Small Hacks That Help You Add More to Your Child’s College Fund

Saving for the kids’ college fund is something that most parents feel they should be doing, but for various reasons — be it a pile of debt including their own student loans or an income that doesn’t stretch far enough to meet all of their savings goals — many aren’t making the progress they desire.

According to a recent survey conducted by Credit Sesame, 78 percent have contributed to their kids’ college fund, while 40 percent still feel that they’ll have to work longer than planned in order to pay off their kids’ student loans.

What if it were possible to painlessly stash away some extra cash each and every month, adding up to a nice chunk of change when the kids graduate from high school?

Use a rewards credit card to pay bills

Savvy spenders like to put every single purchase on their rewards credit cards in order to accumulate points. The key here is to do the same but rather than cashing out the points for a gift card to Starbucks or Sephora, get it in the form of a deposit to your bank or PayPal account.

Data from Credit Sesame’s six million users show that the average monthly credit card debt is $4,701. Let’s assume that these people are using a 1 percent cash back rewards credit card. That means they can earn around $47 each month, or roughly $564 a year.

Link store cards to Upromise to get money back

If you are looking to open a credit card specifically designed to link your store rewards card to a credit card, check out Upromise. You can get back a small amount of cash back each time you shop at a participating store.

Additional cash rewards can be earned at restaurants, travel websites, shopping online or with their branded credit card.

Though you won’t get rich from this, you might get a few dollars a month, it’s an easy way to double-dip on rewards and save a tiny bit more each time you make a purchase. Earnings can be sent to you in a check or direct deposited into your child’s 529 account.

Start all online shopping through a cash back ‘portal’

Online shopping portals, or websites, like Ebates and Shop At Home will give you a small percentage of your purchase back when you initiate a purchase through their referral link. Each retailer has a different amount of cash back, but it’s not unreasonable to get back 2-8 percent on purchases, each year this could add up to nearly $100 or more.

Let’s be conservative and say you buy $500 worth of clothing and toys, throughout the year, from Target and Old Navy’s websites, at 2 percent back, that’s $10. Add in birthday and holiday gifts to the tune of $800, assuming 5 percent cash back, and you’ve got another $40. That’s an extra $50 for just a few extra minutes and clicks.

Use Swagbucks and MyPoints to earn rewards that can be converted into cash and directed to your kids’ college fund

Rather than using Google as your search engine, you can switch to the ones offered by Swagbucks or MyPoints and earn extra bucks or points that you can then convert into PayPal cash.

You can download a toolbar to automatically use it as your search engine, and with MyPoints you can get additional points by printing coupons and reading emails.

Swagbucks rewards you for watching videos and taking surveys, plus you can start your online shopping through one of these sites and earn extra points. Spend a few minutes each day on these sites and you could end the year $300 richer.

You won’t max out your kids’ college funds with these methods, but why would you pass up free money? The above examples add up to an extra $700 a year. Invest this in your child’s college fund each year, from age 5-18, with a 6 percent rate of return, that’s roughly $9,310 when they graduate from high school.

It may only pay for part of a semester, but that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at for being purely free money and interest!

Post written by Jessica, a financial editor working on the Credit Sesame research team. We research interesting topics in the financial industry, specifically those concerning personal finance and how they relate to your everyday life.

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I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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