If how to save money for your kids college fund has been on your mind, you’re in good company.
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College is very expensive and each year the cost keeps creeping up. Since I have a pretty young crew right now (9, 7, 5, 5 months), who knows which body part I’ll have to sell to pay for college by the time they are of age.
While I don’t think college is an absolute must, I do think it’s wise to prepare for it just in case. In a nutshell, I belong to the camp that thinks not everyone is cut out for college. Evey kid should be given a choice. An informed choice.
When we talk about college in our home, I present it to my kids as an option.
Our conversation may go something like this:
“Mom, did you go to college when you finished high school?”
“Yep. I sure did, honey.”
“Will I go to college when I finish high school?”
“That depends on what you want to be when you grow up. College is a great place to further your education, but some career paths don’t require a college degree. Let’s talk about some things you might want to do when you grow up and then we’ll talk about if a college education would be necessary for that job.”
And then we proceed to talk about all the wildly imaginative things they can come up with.
It’s as simple as that. It’s not for everyone, but it most definitely is for some people. With that being said, I want to make sure we are prepared just in case my son’s curiosity leads him into a field where he’ll need an advanced degree.
I have heard of tons of ways to start saving for a kids college fund. Most of the time, they revolve around things the parents can do to put a little extra to the side. Things like having your bank automatically withdraw money from each paycheck and putting it into a special savings account. That way you won’t even miss it because you won’t ever see it in your regular account (great advice for general savings, too!). Also, things like eating out less and letting the money saved accumulate to a nice sum by the end of the month. Or any overtime or bonuses received throughout the year being stashed away. And since you’re not use to seeing that extra money, you’ll never miss having it. And a whole slew of other ideas.
All these are great ideas, but why not get the kids involved, too! You can get them excited about saving for a long term goal and potentially be saving double the amount with the kids and the parents working together at it. In order for it to make a significant impact on the bottom line, whatever the kids do has to be something scale-able. It also can’t be something that would take away from other important areas of their lives like school, sports, social activities, etc. After all, we don’t want to rob them of their present in order to prepare them for their futures.
In addition to parents stashing funds away, here are four unique ways kids can make money for their own college fund:
1. Write a book
My son is constantly telling me silly jokes that he makes up. One day, I had a light bulb come on. Why can’t we write down all these cute jokes and when we have enough, I’ll turn it into an ebook!
In today’s online world, it is so easy to create an ebook and self-publish it. Gone are the days of pitching ideas to countless publishing agencies hoping that one will validate your idea with a deal. Nope. Now we have the power to do it ourselves. And why not leverage this power to help our kids futures? If you have a writer in your midst, start saving those short stories that she pumps out and put them together into a collection of “short stories for kids” book. Or do you have a poet? Make sure she’s writing down all of her poems so they can be turned into an ebook. The sky is the limit really. Get creative, help them think of some ideas, write them down and publish!
Check out this short video about publishing to Kindle Direct Publishing. They make it really easy to do everything from writing your book to getting it in front of the right audience.
KDP publishing not your cup of tea? No worries. The Penny Hoarder blog has an article about the advantages and disadvantages of going the KDP route as well as a good overview of the process.
How cool will it be for your kids to tell their friends they have a published book for sell on Kindle or the Apple store?
2. Start a blog
Did you know that you (or a kid) can make money from blogging? It’s true. If you do a search online, you can find numerous people who have been generous enough to share how much and in what ways they earn money from blogging.
So, if they can do it, why can’t the kids? They can!
I know of several teens that like writing and have embarked on the journey of blogging. If you have a child that has an opinion they love to express, a blog may be the perfect outlet. Having a kid blogger could give the world a new perspective on things.
Some topics that may be kid-friendly could include:
- educational topics (homework help, favorite book reviews)
- kid fashion
As long as parents are around to keep an eye on things and edit when necessary, it could work out well. If nothing else, it can help them polish their writing skills for those college essays.
Cara Sue Achterberg has a section on her blog exclusively for teen writers. You can find contests, places to submit original articles, awards for writers, or even get feedback directly from her through email. Her teen writers resource page is updated regularly.
If you want to know how to make money blogging, check out this article from Amy Lynn Andrews. It is a pretty exhaustive list of the ways bloggers make money.
3. Start a Youtube Channel
Didn’t know you could make money with a Youtube channel, either? There are countless channels either starring kids or for kids. In fact, there are so many that Youtube created a completely different platform called Youtube Kids just for kid content. If you have never checked out some of the kid channels, here are a few to give you an idea of what can be done.
There is some serious money to be made on Youtube if your kiddo isn’t camera shy.
If you are interested in taking this route, check out Tim Schmoyer’s channel. It’s called Video Creators and he gives amazing advice about starting, growing and maintaining a channel.
People will pay good money for a good photographer. In more ways than one.
If your child has taken an interest in photography, why not let them practice those skills by booking appointments with clients that want their picture taken. Have them practice taking pictures of animals and objects to build their skill and portfolio, then when the time is right, start booking paying clients. If you feel they need a little more polishing around the edges, offer discounts to customers and make sure they know that you have a budding photographer that appreciates them letting him practice his skill with them.
Another way to use photography to make money is to sell photographs. Stock photo sites will license your pictures to paying customers and you will get a commission in return. This method doesn’t pay as much, but it’s a start.
Or you could sell photos directly to customers and keep 100% of the profits. The right customer will pay for pictures of anything from food and toys to other random people.
5. Design and Sell T-Shirts
T-shirts are a hot item right now. People love having clever sayings and fun pictures on their clothing.
If you have a budding artist, this may be just the venue for them to show off their artistic skills. They can create designs to print on t-shirts.
Have a clever punster in your home? Capitalize on all that sass, and put some of those puns in writing on a shirt.
It’s actually pretty easy to offer t-shirts with original work on them. Create the graphic or slogan, upload it to your distributor of choice’s website, and let them handle the sales. It’s as easy as that.
Amazon has a special marketplace just for t-shirts. Read about selling t-shirts on Amazon here.
When you think of ways to start saving for your kids college fund, remember they can help! Depending on their age and interests, let them get creative with what they can do.
They may even be able to continue making money through college in whatever way you get them started at home!
More resources for teaching kids about money…