How Gratitude Shapes our Financial Journey: Insights from a College Grad

Stephen Crawford |

Today, I want to share a heartwarming story that emerged from our current financial planning class tailored for recent college graduates.


Last week, our discussion centered around college savings. Now, planning for the future education this group’s own children wasn't on the minds of our class participants just yet. However, one young lady's reflection brought a profound realization to light.


She expressed her appreciation for the lesson, revealing how it helped her better appreciate the time, effort and financial resources her parents contributed to save for her college education. As a result, she was able to graduate from college without the burden of student debt, thanks to her parents' foresight and commitment. When I asked her if she had told her parents this, she said “not yet”. However, her parents were coming in town that next weekend and she was going to take them out for a meal, give them a big hug, and thank them for the gift of a free college education! I can’t wait to hear how it went.  


When it comes to saving for a child’s future college, there are a few ways you can go about this. Today, I want to share a few key features of the 529 plan.


  • Tax Advantages: You contribute money after paying taxes on it, and then it grows tax-deferred. And when it's time to use the funds for qualified education expenses, the withdrawals are tax-free too!


  • Qualified Expenses: Withdrawal for qualified expenses are tax free. These include a wide range of college expenses, including tuition, books, room and board, and even computer supplies.


  • Funding Flexibility: There's no minimum amount required to fund a 529 account, but there are some upper limitations. You can contribute up to $18,000 per year per individual or $36,000 a year for a couple (basically the annual gift tax limits). And if you want to go above and beyond, there's an option to "super fund" these accounts for your children or grandchildren's future.


As we wrap up, I invite you to reflect on a time when you felt gratitude for something your parents did for you years before. Share your story in the comments below!