Talking to folks about parenting skills. What are your nuggets of advice?
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Seven Important Facts You May Want To Know About Saving For College by: Robert Walsh

Major Corporations want to be able to hire college graduates. The average college graduate makes approximately 70% more than the average high school graduate in his working career. The cost of college is increasing faster than the inflation rate. Dollar wise, the cost of college increases at more than $1,000 per year. If you are able to SAVE $480 per month with an interest rate of 3.5% in a College Fund from the time your child is born to the time you send him/her off to college at age 18, you will have paid for 4 years at a public college or university ($145,000) with today’s projection. With an average of 40% savings of monthly shopping costs for food and household goods, you can save an extra $226 per month to invest in a college-savings-plan. Scholarships and grants are available for families based on yearly incomes of $65,000 or less. Saving-and-paying for college may not be as difficult as you think. Save-money with everyday-shopping is the smart-way to save-for-college. Generally, the more you hear about the high rising costs for a college education today, the cost factor becomes more frightening every year for the average American family. As with anything that is frightening we try to avoid it. We hide from it. We may even want to bury our heads in the sand, and hope that it just goes away. Or it paralyzes us into non-action. No matter what one’s response to fear is…as loving parents you will have to face the challenge head on one day… and the earlier the better. Facing a fear head on, even as children, is ultimately how we all conquer our fears. So let’s journey together, it’s easier than doing it by one’s self…there’s safety in numbers. And you may become a lot safer with these numbers to plan, save, and pay for a college education for your son or daughter. "SHOP-SMART SHOPPING-TIPS SAVE MONEY" will be our slogan. Let's start with some guidelines or rules. The guideline or RULE #1 is very simple: NEVER PAY FULL PRICE for anything you buy. With a little bit of effort you will be surprised how much you can SAVE before you go out shopping. According to a new poll conducted by the consumer Reports National Research Center for “ShopSmart” magazine, (women) shoppers who use coupons and store loyalty cards save over 10% a year on groceries…estimated to be the equivalent of $678 a year with an average weekly shopping trip of $116.00. Actually, YOU CAN DO A LOT BETTER THAN TEN PERCENT! The women in the survey used their coupons occasionally, and they did not necessarily use all of them. This leads to RULE #2 - ALWAYS SIGN UP FOR STORE-LOYALTY CARDS. Don’t miss out on a sale. Sign up at all the local grocery stores in your area, and it’s FREE. Each week different stores have different items on sale. For example, if you have a loyalty card for store A, but not store B; and your brand of coffee or laundry detergent goes on Sale at store B, you will miss the SALE. And you pay FULL PRICE at store A because there was no Sale on your coffee or laundry detergent there this week. BE SMART….SHOP SMART makes the loyalty cards work for you. BE LOYAL TO YOURSELF and SAVE MONEY! RULE #3 - TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SAVINGS- ALWAYS USE COUPONS. Coupons are easy to obtain. Check your Sunday Newspaper first, go online, and check the store sale ads both in the mail and in the store. Rule #4 - ALWAYS STOCK UP, and BUY IN BULK WHAT IS ON SALE when it is a highly used item or high ticket item like coffee or laundry detergent. For example, your brand of coffee which is regularly priced as $10.99 for a large can (34 oz. or more) goes on sale for $5.99 for the shopper with the store loyalty card. That’s a savings of $5.00. Add one .50 cents-off manufacturer’s coupon. Now you just have saved 50%. (Hint: Keep an eye open for the coupon dispensers that hang off the shelves in the grocery store. If it offers a coupon for an item you use, take 3-4 of them, and save them until the product goes on sale prior to the coupon’s expiration date.) Back to the coffee example… let’s say, you have four coupons for your brand of coffee. You purchase four cans of coffee and stock up at this price… and WHAM you just SAVED $22.00 for a 50% SAVINGS….much better than the average 10% that survey suggested. Even if you go out to the store just for the coffee that’s on SALE….YOU MADE A GREAT DEAL! To keep your savings at a 50% level leads to Rule #5 - TAKE ADVANTAGE of BUY 1 GET 1 FREE OFFERS, especially on products your family uses on a regular basis. Again, buy in Bulk. Rule #6 - BE FLEXIBLE with your shopping list when you see something on SALE:an item might not be on your shopping list this week; but you see that it’s on SALE, and you buy it. Now, there won’t be a need to put it on your shopping list for the next two or three weeks, and you SAVED. Rule #7: ALWAYS ASK FOR A RAIN CHECK FOR A SALE ITEM that the store has run out of. This way you will be guaranteed not to miss out on the SALE ITEM. Rain checks can be good for one month or one year, depending on the store policy. (Hint: On the rain check ask for maximum amount of the item possible for a multiple purchase in the future.) These Shop-Smart shopping-tips will help you save-money with your everyday-shopping. Another area to look for to SAVE MONEY is with your kidswear. You can SAVE BIG when you buy Kids clothing at half-off prices whether for your infant, toddler, or teenager. You can save up to half-off on top-quality designer kidswear. Think of how many more dollars YOU CAN SAVE and add to YOUR CHILD’S college savings plan. Each year, how much do you spend on clothing for your kids? Do the math…how much is the 50% off savings worth to you and your CHILD’S FUTURE COLLEGE EDUCATION….year after year. Don’t allow your education dollars educate someone else’s child. As a loving parent your responsibility is to your child first, and foremost. These are just some of the possible ways to save half-off with your grocery shopping and your children’s clothing purchases that will begin to make college a reality for your child. Use these SHOP-SMART SHOPPING-TIPS to SAVE MONEY. Once you see how much money you save for your child’s education…set a goal….plan-save-and-pay for college with your monthly savings. The survey indicated saving 10 percent on your grocery shopping would generate savings of $678 per year. My challenge to each of you is to average SAVINGS of 40% on your purchases. If you can do that…. you will realize savings up to $2,712 a year, or $226 per month; and that’s just on your groceries alone. Saving-and-paying for College may not be as difficult as you think once you start using the SHOP-SMART SHOPPING-TIPS for all your purchases. Automatically-save money-for-college each time you FOLLOW THE RULES. They represent Free-Money-for-College you didn’t know you even had.