Not one, not two, but three! That’s how many savings accounts Marissa Ennis has—in addition to her three piggy banks. And she’s only five years old.
Like all Rappahannock public school kindergartners, Marissa has a MyFuture savings account opened for her by FamilyFutures. Her parents, Shannon and Robert Ennis had also set up an account her.
Marissa got her third account when her mother won a drawing for a deposit to a new Virginia 529 College Savings plan. FamilyFutures made the deposit when Shannon and Robert completed the process of setting up the account on the plan website.
Families who attended an informational session about this easy way to save for education entered a drawing for the deposit. The event was part of Rappahannock schools’ MyFuture programming. FamilyFutures offered the chance to win an opening deposit to encourage parents to learn about about the advantages of starting early with small savings for their children’s postsecondary plans. An opening deposit is $25, and additional deposits can be any amount.
Shannon attended the session, open to all county parents, to learn more. “I had a lot of misperceptions about the program. I thought it was only for college,“ she said. “I had not realized how flexible the 529 accounts are. They can be used for vocational training and even for my own education, if needed.”
She also learned about the tax benefits when the funds spent for education and training. Accounts may grow tax-deferred and are free of federal and Virginia taxes when expended for qualified educational expenses. Virginia taxpayers who own Virginia529 accounts can deduct their contributions up to $4,000 per account, per year, with unlimited carry forward to future tax years. Eligible costs have been expanded in recent legislation to include computers and other educational expenses in addition to tuition and fees, as well as K-12 tuition.
Shannon encourages other parents to look into setting up 529 savings, which are investment accounts. “You should take advantage of it, she says.”
The Virginia plan has a strong track record of earnings and has consistently been rated one of the top plans in the country.
Shannon notes how easy it can be to deposit even small amounts. She works for Fauquier County, assigning addresses and keeping the 911 system up to date. Her job lets her use direct deposit to put a portion of every paycheck into Marissa’s account. As she says, “If you don’t see it, you don’t miss it.”
Shannon and Robert will encourage friends and family members to contribute to the account for birthday and holiday gifts. Gifting easy for anyone to do online, with a gift card, or by mail. With many small deposits, Marissa’s 529 will grow quickly, so that when she graduates from high school, she’ll have a big nest egg for education.
Marissa has also already earned more deposits in her MyFuture account by going to the bank and reading stories about money with Shannon. These activities are among several ways kindergartners can qualify for additional deposits to MyFuture accounts. Her parents also play money games at home with her and talk about money and how it relates to work.
Shannon, who trains foster parents, says that other families they know, through Girl Scouts and elsewhere, also talk about saving money.
She says, “Start saving, even if you aren’t sure what your child will want to do.”
Asked how she might use all that money later, Marissa is not sure, but maybe she’ll “be a baby doctor.”
Robert and Shannon also plan to open a 529 account for Marissa’s brother, 4-year-old Justin. Following in his sister’s footsteps, Justin will have a MyFuture account when he enters kindergarten.
Mail checks to: Family Futures, Box 570, Sperryville, VA 22740
FamilyFutures is a tax exempt charity under Section 501(c)3.
Gifts are fully deductible as allowed by law. Please consult your tax adviser.
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