Woman with laptop computer paying bills at homeIt’s a new year and I am two weeks into my new year’s resolutions and doing pretty well! Near the end of 2015, I read a lot of different advice and strategies about how to successfully keep resolutions, and I have tried to adopt those that will help me reach my 2016 goals.

As MEFA’s Director of College Planning and the parent of one child in college and one child in high school, one of my resolutions is to continue to save for college, and I urge others to do the same. Here are some of the success tips I’m using – I encourage you to adopt them as well so that you, too, can successfully save for college this year.

Just get started!
For some, the new year is a good time to make changes. For others, it may seem like an arbitrary date. Whatever style of new beginnings fits you, just pick a time to start. In my work, I find that many families delay saving for college because they either don’t believe they have enough extra money to start a college savings account or can’t decide on the best savings option. I understand these concerns and they can be figured out in time but one great way to kick start a goal is to start. Consider plans such as the U.Fund 529 College Investing Plan and the U.Plan Prepaid Tuition Program and start saving a small amount (or a large amount if you are able) right away. The key is to designate the money specifically for college savings.

Make it convenient.
Setting up an automated way to put money aside for college savings makes the process of saving for college easier. Once you designate a college savings account, set it up to automatically withdraw from your paycheck or a checking or savings account. In doing so, you won’t have to think about it every month and you’ll save yourself from having to make too many decisions.

Tell others.
Accountability is a positive driver in habit formation. Tell your child you’ve started a college savings account for him or her. Research shows that students who know they have a college savings account are more engaged in their own education. Also tell friends and family that you started the account. Many college savings options make it easy for friends and family to contribute to the account for birthdays, holidays, or other special events, such as the U.Fund  College Gifting option.

Monitor.
Review your college savings plan at least once a year. Take the time to learn more about different savings options and see if you can allocate even more money in your budget toward saving for college.

As you continue to save, stay on track with MEFA. We share savings tips, calculators and helpful resources on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so be sure to like us and follow us. And we’re always including key information in our emails, so sign up for those if you haven’t already. We look forward to guiding you through every step of college planning.