Life Hacks: Baby Edition Part 1 (Saving for College)

 

“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” – Dave Ramsey

A few weeks ago, I was going through my facebook feed and I came to the realization that I never really realized how many of my friends have children, or are expecting to have children! Since The Thrive Vine is a family blog I wanted to address kind of a misunderstanding about kids and finances. I think many people, to some degree or another, believe that kids are expensive; and that if you’re going to have children, your run at financial independence is just about over.

 

Sure you have the big ticket items like college, vacations, maybe even future medical expenses such as little Timmy breaking his ankle jumping from a jungle gym in elementary school (#sorrymomanddad) But what we forget are that children are just mini adults (and some adults are big kids) so if you can fiscally take care of yourself there is no reason why a child should break the bank for you and your family. Today in Life Hacks: Baby Edition Part 1, we are going to be addressing the all elusive college fund and how you can starting investing (not saving) for your baby’s future:

 

College Fund –  I remember any Birthday, Christmas, or Graduation money I got as a kid went into one fund: the college fund. In today’s world  things aren’t much different. In fact, many millennial parents are still paying off their own student loans while saving for their children’s education. I think what many people fail to realize is that college is no longer something that can be saved for; but something that needs to be invested towards.

 

Here’s what I mean: I remember my father telling me when he went to college back in the 70’s his tuition was $700 a semester (I believe this was including books!) I know personally, when I was in college, I spent more than my father’s total semester tuition in books alone almost every semester.

 

What I’m getting at here is that $700 is a very feasible goal to save towards. However what if your child’s tuition is 10k-20k a semester!? There’s a very little likelihood that you are going to save enough money for one semester never mind an entire college education in 17-18 years. However there are two main options that I’d like to share with you for investing towards your child’s college fund:

 

The Real Estate Method –  As you know I’m a real estate investor, and believe that real estate is probably the fastest way to grow your wealth. However what if just one rental property could pay for half if not all of your child’s college education? Here’s a scenario:

 

Say you purchase a rental property on your baby’s first or second birthday for 100k, you put down 20k, which leaves you with an 80k mortgage. Over the next 17-18 years you rent out the house and your tenants pay down another 20k of your mortgage which leaves your mortgage at 60k. Keep in mind the beautiful thing about real estate is appreciation; you purchased a house almost 20 years ago and as the market appreciates in value, so does your home. Lets fast forward to 17-18 years later and your home is now worth 210k due to appreciation and of course any work you put into the house.

 

This means by owning just one rental home for almost 20 years and having your tenants pay down your mortgage you now have 150k in equity! (210k appraised value – 60k your mortgage). So you might be asking how is this going to help with my child’s college fund!?

 

Well you are going to tap into that equity to pay for your child’s college! There are many options for this scenario including Home Equity Loans and HELOC’s however for this scenario let’s use a cash out refinance. In this scenario using a cash out refi you can walk away with 97,500 by refinancing your house. Here’s how:

 

210k (Appraised Value of your home) x 75% LTV (loan to value typically what a bank will lend you) = 157,500k

 

157,500k – 60k (Mortgage) = $97,500.00

 

With any luck $97,500 will hopefully be more than enough to put a dent in any college debt your child might have. Additionally you still have a rental property where your tenant will continue to pay down your mortgage.

 

The Index Fund Method – Believe it or not the greatest asset a parent has when investing for their child’s future is time (if you start early) It just so happens that is what index fund investing is all about; accruing compound returns over a period of time. Here at The Thrive Vine we aren’t exactly financial advisors I can’t tell you which funds to invest in, however from my own experience and readings I can share with you some funds and resources worth exploring.

 

Being a real estate guy I truthfully didn’t know much about index fund investing until I read the Simple Path To Wealth by J.L Collins. In his book, Collins strongly suggests the fund VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index) What index funds do is track the stock market. What does that mean? It means that while many investors will gamble on individual stocks to provide stellar performance, by investing in a U.S total stock market index you are betting on the United States Economy as a whole. VTSAX alone is made up of about 3,600 publicly traded companies including tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.

 

One thing that I didn’t like about VTSAX is that Vanguard requires 10k to start investing, because of this I started investing in SWTSX (Schwab Total Stock Index). While the Schwab index is made up of fewer companies than Vanguard, it doesn’t require a minimum to start trading; additionally if you have a Schwab account you get free trades. Still like Vanguard? No Worries you can invest in VTSAX in EFT form using the ticker VTI.

 

So all of this information might be useful but how is this supposed to help you invest towards your child’s college fund? The great thing about index funds are that they grow! When the market increases your index fund goes up in value. If you continue to invest on a regular basis (whether the market is up or down) your earnings can grow quite a bit. In fact VTSAX has a average 5 year return of 12.83% which isn’t too shabby.

 

The scariest part about index fund investing is when the market goes down. Keep in mind all markets, whether real estate or the stock market go down. The whole mantra behind index fund investing is that you can’t time the market; and you’d be foolish to do so. By investing steadily in your fund and keeping to your game plan you will eventually see gains.

 

When investing for your child’s future the greatest asset you have is time. Although 17-18 years might not seem like alot of time to accumulate a massive amount of money for your child’s education; once your money starts compounding you will certainly be in good shape for your child’s educational future.

Conclusion – How do you plan to save for your child’s college fund? What tips or strategies are you using that you might be able to share? In Part Two we are going to dive a little more into life hacks on how newer parents can save money  (which in turn they can invest) and continue on their journey to financial independence while bringing their little one along for the ride!

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