sell-out.

I have not read “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth.” Sounds like it needs to be on my reading list. Thanks.

The recent comments


about new versions of Quicken isn’t because of bugs. The software works well enough. Rather, that it has gotten more complex over time. Once I figured out a few “rules for the road”, I really started to like it more particulatly for separating home from biz costs.

Well, prior to this whole discussion


I found a good deal on a discount software website. Because I am working on getting my ebay business going, I went ahead and purchased the Quicken home and business 2013 for 39 dollars. This version was listed as over 100 if I bought directly from the company. I bought the CD rather than downloading it and have not installed it yet. It just came on Thursday and I’ve been super busy since then.

I guess I’ll see how bad the bugs are. There was a time when I used Quicken, but when mint came around, I switched to that. I’d say that it’s been at least 7 years and the last version that I had was probably 2004.

In other news, we have a plan for our snowball. If we are able to put as much extra towards it as I am hoping that we can, we should have all of the credit cards paid off in two years. It’ll take another two years to pay off her student loan.

So that we have something to work for, I am using my ebay profits to pay for kids’ activities (including lessons and such) so that keeps me motivated to build it up. I know that DR would say that this is a waste of money, but my 5 year old is a very talented gymnast and wants to compete. She will not be competing until next year, but once she does, gymnastics is not a cheap sport. My goal is to be able to pay for it and more without digging into money from our regular jobs. Luckily, she attends a very good gym that is a very good value for the money. Other places charge double what we are paying. She gets 4.5 hours a week of practice for 150 a month.

Anything more than that is extra to go towards the snowball. Right now, I have a lofty goal of putting 500 extra on the snowball each month and 2000 from tax refunds. Having the credit cards paid off in two years is dependent upon being able to do that. Otherwise, if we paid only the minimums, we’d be looking at more like 10 years.

When I broke down the numbers this way and shared them with my partner, she was totally on board. So, the key is going to be keeping motivation up for both of us.

The budget has been pretty hard to pin down. I keep forgetting categories and I am struggling with what areas to develop sinking funds. We have had a sinking fund for Christmas for over a year, but that is the only one that we have. I can think of other areas, but I really want to pay off the credit cards so I don’t want to put so much money towards funds that it takes away from the snowball. It’s been a little tough because our current net income is variable due to my partner’s furlough (which I am excited to say was just shortened) and my higher summer pay (in the summers, only taxes are taken out – health insurance, etc. is not). Once fall comes and my partner’s pay is back to normal, I am hoping to pin down a zero based budget.

No, she meant ‘updated manually’


as in having to key in all the data yourself. You can’t download data anymore on the older versions. I’m not sure how far back they go before they ‘sunset’ that feature, but my 2004 version lost that capability 3 or 4 years ago…

That’s not quite what I meant


What you’re describing is using your bank’s website to do a report export, then you bring that export file into Quicken via the import feature, ie “pushing” information into Quicken. I was referring to Quicken “pulling” information directly from the bank. Not all banks offer the export that you’re using, and some make you pay for that service. For those banks that don’t offer if, or charge for it, folks would have needed to enter things manually. Every transaction would have to be added, one at a time, by manually typing in the date, the payee, the memo, the category, the amount, then saved.
There is also the issue of changing tax rules, if anyone ever uses Quicken for prepping their tax returns. Quicken isn’t the primary way to do that (TurboTax being that company’s primary tax reporting software). But Quicken did categorize tax spending and provide some preliminary reporting. As tax rules have changed, updated copies of Quicken have changed too. Using such an old copy, none of those changes would be there.

That may not work very well


I was a long-time holdout for previous versions too, but as of April the download from financial institutions was “turned off”. So if that’s how folks were updating their accounts, that ability switched off. All the accounts would have to be updated manually. There are other issues as well which earlier versions of Quicken won’t do or couldn’t do, but that was the biggie.

But now I’m curious – are you still able to download transactions with yours, or did you never use that function? That’s the only reason we updated ours.

Long answer:


Quicken has a lot of different options for entering information. For us, and keep in mind this is one of the points of contention right now, Quicken will allow setup and download of multiple accounts from multiple institutions, so that there’s one central place to view all that information. I thought that was a good thing. DH did not agree. Furthermore, you can have different passwords, you can set up to download all the different institutions together or separately, you can have various download schedules, and you can even hide some accounts from the main view. I don’t know how that particular feature works, but it’s there.

Our own issues sort of exploded when we agreed (ok, I pushed for it, he sorta went along with it at first) to download all our accounts to one copy of Quicken so that we could both see each other’s information. It was within a few days of that event, that stuff blew up for us. We’re still straightening out how much of each other’s personal information we’re comfortable sharing. Because of our current fundamental disagreement on that part, I haven’t touched Quicken for several weeks, and I won’t until/unless we can come to some sort of new agreement on the whole topic. Yes, I’ve gone back to dead reckoning in terms of how much money we have for this or that. But yea, it’s all out there in the open once you set up the downloads, and bring in the first batch of info. If one or the other partner is relatively secretive or private, my own rather bruised history would suggest that you proceed with caution with this step.

The other issue is that if you have a copy of Quicken which already has information in it, downloading a whole new set of account info MIGHT, not will, but MIGHT really goof up the setup. In our case, just as an example, we had to wade through and clean up a lot of duplicate Payee entries (such as grocery store names, gas station names, etc) and Category entries (mortgage, utilities, personal expenses, etc). Also, if a person is accustomed to entering transactions manually, a comprehensive download will bring all those transactions in again unless you’re really careful with the download (for instance, only downloading transactions after a certain date). On the other hand, if you start off with a new copy, a lot of that might be averted. Assume you’ll have considerable setup, one way or another.

I still think (and hope and pray) that we’re ultimately going to end up with a comprehensive set of records in Quicken. I don’t see an intelligent, practical way to manage our various accounts any other way. My DH’s current stance is that he shouldn’t have to share information. My current stance is that honey, if you want me doing your budget, you’d best be willing to give me the info I need to do that successfully. I suppose we could go back to me and mine and he and his and have a solid dividing line between the two. In which case, we’d need to go back to two copies of Quicken. But having tried to run things for two years like that, it didn’t work well. So I guess time will tell. Given your history with your partner, I’d encourage you to proceed really slowly and cautiously on this step. I don’t know if our own blowup was inevitable, regardless of what we were trying to do with Quicken. But somehow, working with new/unfamiliar software, that somehow gives folks license to blow their cool easier than what would have happened otherwise.

Maybe it won’t be an issue for you like it was for us. Keep us posted on how it all works out. Maybe this was just us reaching a boiling point which would have occured anyway, and Quicken was just the excuse.



I’ve been in the process of trying to find the best way to organize and make sense of both of our accounts. It’s been quite time consuming and I am wondering whether it might be worth it to invest in Quicken.

One question would be whether Quicken would allow me to enter accounts from one place from both of us. For example, we both have credit cards from Chase. Would it allow me to enter both of our accounts in there? That is the piece that is missing from Mint.