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Grandma reading to her granddaughter

(September 27, 2021) Traditionally the holiday season is the period from Thanksgiving through the New Year. But unofficially, I believe it starts in October. That’s when the air is cool, sweaters are back on, and pumpkin spice, apple cider and mocha lattes are at the top of my must have beverage list. But no matter when it officially starts, it’s my favorite season of the year.

For most people, a gift always conjures up visions of boxes wrapped with bows, happy, smiling faces and the joyful anticipation of what’s inside. What I love most about giving a gift is that it’s meaningful, practical, and useful. My hope is the gift I give brings joy and creates a memory to reflect on. That’s why every holiday and life event celebration for my grandchildren, one of the gifts I give them is money. Not cash in an envelope or gift card, but money for their future. Specifically for their future education through deposits I make into each of their 529 college savings accounts.

My three grandchildren (ages 10, 5 and 2) all have Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) accounts with Washington 529 College Savings Plans (WA529). GET, like all other 529 plans, is a tax-advantaged savings plan for their future education expenses. When ready to transition from high school, they can pursue further education through a variety of pathways. They won’t be limited to a particular school or even a school in Washington state. Depending on interests and career goals they will have many options. They might choose to attend a traditional college or university, enroll in certificated career training or join an apprenticeship program. They can choose to go to nearly any school in the U.S. and even some schools abroad. Like all parents and grandparents I have ideas, thoughts and hopes about what they will pursue in their lifetime. I wonder what they will do in the world and what they will be when they grow up. One thing is certain – they will have many choices. Only time will tell what path they will choose.

This gift I give every holiday and life event is not just about the money. It’s much bigger than that for me. It’s a way to leave a little of me in their future. The gift goes beyond the moment of giving; it lives in their choices and the plans they make for their lives. Today, at their age, these gifts may not seem like much to them. Yet I know when they pursue their dreams, this gift will last a lifetime and leave them with a sense of financial freedom. As the saying goes, “a little goes a long way”!

By Jackie Ferrado 

WA529 Community Relations Manager