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mother and daughters readig

(December 9, 2021) It has been quiet this Fall, with both our children away at college. I can’t wait for them to come home for the holidays! One of the first things we will do is attend my daughter’s college graduation! Emotions are mixed; We are extremely proud of her, but we don’t know what the future holds or where she will build her career. One thing we do know is that she will graduate with minimal student loan debt thanks to our savings efforts when she was young. Truly the best gift we have ever given her! 

When they were young, we noticed our kids had more toys than they could ever play with, so we created a family plan to manage gift-giving. We gently asked family and friends who regularly gave to our children to reduce material gifts and consider adding a cash element. We explained our new family rule about cash gifts. Our kids would save half and spend half. Each time they received cash, we talked about how their savings would go toward college or other higher education options they might choose. I’m sure they didn’t fully grasp the intent behind our choices back then, but now that they are using those funds for college, they appreciate the value of having savings to cover college costs. 

A recent holiday trend some families follow is a 4-gift rule: limiting gifts to something each child wants, needs, wears, and reads. A quick Google search will reveal many variations on this approach (5, 7, or 9 gift rules). There are many unique ways to apply this idea of minimal giving. Unfortunately, none of them include what I believe is the most important element: something to save. As the 2021 holiday season approaches, consider clever ways you can introduce college savings into your family gift-giving. 

By Jenn Dyck