Just a heads up, this post is sponsored by the fine folks at Upromise. This should go without saying, but all opinions are our own and came straight from our own noggins.
On most families’ list of obligatory “financial to-dos” is saving for college. We’re part of that group, and for good reason. Actually two good reasons.
First, I got through college living on student loans and a prayer. All that cash seemed deceptively like Monopoly money until I threw my graduation cap in the air and the first student loan bill came floating back down with it. As we’ve already documented at great length, it took some hard-fought discipline and saving to kick our student loan Debt Monster to the curb. All it took was student loans for us to vow that we would do whatever it took to avoid debt again.
Our second (and technically third) reason for saving for college coincided with the births of both of our little babes. Where the idea of saving for college seemed like a “yeah, that’d be cool I guess” goal before having kids, we almost immediately reprioritized that goal near the top of our list after their births.
Having dealt with college debt firsthand, we’ve made it a point to work hard to put chunks of cash away into their college savings plans. You can read about our current thinking of how we’ll help here and here, but basically we’re planning on doing what we can (with some conditions) to help them graduate from college without student debt.
Until now, we’ve been putting larger chunks of dough into their 529 accounts, but we’re always on the lookout for ways to make college savings a priority. We’ve had readers point us to a college savings program called Upromise over the years, but we hadn’t had a chance to look into what they do until recently. We are super selective with companies that we choose to introduce folks to on our blog, but Upromise definitely fit the bill. And here’s why.
Upromise by Sallie Mae offers up to 5% cash back at popular online shops, grocery stores, and local restaurants and that money directly into your children’s college savings plans. It’s totally free to sign up, and any cash that’s earned can be invested back into an eligible 529 plan, deposited into an FDIC-insured Upromise GoalSaver account, used to help pay off an existing student loan, or request a check. So just to recap, you spend money on stuff you’d normally spend money on (because budgeting) and Upromise will give you a kickback to help cover college costs. Awesome.
Earning cash back is pretty straightforward after you sign up. If you’re shopping online (like, say, Walmart.com or Staples), just start at the Upromise website to get to your participating online retailer. If you’re shopping in the real world (do people still do that? Kidding…), just register your credit cards, debit cards, and grocery or participating store loyalty cards and Upromise immediately starts grabbing extra savings from eligible purchases. Or if credit card rewards are your thing, you can even sign up for a Upromise MasterCard to double your savings of up to 10% cash back with participating shops.
And right now, when you invite friends and family to join Upromise you can both earn $20. So if nearly automated ways to sock away a little extra every month for your college savings funds, is your jam, go sign up. Now excuse me while I go buy some TOMS… I mean put money into my Sally’s college account. 😉