Add College Savings to Your Back to School Shopping List

Young family shopping for back to school supplies.

As a parent, it’s all you can do to cut corners wherever possible. You do more with less while you take pride in your child’s enthusiasm for learning. But what if there were a better way? Every year, you have to buy markers, crayons, composition notebooks, and more. It feels as though the list of school supplies grows longer with each grade. As a parent of a child in elementary school, these yearly supply runs start to add up in your bank account. And the older your child gets, the more costly the school supplies will be. It gets worse when your child reaches middle school. Then those supplies will include calculators, books, and items with even larger price tags.

The Ever-Growing Costs of School Supplies

By the time your child is ready to head off to college, you will be a seasoned veteran when it comes to back-to-school shopping. You know the ins and outs of what is needed, what can be reused from last year, and what can be skipped entirely. You know the stores with the best sales, the best times to stock up and which brands hold up the longest. You’re a bona fide back-to-school pro. But college is different. There will be many new and unexpected expenses to account for, and it helps to be prepared.

From laptops to lab equipment and textbooks, you can expect your child’s college supply list to cost hundreds to even thousands of dollars by the time it’s all said and done. If asked, most parents would probably say they miss the days when all that was needed was a simple pack of pencils, notebooks, and basic crafting supplies. It can make saving for your child’s college expenses seems like a distant goal. The truth is it that can actually pay off in the long run if you start saving now.

Have You Thought About Saving Up?

If they haven’t started saving for college already, many parents have at least considered the idea. It’s a comforting notion to know that you will have some savings set aside specifically for college. It’s nice to know that you and your child will have less to worry about when it comes time to pay for college. But because the cost of college is high, many parents feel they simply don’t have the means to save for college at all. It’s hard to visualize saving that much. Just remember to start with small steps.

One big misconception is that in order to save money, you have to already have a lot of it. In fact, oftentimes the opposite is true. By saving money in small monthly or yearly increments, you can grow your savings over time. Take just $25, for example — the minimum contribution amount needed to open an NC 529 College Savings Plan. By putting away just $25 now, while your child is in elementary school, you are ensuring not only that you will have that $25 for college expenses down the road, but also that those savings might earn interest and grow larger every year. You can continue to put more money in as you are able, making the savings add up over time. The good thing about the NC 529 Plan is that your earnings can be used tax-free when used toward qualified higher education expenses, including school supplies and textbooks.

Saving Now Adds Up Later

Saving just a small amount now can add up to big savings in the long run. Even if you can’t save the entire amount needed for all your child’s college expenses, every little bit helps. Think about it. If your account earnings can help pay for even a few college textbooks, you’ve saved some money and come out ahead. And if you contribute to your savings continuously, you’ll be even more prepared for the eventual cost of your child’s college education. Call or click to learn more about how you can set up an NC 529 account. Start saving for your child’s college expenses today.