Opening a 529 Plan: Should You Do It?

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As we're all painfully aware of, college is EXPENSIVE. When it comes to saving for your kid's future education, you shouldn't feel guilty if you can't contribute money to a college fund just yet.

You should really only be contributing if your own financial responsibilities have been met, meaning you're out of debt and have savings for your retirement, says financial expert and author of the new book Debt Free DegreeAnthony ONeal.

Once you are financially stable and ready to start a college fund for your kids, he suggests looking into a 529 plan.

RELATED: This Man, Who Was Broke, Kicked Out of College and $25,000 in Debt, Is Now… A Financial Guru?!

With a 529 College Savings Plan, you can contribute money into an account and it will grow, tax-free, to aid in your child's education in the future.

You can add anywhere from $100 to $500 a month, the expert says. Even if you stick to the low end of the scale and put in $100 each month, you'll have saved about $41,000 over 18 years. And if you contribute on the higher end ($500 per month), that number jumps to over $180,000.

Anthony shares a helpful chart that shows how a 529 plan can work over time:

529 Plan Graphic
Rachael Ray Show

So, a 529 plan can help your child avoid future student loan debt, but you want to make sure your own retirement is taken care of first. 

"It's sort of like being on an airplane when they tell you about the oxygen masks," Rach adds.

Make sure you are (financially) safe and secure, then help your kids!

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