College Savings

Running & Savings Goals Unite

2013 Falmouth Road RaceAs a sponsor of the Falmouth Road Race for a second year in a row, MEFA and Fidelity are proud partners in building awareness on the importance of planning early for college through establishing a college savings plan. Every year, we go out into the field and get a temperature read on how families are saving for college and the awareness around this topic. What we learn is that despite our outreach efforts,  families are still seeking guidance and assistance on college savings. That's why we continue to visit communities around the state to provide experiences like MEFA's U.Fund Dreams Tour.

Meeting families in person and beginning the conversations around saving for college is our attempt to educate and nudge them to get started. As the college financing authority in Massachusetts, our intentions are transparent and our hopes are high. Our focus is to help you reach your college savings goals through a combination of planning and saving resources.  We know that saving and paying for college may be challenging, but we work everyday to lessen those challenges.  MEFA and Fidelity's work as partners is to provide the best guidance in both college financing and planning for college. As such, the U.Fund Dreams Tour was designed to engage families on the topic of college savings and to kick start college saving plans.

If you're wondering, Why a road race? What's the connection? It's simple--because we know that folks who run and take part in running a race like Falmouth are people who like to set goals for themselves and take their time to fine tune their training and efforts to achieve something great.

For me, as a seasoned runner and a disciplined saver, running and saving for college have 3 similarities:

1. Establishing a goal and sticking to it.
As a runner, having a goal is one of the greatest factors in motivation and achievement. If I know that I have a race in my future, I create workouts, stick to my training plan and follow through on my goal. As a saver, it's very similar. I use college savings estimators and calculators, figure out how much I need to save and set up a schedule to save on a monthly basis. While the college savings goal has a longer time period, the principles of creating a plan and sticking to it are the same.

2. Reviewing your goals and setting new benchmarks.
When running a race, establishing a benchmark for what is possible always allows you to re-establish new goals for the next one or learn about where you need to fine tune your skills and abilities. Approaching your college savings goals in this same way allows you to re-orient yourself in how your savings goals are pacing and also how to refine your current plans. While it's easy to set up your college savings plan and then let it take its course, you should read your statements and revisit what you have been able to achieve in case you want to set new benchmarks or explore more options.

3. Letting time be on your side.
With over 12+ years of experience in running local races, half's and marathons, I have learned to appreciate the importance of time being on my side. What sparked my love for running was when I spectated a marathon and became inspired by the runners passing me and achieving something that seemed virtually impossible. So many miles, so much sweat, so much pain and yet one foot in front of the other--it was getting done. The task seemed monumental but it's because I wasn't breaking it down. We know as runners that breaking the course down into digestible chunks makes the goal easier to achieve. Approaching saving for college in this way is helpful. While calculators may intimidate you and even deter you from starting to save, don't let the numbers get in your way. Get started by using the power of time. The earlier you save, the longer the time you have to make your savings work for you.
Break it down by figuring out how many years you have in front of you before that first college year of payment and establish your goals. Don't fall into the trap of setting it and forgetting it. Revisit your college savings goals from time to time and use time to your advantage. You will be surprised at how far you can get if you keep your discipline and stick to your goals.

 Penny Hauck
Penny Hauck is an avid runner who completed last year's Falmouth Road race with a PR of 1:08.