I got a notice this morning – actually two of them – in my email inbox. “Your College Savings Plan Statement is now available!”
I sometimes forget, but I set up one account for Gavin, one for Scout, when they were born, through the Oregon College Savings Plan (we were living there at the time).
I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Oh, crap. How much is even IN there?” (It’s the same feeling I get when I think about my retirement account, which I try not to do too often. There’s money in there, for sure, but I will likely be eating cat food at 80, at the rate I’m going.)
I know I make automatic deposits into the kids’ accounts, but I think it’s like $50 a month, so that doesn’t exactly accumulate rapidly.
I clicked on the link in the email, but had forgotten my account login information – so I had to contact customer service, reset my password, then change my username to meet their updated security standards . . . (by this time I didn’t even care about the balance anymore, but I was sort of invested in the process, so I kept going).
Twenty minutes later, I was finally logged in. The banner at the top of the page read: Total balance for all accounts (as of 4/4/2018): $4,204.76
I sort of started laugh/crying, thinking about my own college debt (which I am still paying on) and how $4,204.76 FOR BOTH my kids wasn’t going to get them very far.
But then I realized, I actually have no idea how much I am even supposed to be putting in there. Maybe that’s a good start, right?
I’m not great with numbers, so I have no idea what $50 a month on top of the above amount looks like, in 15 years or so. My brain just does not work that way. No one will ever accuse me of being a Human Calculator. Ever.
(I only know how to calculate the tip at a restaurant because I was a waitress for what seems like a million years and learned real quick that 10% (which is easy to calculate, even for me) of the bill, plus another half of that (5%) is what should be in the “Tip” amount when the customer signs it. Or more, preferably.)
Anyway, so I decided to dig in a bit (meaning, Google search for 3.5 seconds and click on the first thing that popped up, which fortunately for me was quite useful – thanks, Google). There is a site called The College Investor. Com (like it was made for me). And it has a handy chart (I like charts) that says at such and such age, you should have such and such amount in your kid’s 529 college savings account. Easy breezy!
My kids are 4 and 2 (ok, Scout is almost 3 but I’m calling her 2 for purposes of this exercise). So, by this point I should have $7,000 . . . (mumbles some other numbers incoherently). Anyway, something between $7,000 (low end) and well – I’m not even LOOKING at the high end, because that’s absurd. They’re not going to Harvard. They’re going to auto mechanic’s school, if I have anything to do with it.
Regardless, I’m not THAT far off. I’m off, but it’s not that far. (I’m an optimist.) I can totally play catch up (just cut back on string cheeses for a few weeks and – VOILA!)
That’s a relief. (I’m deluding myself a bit here, clearly I need to dump more moolah in my kids college accounts, but it’s totally doable – they’re still young and I have many years of funneling all my hard-earned cash in their direction).
For anyone who is interested, there is also a calculator on TRowePrice where you can perform actual calculations based on your specific scenario. I’m not interested in exerting that much effort, but you may be.