Our 529 College Savings Plan – Where are we so far

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As of 3 days ago, Stella is now a five month old.  Bring on the teething!  It’s also a good time to check-in on the ole 529.  That is what got us started here afterall.

Today her 529 account closed at $1,904.49.  As it’s only been open 4 months, to keep things simple we’ll call that an average of $476/mo we’ve been able to put into the account.  As that is quite a bit more than my car payment it feels rather considerable, but in the grand scheme of planning for college, not so much.

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Based on our current savings plan we’re on track to be $107,000 short of paying for in-state tuition.  Worse yet, the average monthly is skewed a bit as we had some gifts from family that are included in that total.  At our current rate of $300/mo we’re investing into the account it will actually be closer to a $140k shortfall – Time to hit up the grandparents.

What’s the plan?  I pitched the idea of buying a classic Porsche that would appreciate in value and easily pay for college in 18 years, but that plan was rejected fairly quickly (although it’s not all that crazy).  For us it includes finding some additional sources of income to supplement our savings.  Rachel now spends an hour or two a day researching vendors and wholesale pricing as we’re in the process of starting a small online store.  Our goal is to create a very modest $250-500/mo that we can put towards college.  While we’d love to shoot for the stars, this has to be a business that is manageable by a busy full-time mom and a dad who works a good bit more than full-time.

While our plans may not work for everyone, I do recommend getting a good handle on expenses.  We are fairly religious users of Mint.com to track our finances and investments.  This is a great way to aggregate all accounts into a single system that lets you create goals for college, paying down debts, saving, and investing.  Before we started using it we mainly flew by the seat of our pants with our finances.  Having our financial status in our face (we do try to go at least once a week) has been a great way to keep our spending in check and our savings on target.

Note – That’s not an advertisement.  I just find it to be a really great product… which also happens to be free. 



Paying for Medical School with a 529

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Paging Dr Baby

Paging Dr Baby


At my office I frequently equate the cost of  services provided to that of physical goods – “That consultant costs about a 3-series a month.”

My favorite comparison being that of a 3-series BMW as it’s easily digestible even to a mixed audience.

Want to pay for your kid to go to medical school?  That’s somewhere between a 3 and 5 series a year.

According to a survey of student tuition and fees by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median cost in 2012-2013 for first year students at public medical schools is $54,625 per year for out-of-state students and $32,197 for in-state students, which includes tuition, fees and health insurance. First year students at private schools had median tuition, fees and health insurance costs of $50,078 for resident and $50,768 for nonresident students the same year.

When we started this blog our goal was to create a resource for others seeking information on college savings.  This is one of our primary goals for our child, and something we started almost immediately…. we did have to wait for a SSN which delayed us a few weeks.  While our coverage has expanded considerably, this is still a primary goal.

For our daughter, the focus isn’t on attending an Ivy League school, but ensuring she has the opportunity to follow her passion.  Is her dream to become a hair stylist?  While her 529 will be vastly overfunded for this career, she’s covered.  As the idealist, I have ensured Rachel our daughter will be an artsy engineer.  Not a requirement, but that’s my dream.  I hope she’s able to follow her passion while still being able to pay her mortgage.

The 529 calculators I’ve tried indicate we’ll be well over $100k short of paying for our daughters instate tuition…   Not exactly what I like to see every time we login to our bank account.  Four months in we’re at ~$2000 and our returns have been quite favorable.  Will we have the $300k estimated to cover the costs of her tuition   Not by a long shot, but we are on track to have all of the basics fully funded.

The Georgetown University School of Medicine, for example, lists costs of nearly $3,000 for books, supplies, equipment and boards for first year medical students.

$3000 for books?  Well shucks, I guess Rachel an I will have to sell some Plasma.


Source US News

Saving For College by Ditching the Disposables?!

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While there is a lot of internet hype about how cloth diapers will save you thousands there is actually some truth there!

First let’s get into some of the background…

What are cloth diapers?

To be blunt… cloth that your baby poops and pees on! All joking aside there are many different types of cloth diapers. I will briefly describe the ones that I have used and their average cost.

Pocket Diaper

Pocket Diaper

Pocket Diapers – range from 10-30$ each + inserts which range from 1-8$ each. These are great for daycares, husbands, babysitters and anyone else who needs super simple to use diapers. I personally highly recommend velcro diapers for these people. Velcro has two names in the cloth diaper world, aplix or hook and loop. Snap diapers have a lot of different snap settings and hip snaps. Matt never remembers to do the hip snaps and it sometimes causes leaks!




All in Ones or All in Twos (AIOs or AI2s) – range 20+$ each. These are pocket diapers with a built in insert. The bonus of AIOs or AI2s is they are slimmer fitting and less bulky looking on baby. Many moms swear by these, but they did not work for our family. Our darling daughter urinates more than one would think is humanly possible. She will wet through an AIO in under an hour, and I don’t believe in spending that kind of money to have to add more inserts.



Prefold Diapers

Prefold Diapers

Prefolds & Covers – average 1-4$/prefold and 5-15$/cover. These make up the majority of my stash of cloth diapers. These are workhorses of the cloth diapering world and they are the most cost effective in my book. A cover is literally a plastic cover that goes over the pre-fold. A prefold is a flat that has been tri folded. There is some origami baby folding involved here, which makes these diapers less appealing for those, like my wonderful darling love-of-my-life husband, who aren’t totally on board with cloth diapering





Fitteds – 25-50$ each. These are super slim, super absorbent diapers that still require a cover over top of them. Again I don’t seem the point of paying an arm and a leg for something that I still have to purchase plastic pants to put over top.



Flats – Your cheapest option. you can turn an old 100% cotton tee-shirt into a flat. It is just a flat piece of fabric that you origami fold around baby and then throw some plastic covers over top! I have not yet tried flats, but have just put in a co-op order for some hemp and bamboo flats to try!

Cost of Disposable Diapers or Sposies

I am basing the costs off of my baby’s experience with disposables.  Your mileage may vary somewhat.

  • We had roughly 16 diaper changes a day for the first 3 weeks of her life and then it went down to 12-14 diaper changes for the following three weeks of her life. 
  • Note this does not include the numerous diapers that we would lay her on and then she would pee on them and have to be changed again.
  • Butt Cream – from the time we left the hospital until the time we switched to cloth diapers we were going through jars of aquaphor, hydrocortisone, bactrim, A&D ointment, Calmoseptine, and other various butt creams at an alarming rate

Pampers are currently on Amazon.com for .27/each. 16x21x.27 = $90.72 for the first three weeks of her life 13x21x.17 (she was in size 1 dipes by then and Amazon.com has them for .17/diaper) = $46.41

During the first 6 weeks of her life we went through 3 tubes of A&D cream, 3 tubes of Calmoseptine, 2 tubes of hydrocortisone, 2 jars of aquaphor, 2 tubes of destin and 1 tube of bacitracin. All of these prices are coming from Amazon.com. Cream Price = $88.86

I almost forgot about wipes! We were using Pampers sensitive wipes and we went through 2 of the giant boxes of wipes during the time we were using disposables. For a grand total Amazon.com cost of $34.38

For the first 6 weeks of the baby’s life we spent a grand total of $260.37 + tax 🙂

Cost of Our Cloth Diaper Stash

* Please note all of these prices are for brand new diapers and I bought all of ours second hand, seconds or irregular sales, or from a co-op

  • 24 GMD Pre-folds $36/dozen and we have 2 dozen = $72
  • 1 Bummis size medium, 1 best bottoms, 3 happy heiny covers, 1 thirsties = $79.14
  • 12 pockets (I have about one of each brand I swear so to make life simple I will go with what my favorite diapers Rumparooz cost which are currently on sale on Kangacare for $17.95 each) = $215.40
  • 12 hemp inserts ($3 each) = $36
  • 12 Charcoal bamboo inserts ($2 each) = $24
  • pack of 3 snappis = $9.95
  • 2 pail liners (also on sale at Kangacare for 5$ each) = $10

Grand total of: $446.49


  • We could have stopped buying at the pre-folds and covers, but I got pockets for Matt and the ease of going out places
  • In real life we actually spent a lot less than that because everything we bought came from a co-op or mother’s group
  • We never have to purchase another diaper as long as Stella is in diapers. It is the beauty of one-size diapers!
  • Well cared for, these will last through the second child.  There is where cloth diapers really out shine disposables. I never have to buy another diaper for as long as even my future children are in diapers!
  • There is really no way anyone is escaping paying at least a thousand dollars in the the 2+ years their kids are in disposables. While even with utilities I am not going to get close to that number. 
  • The money we are saving by using cloth diapers will be going towards her 529 fund!

Full Disclosure:

Cloth diapering would super suck if you do not have a washer and dryer in your house. Coin operated laundry facilites in California are really expensive, and having do wash diapers every other day would definitely add up. Handwashing is an option, but as far as I am concerned I have no time for hand-washing and drying diapers every other day. We have not noticed a significant increase in the amount of electricity we use, and our HOA pays for our water usage.


Cutting Back on TV Time in Order to Save For College?!

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77999_10151349095910886_2028961470_oI “liked” the Dave Ramsey facebook page a while back and this graphic came across my feed an idea popped into my head. What if everyone sold their television and put the money towards their children’s college savings plan? There would be more family time. There would be more children going to college. Violence in world would end as we know it? That may be a leap of the imagination, but on a serious note Maggie Ellis from SavingAdvice.com crunched the numbers and you could save almost $10k a year by not going over the national normal 4 hours of television a night.

If the average is four hours a night and you are watching five, it’s not the four hours that costs you $200, it’s that extra one. So an extra seven hours of TV for one week (or a total of five hours per night) costs you $1,400 per year. If you only watch an extra hour once per week for the fifty-two weeks in a year, you would tack on $10,400 to your spending over the year.

This may sounds completely ludacris, but Ellis goes on to explain how easy it is to get to that $10,000 + extra spending a year.

If you watch HGTV and decide to make over your kitchen, that $10,000 is gone in a heartbeat. If you watch the Travel Channel and head to Greece, you can probably kiss $5,000 goodbye. If you watch a lot of celebrity shows or shows set in expensive locales with expensive wardrobes, you may try to keep up.

– Maggie Ellis

Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore now does it? Will you think twice now before turning on that bad reality TV show?