College Savings Fund Starter Kit

A little over a year ago, Carter – the boy child – arrived. Given that our oh-so-cute condo in the swanky, South Loop was short on space; we opted against hosting a traditional baby shower to avoid the crush of gifts that might make it hard to find the baby. Instead, we celebrated his arrival over food and fellowship following a baby dedication sans baby gifts. We still received some very thoughtful and helpful gifts – both new and new-to-us. All of which were appreciated. One in particular came from Carter’s (very own) angels (those friends on speed dial when babysitting services are in short supply) – a college savings fund starter kit.

What is a college savings fund starter kit? This is the gift that says, “You may look cute and cuddly in an Elmo onesie, but we have long range goals for you bud”. My girlfriends organized a collection that was presented in the form of cash to begin Carter’s college saving fund. The amount is not as important as the entire package involved in the college savings fund starter kit. We were (and still are) touched beyond measure because this gift has long term love written all over it.

The college savings fund starter kit is simple and can be any variation that fits your needs. Might I suggest the following elements:

1.       The initiator – This person solicits contribution pledges and collects funds from one or more friends/co-workers/family members in lieu of traditional baby shower gifts.  Most importantly, select people who can contribute and keep the secret!

2.       The reminder – This person is responsible for staying on top of the new parents to remind them to research and setup their desired college savings vehicle. The initiator and reminder can be one in the same. Below, I’ll post links to several comparison charts to aid the research process. With a new baby in house, new parents may forget about or indefinitely postpone the research. A gentle reminder after 6 or 9 months may be in order. You may also want to help research to speed up the process.

3.        The big A check – This can be a simple Word certificate printed on regular paper. It’s just a token to give new parents. Let everyone in the group sign it. I’ve added mine to Carter’s scrapbook as a keep sake. It’s soooo cute!

4.       The presentation – Pick a time when most of the contributors can be present.  Baby showers, sprinkles, or dedications are timely. Take pictures. There are sure to be tears of joy!

It’s that simple! This gift is not only a tangible gift of cash, but a gentle nudge and reminder to parents that saving for college should begin sooner than later. We even found that the savings tool allowed us to send emails with account information. Everyone can contribute directly to the savings account. This gives birthday and Christmas cash a whole new meaning.

Check out the Motley Fool or Saving For College for some great information on college savings tools.

What say you? How do you feel about a college savings fund starter kit in lieu of some baby shower gifts?

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