Archives for May 30, 2018

Groupon: Costco New Membership Deal

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Here’s a Groupon deal for a new Costco Gold Star Membership where for $60 you can get the following (Up to $144.98 value):

  • 1-year Gold Star membership ($60 normally), which includes a membership card for the primary cardholder as well as one free Household Card
  • $20 Costco Cash card
  • $64.98 value in free coupons – Free Kirkland Signature AA Batteries 72 ct ($19.99 value), Free Kirkland Signature Disinfecting Wipes Variety 4-Pack ($9.99 value), $10 off Fresh Meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish; excludes deli items), $25 off an order of $250 on Costco.com.

Valid for new members only. For this new membership offer, an existing Costco member must be expired prior to February 1, 2018 to qualify.

Save even more on your Groupon with a cashback shopping portal. Many offer new customers bonuses if you make a qualifying purchase, including eBates ($10 bonus), TopCashBack (varies), and BeFrugal ($10 bonus). I have cashed out of all of these before.

How Much Do You Need To Save For College? Vanguard 529 Calculator

Thinking about 529 plans and like playing around with interactive calculators? This Vanguard tool helps you visualize how much you’ll need to save for college and how changing up a specific factor would affect your results. It adjusts for age, contributions, investment returns, tuition inflation, and even looks up the current cost of your favorite university. A formal report is spit out with lots of charts, just like a financial advisor might create for you. Here’s a sample screenshot:

Tuition inflation is something that I think is hard to predict. However, I couldn’t think of anything better than accepting the default assumptions that investment return will only barely outpace tuition inflation.

If you’d rather have a quick, simple scenario, check out this Vanguard article on the power of automatic savings. If you put away $130 a month automatically every month for 18 years, at a 6% return you’d end up with $50,000. Putting away $50 a month reliably would get you to $20,000.

Nearly half of your final amount would be due to investment growth, which thanks to the 529 plan can be tax-free when used towards qualified educational expenses.

I’m still in the camp that retirement should be prioritized over college savings, but I definitely understand the parental instinct to provide the best educational opportunity possible. I’m still pondering the idea of targeting funding college with 1/3rd savings, 1/3rd spending from current income, and 1/3rd grants/scholarships/loans.

Finally, here is another set of handy Vanguard tools, a 529 Plan Interactive Comparison Map and Tax Deduction Calculator.

List of 529 College Savings Plan Bonuses and Promotions

5/29 is “529 College Savings Day”, and several plans are offering promotions and/or giveaways through the end of the month. Here is a NY Times article with some helpful information and here is a interactive 50 state map listing promotions. Just putting in $50 every month could add up to nearly $20,000 at the end of 18 years (6% return).

Here are some sample promotions:

  • California Scholarshare 529 – Bonus expired 6/1/18.
  • Florida Prepaid – “Open a Florida 529 Savings Plan, from now through June 30, and we’ll seed your account with $25. Set up an automatic monthly contribution of $25 or more, and we’ll add another $25.”
  • Idaho Ideal – “Open an IDeal—Idaho College Savings Program account online between May 1-29, 2018. Make an initial contribution of $25 or more and we’ll add $25 to your account. To qualify for the $25 match, the beneficiary of the account MUST BE age 5 or younger. This special offer is limited to the first 150 accounts opened during this period.”
  • Nebraska NEST 529 – “Get a head start on college savings with a $100 bonus for opening a new NEST 529 College Savings Account. Be one of the first 100 individuals to open and contribute a minimum of $100 to a new account for a child who is eight years old or younger between May 15, 2018 and May 31, 2018 with the Promo Code provided, and receive a $100 Bonus contribution into your new account.”
  • Tennessee TNStars – “In celebration of 529 Day on 5/29, any Tennessee resident who opens a new TNStars account during the month of May will get a $25 match!”
  • Virginia 529 – “To commemorate this year’s special day, we’re contributing a $50 match reward to every new qualifying Invest529 account opened from now until May 31, 2018.”

Remember, you can open a plan from any state even if you are not a resident (although promotions and state tax deductions may be restricted). Also, you can do a rollover from one state plan into another state plan once every rolling 12 months.