Author: Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha

At NEST 529, we work every day to provide Account Owners with the tools they need to achieve their savings goals. Today, we’re highlighting one of the most simple and effective strategies that families can use to grow their college savings: increasing account contributions.

Contributing regularly to your NEST 529 account has a big impact over time – it steadily builds up your principle investment, while giving your portfolio greater opportunity to grow and re-invest earnings through compounding.

To complement this growth, increasing regular contributions –either in amount, frequency, or both– is one of the smartest moves an Account Owner can make. When you increase the amount you contribute over time, your principle and potential earnings have the opportunity to grow more rapidly, helping you to meet your goal as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Ready to get started increasing your contributions? Consult our three-step guide.

Make a Commitment

Everyday life gets busy, especially as a parent. In all the hubbub, it can be easy to focus on just the day-to-day and overlook planning for the future. For many families, a key to growing your college savings is to take the time to re-commit to your long-term goals.

Ensure that you are keeping up to date on your NEST 529 savings and working proactively to meet your goals by taking the following actions:

1. Check your savings goals against what you have saved so far. How is your progress?

2. Check your disposable income. What has changed since the last time you made your college savings budget? Can you afford to save more?

3. Decide how much and when you will contribute. Take the new information from this check-in and apply it to your college savings strategy going forward.

Plan Contributions

After renewing your commitment to saving for higher education, it’s time to develop a game plan to meet this commitment. Some of the most effective tools to keep up and increase regular contributions are the Automatic Investment Plan (AIP) and Payroll Direct Deposit. AIP allows you to automatically contribute to your NEST 529 account directly from your personal checking or bank savings account, and Payroll Direct Deposit allows you to contribute after-tax dollars straight from your paycheck. These automatic tools ensure you never miss a contribution, and make it easy to increase contributions consistently over time.

In addition to regular AIP and Payroll Direct Deposit contributions, there are many other ways to keep up your savings momentum. For example, consider contributing in celebration of milestones and events, from graduations and birthdays to good report cards and sports victories. When you have a boost in income, such as a raise, tax refund or bonus, this is another opportunity to celebrate with a contribution. Integrating these joyous moments into the college savings process is a fun and engaging means of increasing contributions and fostering sustained growth.

And, of course, there’s never a bad time to contribute a little extra to your NEST 529 account. “Just because” can be the best reason of all!

Get Support from Family and Friends

One of the best things about saving for college is that you don’t have to do it alone. How many times have relatives and friends asked what to give a child for their birthday? Or for a significant milestone such as graduating from kindergarten or elementary school? In every situation, you now have the perfect answer: encourage your loved ones to contribute to your NEST 529 account!

Ugift, the free online gifting service, makes it easy for friends and family members to contribute to a child’s account via electronic transfer from their bank account or mail, without having to register or pay a service fee. 

NEST 529 scholarships are another savings tool that the whole family can participate in. Whether that means keeping up to date on new scholarships with the NEST 529 Facebook page, writing a ‘Dear Grandchild’ letter or encouraging children to hit the books for the NEST 529 Read and Win Drawing, scholarships are an opportunity to boost savings and spark conversations about higher education preparation.

No matter your child’s age, increasing contributions is a smart choice to grow your savings for their future. How much will you contribute?

For any additional questions regarding contributions or NEST 529, reach out to us at clientservice@nest529direct.com, or by calling 1-888-993-3746.