We dropped our son off at college yesterday to start his sophomore year. Naturally, I am reflective this morning about him and his adventures.
He really had a productive summer. He worked part-time at a retail store and took three summer classes to get ahead on his Bachelor’s degree. My wife an I were astounded at how responsible he is. We met when we were his age and weren’t thinking nearly as long-term as he has. He banked more than half of what he earned, opened a brokerage account and put money in a S&P 500 index fund, and is now almost a semester and a half of extra credits before we started our second year on campus.
He also made a killing on a small amount he invested in crypto-currencies earlier this year and was able to buy himself an iPad and a Classic NES video game console.
We are blessed to be able to pay for his college education. We drew out of the 529 Plan we had set up for his college expenses for last Fall & Spring semesters and paid directly for the summer classes.
We saved about 80% of what we needed for his college costs in a 529 – we didn’t want to “oversave” in the account since we only have one child to use it in and we were not sure if he would go to a private or public school. He’s at a private school and the amount we have saved is almost perfect. We manage the 20% balance out of simple cash-flow in our household budget.
Here are some past posts that relate to saving for college & approaching early retirement:
- The College Paradox – How Much To Save?
- Retire Before The Kids Head Off To College?
- Kids In School & Early Retirement
If you kids heading off to college now – or starting grade, middle or high school – best wishes to them (and to you!) Here’s hoping they learn a little personal finance in addition to everything else they need to learn in school!
Image Credit: Pixabay
8 thoughts on “FIRE Station Fun – Back To Campus”
Sounds like he’s on a great path. Investments before he’s 20, love it! Nicely done. We dropped our daughter off last week for her freshmen year. So far so good. She has been working over the last year and saved for spending money and is applying for a campus job too. Our son is living at home and will be commuting. He doesn’t start until next week. Our youngest start his sophomore year of high school too.
That sounds like big changes in your household, Brian. It’s hard when they first leave for college, isn’t it? I suppose the grocery bill goes down, but I’ve never figured out if there are other offsets to the cost of college.
It sounds like your son probably learned a lot of valuable lessons from you and your wife over the years! We still have many years to go until our elementary school-aged children are ready for college, but we have been funding their 529 accounts. I like your idea about not overfunding the accounts. We’re still chasing a moving target many years out, but I think a number that’s eventually in that 75-80% range is probably about right for us also.
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Starting early on those 529s is great! They build quicker than you think and it sure is a pleasure to have them simply wire the money to the college than have to write a check ourself!
I would pay 100% of college costs now with the 529, and cover the last year (or year and a half) from other savings after/if the 529 runs out.
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We’ve paid mostly with the 529 so far – only some summer classes with cash. The 529 is invested in almost all bonds at this point, so it is unlikely to earned much.
I have blown through most of your countdown and milestone lists over the past couple of days, and I have just really started paying attention to net worth, investments, etc. The good news is that my wife comes from a long line of savers and got me started on the right path 15 or more years ago. The one place I haven’t had to worry about is the 529s for our three kids. The wife’s grandparents were huge believers in secondary education, and they gave us enough money through the years that each kid has around 80k in those accounts. One thing I haven’t read about yet is how is the money pulled out of the account. Is the money paid directly from the account to the university? I have a few more years until I really need to worry about the answer.
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Yes – it is really simple to pull the money from the 529. Every state plan is probably set up differently, but I just go into the website, select the school from a drop down list and enter the amount. They pay the school directly.