The Gift of Experiences & Education
Call me that “boring one” that shows up to your kid’s birthday party with a check or cash earmarked for your their college savings account or bank account. Why? We as a society are way too obsessed with “stuff” we have to have. Production costs on goods has never been lower, making the ever-increasing surplus of goods available for consumption off-the-charts. But, those products, goods, items…they’ll all end up at a yard sale some day. You know it. I know it. We all know it.
What won’t end up at a yard sale? A once-in-a-lifetime experience or education.
We are attempting to raise our children with the mindset that they don’t need to have every tangible good at their discretion, and to spend money wisely. We’re totally serious when we tell even the closest of family and friends, that they don’t need any more “stuff.” Spend your money wisely and help us pay for college education, that’s projected to be at $207k+* per child, by the time they reach college age. Small amounts early can have a huge impact on the 529 Educational Savings Plan account growth.
When I bring cash or check to a kids birthday party, I’ll leave it up to you as parents on what you do with it exactly. But, it’s way more valuable than something that certainly will depreciate in time. Checks are super easy to deposit through smart phones / devices into online accounts now, and cash are for the parties where I may not know the kids and/or their families well.
I don’t know if people are embarrassed to say they would rather not have more stuff? I’m certainly not. A financial contribution, that may even be smaller than your original gift idea, wrap, card, etc. will net way more long-term happiness in my child’s life than any toy ever could. And, it’s one less thing we have to move too, as we relocate to a better school district in the near future.
Next time you’re attending a child’s birthday party, ask the parents what they really need…another toy or money in their bank account to grow for the future. This is the same for grandparents too…buy the kid a swim class, art class, gym class, etc. — often the parents will have a running wishlist of ideas you can select from. It will mean way more to that kid. And, the parents who are footing the bill for daycare ($10,000-$20,000/year), diapers, formula, clothes, possible out-of-pocket fertility treatment, etc. will love and thank you more too. I promise!
*According to the US Department of Education, the average annual cost of public school increased 6.5 percent each year over the last decade. That means that by 2032, annual public tuition will be $51,698. The total cost for a four-year degree will be more than $206,792.
- Clark Howard’s 529 Plan Guide: the best state plans nationwide with the lowest fees