Double the Children, Double the College Tuition: How Parents Can Start Saving Now

By Maria Rainier

As if raising a newborn wasn’t already as expensive as it is, raising twins can really take a strain on your finances. After all, you have to purchase double the amount of diapers, clothes, toys and, eventually, double the college tuition. We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t it a bit early to think about college? Not really. Experts suggest saving as early as birth to help secure your children’s future. While keeping your fingers crossed that at least one of your children will score a scholarship or grant, it’s better to start preparing now in case this does not happen. That said, to learn a few ways you can start saving for your twins’ college education, continue reading below.

529 Plan

The most popular choice with most parents is a 529 plan, which is a state- or educational institution-operated savings plan. There are two different options: savings or prepaid. A savings plan works very similar to an IRA. It grows tax-free and allows you to choose from several investment options — whichever stocks and bonds you choose to invest in will determine the total amount of money the beneficiary (your child) will receive once he or she reaches a certain age. The prepaid option allows parents to pre-pay all or partial parts of their child’s college education. It’s important to remember that the price of tuition varies over time, so pre-paying might not be the best choice. It’s good to know there are also some tax breaks available in most states when getting a 529 Plan.

Coverdell Education Savings Account

Another popular savings choice is obtaining a Coverdell Education Savings Account. It’s very similar to a 529 plan in terms of the fact that it can grow tax-free, but this saving plan has restrictions — you cannot put more than $2,000 in the account each year, and your child must also use the money before he or she turns 30 years old.

Gerber Life College Plan

Technically, this is an endowment life insurance policy to help your children survive financially if you experience a premature death; however, the Gerber Life College Plan is also backed as a college savings fund. Once your account reaches its maturity date and you’re still alive and kicking, that money can be used for your child’s education. There is no investing. You choose the amount of money you want to contribute each month (which eventually becomes your fixed premium). However, there is a guarantee that your benefit payout will be larger than what you contributed.

Upromise

Last but not least is Upromise, offered by loan lender Sallie Mae. This is a different approach at savings since it allows you to save for your child’s education every time you make purchases. Upromise is partnered with more than 8,000 chain restaurants and thousands of other retail stores. Every time you make a purchase at these locations, 25 percent of your purchase goes into your child’s college fund.

Maria Rainier is an avid education blogger, particularly in the area of online learning and higher education. She’ll gladly dole out her wisdom to anyone who will read her advice, from prospective students considering online degrees to course instructors frustrated with the efficacy of their lesson plans.

Parents of Twins Create Braincandy DVDs, CDs and More

By Sam Reich-Dagnen

Once upon a time, when our twins–Blaise and Logan–were almost three, my husband and I had a vision. That vision was enough motivation to rethink our lives, our sense of family and our careers . . . soon Braincandy was born! In April of 2004 we quit our jobs and set up an office in the laundry room of our Seattle home. Having young twins was a handful and like all parents there were times when we just needed a little down time to take a shower or make dinner! In our diligent efforts to be conscientious parents, we discovered that what we were looking for–developmentally appropriate content that truly engaged our children rather than just putting them to sleep–wasn’t available. That’s when we began to form the ideas and concepts behind Braincandy. Editing our first DVD between “spin cycles” and the zen-like sounds of our Kenmore dryer, we saw our vision turn into reality.

Educational or entertaining? Why should a parent have to choose? With Braincandy, our approach is to infuse the fun back into learning and to honor each child’s ability to construct meaning on their own. Our first product offering, a series of developmental DVDs and CDs, is based on children learning about themselves and the world through their five senses. Our sweet, simple recipe forms the fundamental building blocks for early learning and begins to lay a foundation for social and emotional development. The content combines real kids doing real things, funny sense part puppets, simple face animations in bright bold colors and our ever popular Ipodders (silhouetted dancers), all set against a background of engaging, “kidified” music from reggae to classical and more.

We are not experts; in fact, we’re simply parents like you trying to give our children great opportunities to build the foundation for independent, creative thinking. We believe at this early developmental stage that this is accomplished through active play and experimentation. In a world where children are overstressed and expectations are built around traditional “outcome” driven models, our goal is to offer an alternative to parents. After conducting exhaustive research with the numerous studies and books available on the topic of early childhood development, and interviewing hundreds of parents, we’ve found that parents are looking for tools that help bring a more balanced approach to child-rearing and education.

At Braincandy, we believe passionately that young children are natural “creators” and “inventors” who desire to be challenged every day, asking questions and connecting the dots. Feeding that sense of wonder lets young children and their families worry less, play more and develop a life long love of learning.

Visit www.braincandykids.com to learn more about our DVDs, CDs, clothes and toys.