Instant College Fund, Just Add Rebates

For the first 7 years of my sons life the plan was always to start a college fund, ummm, next year… It just never seemed like a pressing issue when he was young. Each year that passed moved us closer to that massive financial cliff, college tuition… Paying for my sons college is a BIG goal for me. I had to work full time while putting myself through college, and although I learned a lot of valuable lessons about hard work and struggle during that time, I would like my son to enjoy the college experience.

A little over a year ago when I opened my Acorns account I didn’t intend for it to turn into much, I stubbled upon their website and thought – cool. I opened an account envisioning a mad money fund, maybe save enough for a weekend trip up to the mountains… For months I essentially forgot about it, only reminded when I saw the occasional round-up withdrawals from my checking account. Around the same time I was also experimenting with ibotta, and a few other rebate apps. Again, nothing major, I tend to get back $30-$40 a month from ibotta, enough for a dinner with the family. I also use my Amazon.com rewards card for all of my purchases, and ALWAYS pay the balance in full at the end of my billing cycle. I tend to bank about $25 a month in Amazon rewards, and promptly waste them on junk.

One day, it occurred to me like being struck by lightning. I should stop wasting my rebates, add them to Acorns to start a college fund!!! Over the past year, in addition to Acorns round-ups, I’ve been putting all of the ibotta rebates into Acorns. I’ve also been using my Amazon.com rewards to purchase Prime Pantry items and depositing those savings into Acorns. To supplement this I did my own round-up at year end. I decided to round my total annual Acorns contribution up to the next $1K. Over a 1 year period I ended up with $2K in my Acorns account and barely even noticed. Actually, it’s become an obsession (a good one I think) to find new rebates that I can add to my account to increase my “free” savings – Here’s how the numbers work (I hope):

         Monthly        Annual   After 10 years 7% annual
Acorns round-ups
              50            600  
Amazon rewards               25            300  
ibotta               32            384  
Annual account round-up
               716  
total             107         2,000                  27,632.90

So, if I keep it up, when he goes off to college in 9 more years, based on a 7% annual rate of return. I should have in the ballpark of $27K. No, it’s not enough to pay for 4 years of tuition. But, it’s a good start, and the earlier you start the better. So, it you start a few years earlier than me, your savings could be MUCH bigger.

This is a truly painless way (and sort of fun – finding rebates has become a weird game to me), to put a little extra away for college. Or, if the kid doesn’t end up going to college, it’s the BOAT fund!! I’m open to suggestions on good rebate apps or offers, I rave about ibotta constantly, if you use something that saves you big money PLEASE let me know in the comments section.

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