How Two Newborns Are Helping Me Grow Up
Saving money has not always been my strong suit. In college I would immediately spend what little money I earned from my work-study job. My first job after graduating, I lived at home with my parents. I mucked up the whole plan of living with them to save money, and wasn't able to put away a single dollar of those earnings. I still, from time to time, need to give myself a little reminder that I don't need to buy that comic book, order dessert, or go to that concert.
These are lessons involved in growing up - I understand that now. It just seems some people were able to grow up a little faster. Recently, my brother-in-law and a cousin of mine really grew up and extended their family by having a daughter and son respectively. I've met babies before and they've been cute and precious, but something happened to me when I met these two bundles of joy. I felt affection and love for them, and wanted to do all I could to help them plan for a successful future.
Working at MEFA, I talk to families all day about planning for the future. And when it comes to calls from families about affording college, it comes down to savings. Either I hear from parents who wish they had been able to save earlier in their child's life, or from parents who express their gratitude that their college savings account will help that college bill not seem so daunting. I still thank my parents for saving for me, as my college loans were not nearly as high as they could have been.
So when I met these two precious babies, and held them in my arms, I thought about the families I speak with on a daily basis. And I decided, as a Christmas present this year, that I would open up a U.Fund 529 college savings account for each child. A college savings account would provide help for future planning, and perhaps even motivation to help their own parents to save.
Once I started the process of setting up a U.Fund, I can't explain the thrill I experienced filling out each child's information, signing the documents, and setting up the gifting page. If you told 18-year-old Shaun that he would be excited about setting up a 529 college savings plan, he would have laughed in your face. Yet 30 year-old Shaun has been beaming ear to ear as he types away on Fidelity's website, making sure each U.Fund plan is set up correctly. I'm growing up, and it's an impactful experience.
One of the most rewarding parts of this entire experience was having the privilege of telling these parents that their child now has a college fund. Hearing the gratitude in their voices and seeing the happiness in their eyes was something else. As new parents, they're just trying to learn the basics of parenting. But knowing that a college fund exists can help alleviate some sort of stress when they have time to think toward the future.
I recently became engaged, and would like to one day start a family. Knowing that, from the start, I can plan for my children's future pretty easily just eases one of the thousands of other stresses that come into play when I think about fatherhood. And, while saving money still isn't my number one quality, I'd like to think that this step I've made for these two babies is in the right direction. If you're thinking of starting to save for college, for your own child or one that you know and love, don't hesitate. You'll be helping someone prepare for a successful academic future. And you might just be helping yourself grow up.