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Need to save up for college? Stay motivated with these three tips

September is National College Savings Month, and if college is on the horizon for you or your family, saving for it is likely one of your top financial goals. However, if you’re like many Americans, you may be feeling behind in your efforts to put enough away. While there are a number of financial resources to help fund a college education, having dedicated savings for college can make a difference. Saving up can help cover tangible needs like books and housing or ultimately reduce the need for loans that you or your family will have to take out and then pay back after graduation.

Saving for college is a significant and long-term financial commitment, but saving consistently – even small amounts – can add up over time. Here are tips to help you stay focused and motivated to reach your college savings goal: 

Make your savings consistent

With a desired career path in mind and a basic understanding for what kind of education is involved, you can set some goals for your savings . Again, savings isn’t the only way to pay for college, but if you intend on taking out loans, setting aside savings for school can reduce the amount you’ll need to pay back later. The key is making your savings efforts consistent, so you’ll start to see your efforts grow.

If you only have a few years before college, set up a savings program for yourself that puts away a dedicated amount each week or month. Here are a few resources to help you and your family get started:

  • Create a weekly savings goal. Our Savings Plan Tool allows you to calculate a weekly contribution plan based on how much you’d like to save and the amount of time you have to let it build. 
  • Get a good picture of where your money is coming from and where it’s going. Unless you have an accurate picture of your finances, it can be difficult to find the extra money to put away into savings. Use the My New Money Goal worksheet to monitor your income and spending, one month at a time. You’ll begin to find new ways to adjust your spending and savings. 
  • Make your savings automatic. One of the easiest and most effective tactics for setting up a consistent savings program is to make it automatic. This includes setting up automatic weekly or monthly transfers into a savings account, investment account, or 529 program or having your employer directly deposit a portion of your paycheck into savings, investment, or a 529 program.   

Getting a better sense of your financial picture as well as setting up consistent ways to put money aside will help you create a college savings program where you’ll start to see results.

Develop your long-term savings skills

Starting to save now can help you even if your plans or dreams change, or you have a financial setback. If you’ve been tracking your finances and building a habit of savings, you will be better able to revisit your savings goals and adjust them as needed. Over time, you’ll develop positive savings habits to help you recover from any setbacks.

During this September, revisit your goals and passions, and if you’re feeling behind in saving for college, start putting your new savings skills into action. 

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