As your kids get older, you may be wondering what you should invest your savings for their college education in -- stocks, for example, or bonds?

The longer the time period until you'll need the money, the more risk you can take. Here's a typical set of guidelines that some financial planners might offer you (though remember that everyone's situation is different):

  • Birth to School Age: 100% growth stocks. You have more time, you can take more risk.
  • Age 6 to 13: You might want to think about making a few more "prudent" selections. 70% stocks, 30% bonds.
  • Age 14-18: You want things to continue to grow, but you also want to protect yourself from market volatility. Consider 30% bonds, 20% stocks, and 50% money market funds.
  • College Age: You want to be able to access the money easily and not have it drop in value. Consider putting the vast majority of it into a safe, interest-bearing account like a money market fund. For funds earmarked to be spent a year or two down the road, certificates of deposit are a good idea.

There's a lot to know about how to save for and pay for college. For more info on saving for college, drop by the Fool's College Savings Center. Also check out our previous pieces on investing for college, planning for college, and selling college to your kids.

And by the way, if thinking about investing makes your head hurt and you'd like an actual person (a financial pro, no less) to talk to about your financial situation, look into our TMF Money Advisor. It's a valuable service we're offering, featuring customized independent advice from a variety of objective financial experts. You need to make sure you're saving enough and well enough to meet all your needs -- if you need some help doing that, look into this offering.