Many parents find saving for college challenging, between childcare expenses, food, clothing that's constantly being outgrown, lessons, and the occasional vacation. But according to a recent CNN Money article, making a few small adjustments can go a long way towards lowering household debt and putting family finances on a more solid foundation. Here are seven ways to find funds for college:
1. Pay off high-interest credit cards first. If you only pay the minimum monthly amount on your credit cards, you are being charged high-interest rates, plus additional fees if your payments are late. Interest and penalties can add up to hundreds of dollars each year per card.
2. Renegotiate with credit card companies for lower rates. Some credit card companies charge cardholders excessive interest rates. And if you have a history of bad credit, rates can shoot up dramatically. Only keep cards that have a low APR (annual percentage rate) and refrain from using your higher-rate cards. Sometimes you can renegotiate with the credit card companies to reduce your current interest rate.
3. Pay with cash or debit card. The less you carry on your credit cards, the better. Avoid adding more debt to your existing cards. If you don't have the cash or a debit card, think twice about purchasing something you don't absolutely need.
4. Scale back discretionary spending. Make a list of your monthly expenses. Review everything from your cable package to your cell phone plan. Don't renew magazines you hardly read. Consider eating out less frequently, and pack a lunch to take to work.
5. Keep a log of monthly expenses. Input all your bills on a spreadsheet or list them in a ledger. It's a great way to keep track of your spending habits and maintain a family budget. There are also many websites (such as Mint or BillShrink) that can help you save money or assist with personal finances.
6. Use public transportation instead of driving. Gas is really expensive these days. Websites such as GasBuddy can find you the lowest gas prices in your area. Or consider taking the train or bus to work instead.
7. Ride a bike on the weekend. Bike riding is great exercise and saves wear and tear on your vehicle.
Special thanks to CEDARS corporate sponsor, State Farm, for this month’s tips. For more tips or to read the full article click here.