When we think about saving for our kid's college education, accounts like 529 plans usually spring to mind. These accounts should certainly be our first line of defense in saving for our kid's education. But there are lesser-known ways to rack up free money for your child's future.
Inventive ways to save
First, use your credit card's cash back rewards features. Then, discipline yourself to funnel your rewards into your child's college savings account. That way, more money is saved for your kid's education without it costing you an extra dime. For instance, assuming you charge $2,500 per month on your card, a modest 1% everyday cash back rewards feature can add up to $300 annually. If you did this over 18 years (the time your newborn grows to a college dorm dweller), it would total more than $5,400 in free money. Of course, be sure to fully pay off your (preferably no annual fee) card on time every month.
Second, check out Upromise, a college savings service that can furnish you with a linked credit card. Earn cash back when you use the card for purchases from participating merchants. You can invest your Upromise earnings into a 529 plan, deposit them into a savings account, or request a check. Better yet, it's free, and you can invite family and friends to join, too.
Third, consider the Monetta Young Investor Fund -- a no-load, low-cost mutual fund that has vastly outperformed the overall stock market -- for your child's college savings. Even better, as a fund shareholder, your child is entitled to college tuition rewards totaling more than $11,000 worth of tuition credits over 18 years. The rewards help reduce tuition costs at hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide and are non-taxable and do not affect financial aid. As an added bonus, shareholders receive age-based games and contests designed to teach your child about money.
Foolish final thoughts
Definitely take advantage of traditional college savings accounts, like 529 plans. But don't forget to implement creative solutions, too. By doing so, you'll rack up free cash for your kid's college education.