I’ve been homeschooling for more than twenty-five years with, so far, two college graduates and one child in the process. Overall, my kids thrived in college. They got good grades, made good friends, and blossomed into godly adults. They all went to secular local and state colleges, yet their relationship with God grew.
Do you have a teen about to head to college (or maybe you’ve just started your parenting journey and are looking to prep and save for your child’s future education)? Here are some tips for preparing them and your finances:
As parents, be involved.
John and I loved having teens. We had dinner nightly with them, we served in church together, and we curated long, meaningful talks. To do this, we had to be open, available, and involved. We cut back on our personal recreation, work, and goals to have time with them. This prepared our children’s hearts by proving they were worthy. They had the attention of their parents and didn’t seek it from unhealthy relationships in college.
Have an open-door policy.
Our house was open for our teens’ friends to join us for dinner, for games, or for just hanging out. We made sure our house was teen-friendly, and we filled the fridge and pantry with snacks. Sometimes their friends came to hang out even when our kids weren’t there! Our children had solid friendships with other godly teens when they entered college; this foundation allowed them to be friends with unbelievers, too, yet also remain strong in God.
Encourage a knowledge of God’s Word and a deep commitment to God.
Our children were not perfect in college. They messed up (such as when our daughter performed in a theater production we considered questionable!). When they didn’t want to listen to our advice, God’s Spirit and God’s Word spoke to them. When my husband and I couldn’t get their attention, God did! Their relationships with God pointed them to truth for college and beyond!
Start saving now.
If you haven’t started a college savings yet, don’t worry. It’s never too late to save—every bit makes a difference. If you didn’t get around to establishing a college savings account early on, you’re not alone. Only 48 percent of parents surveyed are saving for their child’s education, according to Sallie Mae’s “How America Saves for College 2015” report. You can still maximize your investment toward your child’s college education, even if the college-bound kid is a high school senior already.
Need a few ideas to get started? Here are just a few tips from ECCU:
—Consider using auto-deposit services to save. ECCU likes to call this strategy, “auto-magic.”
—Encourage your college-bound youth to find a part-time job and invest the paycheck into a high-yield savings account with built-in perks, such as free online banking and transfers, and an interest rate above the national average.
—Money market savings accounts are a smart choice for college savings – they offer better rates for higher balances. High yield promotional certificates with guaranteed rates are good for saving money that you do not need to access for several years down the road.
—Don’t be discouraged if you can’t foot the entire college bill. Even if you choose to set aside funds to cover tuition for one or two semesters, or textbooks for an entire year … every dollar you save will help your aspiring college graduate!
Most people already know the benefits of credit unions, such as customer ownership, fewer fees and higher savings rates. However, there is a segment of credit unions that continue to fly under the financial radar: Affinity-based banking—the intersection of faith and financial planning.
For most of its 50-year history, ECCU has been known for offering churches, Christian schools and other Evangelical nonprofits and ministries with specialized financial services. Now, ECCU also offers personal financial services:
—Personal savings account: a basic savings account for an emergency fund or savings for your kids that’s only $25 to open and has a 0.35% APY2 with no minimum balance.
—Money Market Savings account: a great opportunity to earn a higher rate (up to 0.95% APY2 on higher balances. This direct savings account—also called an online savings account—appeals to on-the-go consumers who prefer to be able to manage their lives online.
—Consumers can get these great rates because ECCU is largely an online bank.
Simple Math: Your savings + ECCU = More Ministry
With ECCU, your money does more than earn a good interest rate for you. It helps fuel Christ-centered ministry worldwide by providing loans to churches and low-cost banking services to missionaries and Christian organizations. Together, you + ECCU = supporting and resourcing more ministry.
What about you? In what ways are you preparing your teens’ hearts and your finances for college?
GIVEAWAY: Need to kickstart your college savings?
Enter ECCU’s #ECCU4school giveaway below and you could win $1,000!
The contest runs from May 19 – June 19, 2015. The qualified winner must open an ECCU Money Market Savings account where the $1,000 will be deposited. Click here for official rules: http://bit.ly/ECCU4U
*Thanks for ECCU for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting all Tricia Goyer collaborations and sponsors.