Student Finances

4 Surprising Moments to Start Saving for College

When is the right time to start saving for college? Most financial experts will tell you “right now” or “as soon as possible.” Indeed, if you’re in a financial position to start saving today, you should – even if your child isn’t born yet (more on that later). But there are many reasons that you might not be in a financial position to save right this moment (like maybe you’re still paying off your student loans!) but none of these reasons should stop you from setting up a 529 College Savings Plan for others to contribute.

At CollegeBacker, we’ve found that there are many early moments when friends & family want to help! Here are a few ideas for when to start saving for college:

1) Your Baby Shower

Once you’ve filled your baby registry with the perfect stroller, car seat, and a lifetime supply of diapers… what’s next? Inviting contributions to your child’s college savings can be a great way to ensure you’re getting the most meaningful gift, instead of filling your home with more stuff that will ultimately go unused. Plus, it’s a great way for distant relatives to get involved, even if they live across the country.

2) Your Birth Announcement

So, you’re posting on Facebook with a cute photo announcing your baby to the world. How many “likes” is that going to get – over a hundred? What if every “like” also added $5 to your baby’s college fund? Now, that’s a great way to welcome someone into the world!

3) Your Baby’s Early Birthdays

Let’s face it. Your baby isn’t going to remember the gifts from those early birthdays, so why not ask for a gift that lasts longer than your baby’s attention span? These are wonderful moments to turn what would have been a pile of forgotten toys and outgrown clothes into kickstarting your child’s college fund with a few hundred dollars.

4) And… right now.

Sorry, we couldn’t avoid this answer! There’s no time like today to set up your child’s college savings plan, even if you only set aside a few dollars a month and ask 1-2 close family members (e.g., grandparents, siblings) to commit to a small monthly contribution. Not only will you save more, but your savings will grow more.

Wait, is this really possible with a 529 College Savings Plan?

Yes! 529s are more flexible than you might think. At CollegeBacker, we’ve studied the rules around 529s so that we can help you navigate them. If your child is not born yet, we can help you setup the account in advance, including accepting contributions from your family and friends. When your child is born and assigned a Social Security Number, we’ll help you update the account appropriately. These technical details shouldn’t stop you from getting started with saving – especially since there are so many early moments when people want to help!

P.S. There are no age limits on 529s, so you can start one for yourself too! Grad school, here we come!


CollegeBacker is an SEC-registered investment adviser dedicated to helping families save for college. With CollegeBacker, parents can find the right tax-advantaged 529 College Savings Plan, determine a personalized savings goal, and invite family & friends to contribute. Plus, anyone can use CollegeBacker to kickstart another child’s college savings plan.