Wherever you are in the college saving and spending process, you’ve undoubtedly developed priceless knowledge that can benefit others in your life.
We sometimes underestimate the positive impact we can have by sharing what we know about a topic with those who are less familiar.
With National “529 Day” approaching (May 29), a day dedicated to raising awareness of the existence and usefulness of 529 plans, here are three ways for you to consider sharing your 529 know-how with others at this time and when opportunities arise throughout the year:
1. Start the conversation.
Ask those you know who have children in their lives whether they would be interested in hearing about an approach you’ve pursued to save for your loved ones’ future education expenses. If they’re interested, you can share a link to your 529 plan’s website and/or any articles it produces or educational events it has scheduled. You can complement the materials with a bit of insight into your personal experience.
Why? It’s quite possible that saving for their children’s or grandchildren’s future has been on the minds of people you know but they’ve been putting the topic off for any number of reasons. It’s also possible that sharing a bit about your experience will open the door to their interest in learning more. It may also result in bringing this important topic to the top of their to-do list.
2. Suggest an educational session.
Recommend that your employer offer an educational session on 529 plans. In employers’ quests to identify benefits that best address employees’ needs, your Human Resources or Benefits team may welcome your suggestion. And, if you are part of an employee resource group at work or a member of an organization in your community, you might suggest an educational session on saving for college to those groups as well.
Why? With so many Americans still unfamiliar with 529 plans, your suggestion can provide priceless education and empower your colleagues and/or community group members with information they may not otherwise have come across. Offering education in employment or other group contexts is a “one to many” approach. While sharing one-to-one information with individuals in your life can certainly be impactful, reaching a larger audience through your workplace or community can result in an even greater impact.
3. Give a gift toward college.
Give a contribution to a college savings account for parents-to-be or new parents instead of a more traditional gift which may be quickly outgrown in size or usefulness. There are gift cards for this very purpose that can be purchased in denominations starting at $25. A gift like this will most definitely open the door to a conversation about your experience with 529 plans. And on an annual basis, consider making a 529 plan contribution for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions to support those who have started the saving and investing process. This will be a tradition everyone can feel good about.
Why? A contribution to a 529 college savings account can be a great conversation starter about the value of planning ahead for higher education and it can get a family with a new child off to a strong financial start. And every contribution you and others make through the years toward a future student’s educational and career dreams will be that much less than they will need to borrow and repay with interest.
Individuals cannot take advantage of tax-advantaged savings and investment vehicles like 529 plans if they are not aware they exist or don’t know where to learn more about them. With a bit of 529 knowledge under your belt, you’re in a unique position to share what you know and to have a positive impact on the lives of others in your workplace and community. Raising the topic can empower others to learn more and help them feel less alone when it comes to preparing for a goal that may seem insurmountable.