I’m not a tax expert but my understanding is that, generally, you need to have earned income (or some form of taxable compensation) to contribute to an IRA. If you’re working full-time in a regular job, then you may have enough earned income to make a full contribution of $5,500 as long as you meet other requirements. But if you work part-time, then you may not make enough to contribute this amount; still, you may be able to contribute up to the amount of your earned income.
It seems that we have been trained to borrow money rather than save and invest. Even those of us who are savers and investors barely think twice about getting a car loan, student loan, mortgage loan, home equity loan, etc. or putting charges on a credit card. As a result, we may (falsely) believe that debt is inevitable and forever.
If I had young children and wanted to set aside money for their education today, I would choose a 529 Plan over a Coverdell ESA or UTMA/UGMA account. I’d also be smarter about the way I funded the account, either arranging gifts directly to an account (for grandparents, aunts, and uncles who ask what my kids want for birthday and Christmas celebrations) or placing cash gifts my kids received into an account. Here are tips on how to channel gifts to college savings.