Christmas is almost here! And that means that grandparents and fun aunts and uncles are going to be scouring the stores (or just Amazon) for the biggest, loudest, most annoying toys to give your children.
Aren’t you excited?
If you don’t want a life-sized Batman taking over your hallway or Giggle Wiggle singing to you every day, be proactive! Open a 529 college savings account for each of your kids so your family and friends can put their money somewhere that it will really benefit your child- and not drive you crazy. (And if you do want Giggle Wiggle, let me know, I have one that I’d be happy to part with.)
Why Open A 529 Account?
You don’t need any money to open a 529 account, so there’s really no reason not to. And you can do the whole thing online in a matter of minutes. I just opened one with a friend for his son’s birthday and it was faster and easier than checking Facebook.
Once we had the account opened, it generated a link that could be sent to generous family and friends (like me). To give, all I had to do was click on the link, input my contact and payment information and click submit. It was really easy for me to give, and the best part was knowing that instead of ending up in the trash in a couple of months, my gift will grow for 12 years and then help him go to college, enabling him to provide for his future family.
Information You’ll Need To Open An Account
If you want to open a 529 account for your child(ren), you’ll need to give them some personal information. This is what you’ll need:
• Your (as the account owner) Social Security number or taxpayer ID number
• Your date of birth
• Your full name
• Your mailing address
• Your physical address (if different)
• Your phone number(s)
• Your child’s (the account beneficiary) Social Security number or taxpayer ID number
• Your child’s date of birth
• Your child’s full name
• Your child’s mailing address
• Your child’s physical address (if different)
• Account beneficiary’s relationship to account owner
• Social Security number or taxpayer ID number of a successor account owner
• That person’s date of birth
• That person’s full name
• Bank account owner name (if making a contribution immediately)
• Bank name
• Bank ABA routing number
• Bank account number
• Bank account type (checking or savings)
Decisions You Will Have To Make
When you open an account, there are a few decisions you will have to make. Here are some of the questions you need to be able to answer:
• Which state’s 529 program will you use? This is the very first thing you need to decide after deciding to open an account. You can learn about the different kinds of accounts here. I helped my friend open a Utah 529 account because I like their investment options, prices, and ratings and reviews.
• Who will be the account owner? Usually, it is a parent or legal guardian.
• Who will be the successor account owner? If something happens to the account owner, who will take it over? Often it is the other parent, but it can be any trustworthy adult or even an institution.
• How do you want your money invested? A lot of people are intimidated by investing and let this one question keep them from even opening an account. Don’t do that. When in doubt, choose an age-based option and then go back and take a deeper look at your options when you feel up to it. When you’re ready, read my post on the different kinds of investment options available and then choose the one you think is best for your situation.
• Do you want to receive your statements and official communications by email or in paper?
• Do you want to set up recurring electronic contributions? If you have it in your budget to contribute regularly, this is the way to go. Even if it’s only $50 a year, setting it up to happen automatically will at least get you moving in the right direction and ensure that you won’t forget to contribute.
• When do you want automatic contributions made? Whether it’s on the day you get paid, at the beginning of the month to help with budgeting, or some other day, usually you have the option of deciding when you want your contributions withdrawn from your bank account.
There you go, no more excuses. Once you’ve got that information and you’ve made those decisions, all you have to do is take 5-10 minutes to fill in the blanks.
There’s probably no way to completely avoid annoying toys, but make this Christmas a little bit more peaceful and a lot more productive by opening 529 college savings accounts for your kids. Your friends and family will thank you for giving them the opportunity to invest in your children’s future, instead of contributing towards your own insanity.