Automated Contributions Can Grow Your 529 Savings
By: South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Administrator of Future Scholar College Savings Plan
The flowers, the trees, the birds, even the seasonal allergies signal spring is here. It’s always refreshing – aside from the allergies – to welcome a new season of growth. And it’s good to remember that growth doesn’t need to be limited to nature. Perhaps this spring, you’ll consider taking up a new hobby to help you grow your skill set. Or maybe this is the season you’ll choose to make a simple change to your Future Scholar 529 savings routine that could move you closer to your education goals.
Automate your savings.
We all know daily spending can add up. Before you know it, the money you intended to contribute to a 529 account has been frittered away, and you’ve skipped a month – or maybe even a year – of contributions. Sometimes life just happens and you forget to deposit money for important educational savings. It happens all the time, but it doesn’t have to.
You can set up electronic bank transfers that will move whatever amount of money you choose into your 529 account on a regular basis, perhaps every two weeks or every month. These automatic contributions, even in small amounts, add up over time. You only need your bank routing number and your account number, and you’re ready to set up your automatic transfers.
Choose direct deposit.
Today, most employers pay their employees through direct deposit. It’s a safe and speedy way to compensate workers.
Beyond basic employee compensation, many employers have begun to offer their workers the capability of splitting direct deposits to flow into multiple accounts. For example, part of your paycheck can be sent to a checking account and a portion can be sent to an investment account, such as a Future Scholar 529 college savings account. You don’t miss the money because it deposits before you see it.
Simply the best
Whether through electronic transfer or direct deposit, the simplicity of automating contributions is getting rave reviews across the country. A study by the Consumer Federation of America found that 83% of Americans think automatically transferring funds is the most effective way to save.
Here’s a quick look at why automating your contributions makes achieving consistent savings easy.
- You save time. You won’t have to log into your 529 account every month to submit your payment.
- You have nothing to remember. Automating contributions mean you can set it and forget it.
- You pay yourself. By automating your contribution, you pay yourself the money that will help cover the cost of a child’s education in the future.
- You stay on course. Automatic contributions put the guardrails in place that keep you on the road to reaching your savings goal.
- You stay in charge. You can always take the guardrails off. It’s easy to adjust or stop recurring contributions if your financial situation changes.
Even though automating your contributions is a no-brainer, it’s still a good idea to set aside a specific time to check into your 529 account. Spring is the perfect occasion to take a look at your 529 growth and analyze any changes in your salary to see if you’re able to contribute more to your account. Next, take time to check your tax status. Are you getting a refund you could add to your education savings? Or maybe you need a tax deduction. In South Carolina, Future Scholar allows you to make 529 contributions up until the April 18 tax deadline and deduct them from your 2022 state income tax return.
Growing time is here, and that applies to your finances, too. When you set up automatic 529 contributions to save for future education, you give your money the chance to grow as your child does. Before you know it, you’ll be very glad you did.
About the author: Curtis Loftis is the State Treasurer of South Carolina. He also serves as the administrator of South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan. Visit treasurer.sc.gov or futurescholar.com for more information on ways to save through a 529 plan. A version of this article originally appeared on the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN).