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4 Things I'd Rather Spend Money on Than My Kids' College Education

Posted by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM
  • 11 Replies

4 Things I'd Rather Spend Money on Than My Kids' College Education

by Julie Ryan Evans 

piggy bankEvery month, I cringe a bit when I see the funds coming out of our account that automatically go into our children's college savings funds. It's not much when you look at the soaring price of higher education, but it feels like a lot when there are so many other things to pay for in our daily lives, and things I would much rather spend money on than their college education.

It's not that I don't value education; in fact, there are few things I value more. However, I also loathe the attitude that college is just an expected for kids, and that their parents will pay for it. Then we see the droves who have no appreciation for the experience, who party all night, and see classes an optional activity. Most may successfully plod their way through, but I question how many truly appreciate it and embrace all the opportunities a college educations presents, especially when they don't work for it.

While I'm hopefully raising them to value education too, I know all too well how easy it is to throw that out the window at the first frat house for a beer bong. Maybe because I did just that. I wouldn't say I wasted my college education, but to say I fully applied myself would be a big stretch ... and I even paid for part of my own education. So to have it just handed to you on a silver platter ... I'm not convinced that it's going to be the best thing I can provide for my kids.

Then there are studies that say college isn't even worth the price. So I question why then am I scrimping to pay for something that may or may not pay off so well when there are other, very valuable things I could be doing for my children with that money, such as:

Sleep Away Camp

Studies have shown the lifelong benefits of sleep away camps. They offer independence, adventure, and opportunities for kids to learn to do for themselves in a safe environment. Of course, all that doesn't come without a price.


There's no better way to learn about the world than to travel and see it firsthand. When I imagine the trips we could take with the money we save for college, I have a hard time not cashing it in and booking plane tickets.

Enrichment Activities

From sports to art and music lessons to tutors and perhaps even private schools, instilling that passion for learning and the arts early is so important, but often we have to skip or eliminate opportunities because they're expensive. Do we forgo early opportunities that could be valuable because we're so focused on saving for the future?

An Advanced Degree

If they prove themselves in college, I'd much rather help them pay for an advanced degree to help keep debt down. At that point I'd be more confident they would appreciate and embrace it.

Of course, in an ideal, cash-flowing world, we'd all be able to provide all of these things for our children. For most of us, however, that's not our reality, so we have to pick and choose. Most of us choose college when it comes down to it because that's what it feels like we need to do, and we don't want our children to forego higher education because they can't pay for it.  So yes, my husband and I will keep saving for it when we can, but it won't be without reservation.

Do you save for your children's college education?

What things are most important for you to provide for your children?

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM
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by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

I don't have a set fund for his college, he's got a trust that he'll get at 25.  I agree with this article, that there are so much more valuble things to learn and do before college, so, yah I don't really plan to do much,

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:35 PM


by Group Admin on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:37 PM

 My parents did not pay for my college.  I stayed in their home, so they paid room and board.  I got loans and worked (in the summer) to pay for my college.  I appreciated it a whole lot more than many of my friends whose parents paid the whole deal.  So IMO it's more important for me to instill a love of learning in them and do the things now that will help them succeed in college than to pay for it.

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 12:43 PM

We saved up some for college but not nearly enough. Both of my kids got good scholarships.

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

I'm saving, but my kids are still a ways out from that.  I don't do tons of enrichment activities, because I have 5 kids, and that $35 swim lesson turns into $175.  So we pick and choose, because I also think that getting to do all the activities they want to do when they want to do them doesn't allow them to value that, and I want them to come away from college debt free.  It's a gift I treasure from my parents and grandparents and work hard to provide my children as well.  2 months after I bought my first house by myself, I totalled my car (which I had just paid off 3 months prior).  I would have been done in right there if I also had college debt.

All in all, though, I think these types of articles serve only to build ourselves up if we agree with the author and open us up for derision if we don't.

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

I coupon.  I put all the money saved from couponing into their college funds. I plan to pay for college with coupons!!

Exposure to many things is what is most important for me to provide for my kids.  I think we do a pretty good job. DH only speaks French to them, one set of Grandparents lives in another State while the other set lives in South America.  We travel, expose them to music and art as well as lots of math and reading just for fun.

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 3:00 PM

 We do not save for collage for our children. We are teaching our children that if they want to go to collage that working & saving money & paying their own way will serve them better then if we payed for it or if they went in to debt for it. We are making sure our children know how to learn so that no matter what it is they want to do with their lives they will have the tools to master it.

by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 3:09 PM
I am only paying for their last year of college. My friends mom did that and I thought it was a great idea.
I will pay for some if they are under 18 and doing a dual enrollment type thing. (which I'm really pushing for, having a chuck of your college education done before your even an adult, I feel will open a lot of doors)

I saw too many of my friends fail, drop out or take 6+ years to get like a 2-4 year degree because it was on their parents dime, especially if the parents were paying for their room and board away from home.
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by on Sep. 11, 2013 at 3:28 PM

It is a collaborate effort. DD worked and got a small scholarship. Graduated in 4 yrs.

DS is in his 1st semester. He is working and taking 13 credits at a community college. After 2 years he can transfer to a State college. He only gets 4 years-after that he is out of my checkbook! lol

I can't see paying for my kids to travel, and then what? Sleep on my sofa for the next 20 years? No- they can get their education and a job, and if they want to treat themselves with a big travel budget, that is on them.

by Silver Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 4:26 PM

My oldest is paying for his own education, so he works full time and goes to class around that schedule. I paid for his first couple of classes when he first graduated high school. Huge mistake. He dropped all his classes before the semester was even over, because it was "too hard". So I said he was on his own after that. I guess I'm just weird like that, because I don't feel like its my job to pay for another adult's education. I was raised to believe that once you're 18, parents are no longer financially responsible for you. So I don't have any kind of plan to save for my other kids' college. I'm not even convinced college is even all that necessary. Neither DH or I have college educations. Most people in my family that have degrees got them in their 30s or 40s after the kids were raised. So I'm not all that worried about saving for college.

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