529 Plan Gifts, How to Ask

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.

College Savings: Three Accounts to Consider

When I started saving for my children’s education, 529 Plans weren’t yet introduced. So I saved within a UTMA/UGMA and then a Coverdell Education Savings Account. Each type of account seemed to have advantages and drawbacks. I wanted to save more for college in a designated account. But I had heard (more than once) that parents can’t borrow money for their retirement in the way that children can borrow for their education.

Eventually I came to realize that just because my retirement is a financial priority doesn’t mean I couldn’t set aside some money for my kids’ education. Even if though I didn’t save for the entire college experience — tuition, fees, room, board, books, study abroad, etc. — what I tucked away was extremely useful.