You want your child to be successful in this new school year. No doubt you want your child to be successful in life, too. That's why now is the perfect time to start saving for your child's future education.
Whether you dream of your child pursuing a four-year degree or foresee a career path that could require specialized training or technical education, a 529 college savings plan like Future Scholar can help you cover those future education costs.
What's more, your 529 funds can be used at any accredited two- or four-year school not only in South Carolina, but also throughout the United States and at more than 600-plus schools around the globe.
While it can never be too early or too late to start saving, beginning as early as possible is a smart move. The sooner you begin saving, the more time your contributions will have to work for you and help prevent overwhelming student loan debt in the future.
You should know that saving for college with a 529 plan like Future Scholar isn't just a smart move. It's easy, too.
You can manage your contributions online. You have the flexibility to select an investment strategy that makes sense for your individual needs. And if you find that a child doesn't need the money for college, you can easily transfer funds to another sibling or even yourself - or use the funds for post-graduate studies.
With the three tips below, you can boost your savings and help ensure you have a plan to cover future educational expenses, no matter what type of post-secondary school your child chooses to attend.
1. Set up regular contributions. Whether you schedule a draft once a month or by the paycheck, scheduling regular contributions to go into your child's 529 savings account can help build up your child's balance.
Each year review your current contribution to see if you are able to increase it for the coming year. Whether that's an extra $10 or $100, you'll be amazed how quickly those numbers can go up.
2. Use unexpected windfalls to boost savings. When you stop paying for diapers or orthodontist bills, take that line item from your monthly budget and apply it to your child's 529 account.
Also consider putting your tax refunds, performance bonuses and even rebates from new purchases into your college saving efforts.
3. Encourage the gift of education for or from your loved ones. It's easy to make a gift contribution to a loved one's 529 account for a variety of life's milestones. Birthdays, holidays and graduation are just some of the great opportunities to help boost college savings and capitalize on the available tax benefits.
You can invite grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as family friends to contribute to a child's 529 account in lieu of buying toys or other gifts that end up broken, lost or outgrown.
What's more, contributors can take a tax deduction on their South Carolina income tax returns.
Now that you are ready for the school year, make a commitment to start saving more for your child's college education. Before you know it, your own future scholar will be crossing the stage at high school graduation, and you'll both be glad you are ready for the next step.
Curtis Loftis is the South Carolina state treasurer.