Author: Shannon Wallace, NEST 529 College Savings Plan Account Owner

In a few short weeks, my only child will be heading to high school. I’m excited and a little worried about the life experiences that await him over the next four years. Reality is also setting in, though; the next four years are really about preparing him for college and being an adult. Is he ready?

Last year I came across an article by a former Stanford College dean, who recommended that by the time a person is 18 years old they should be able to:

  1. Talk to strangers.
  2. Navigate their way from point A to point B.
  3. Manage assignments, workloads and deadlines.
  4. Participate in the running of a household.
  5. Handle interpersonal problems.
  6. Cope with ups and downs in life.
  7. Earn and manage money.
  8. Take risks.

We have some work to do and I’m grateful that my son has four years left to practice. He’s a quiet kid and I may have been a little overzealous with “stranger danger” when he was little. Fortunately, my overzealous nature has helped in being prepared to invest in his college education.

Right after he was born, I started a savings account for monetary gifts I received for him. The account was small and earned a little interest. I knew I needed to do more if I really was committed to helping my son with college expenses, but figured I had time.

Right before he started kindergarten, my employer provided information about the NEST 529 College Savings Plan. The earnings were higher than a savings account, and contributing offered tax savings. Direct deposit from my paycheck could be set up to add to his 529 account every month, and most importantly, the savings can only be used for education-related expenses. The NEST 529 Savings Plan was exactly what I needed to help save for my son’s education, but also reinforces my belief in the importance of pursuing a college degree and preparing my son for the rest of his life.