Is saving for your kids’ college really a good idea?

I was interviewed by Joe Heim for his college savings piece published in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine on November 1, 2013.

My conversation with Kantrowitz and my accountant persuaded me to start saving for my kids immediately. Finally, I had clarity. Then I talked to Jeff Bogle.

Bogle worked for 10 years in the financial industry before leaving five years ago to become a stay-at-home dad in a Philadelphia suburb and start a parenting blog, OWTK, or Out With the Kids. Earlier this year he wrote a provocative against-the-grain post about how he and his wife, who also works in finance, stopped contributing to their daughters’ 529 plans. They had been putting in $1,000 for each of them every year, which, after 18 years at a 5 percent return, would leave them with about $29,500. That would be enough, they figured, to pay for a year of room and board at a public college.

They decided the return wasn’t worth it. They opted to spend the money on sharing enriching opportunities — travel, art, cooking classes, music lessons — with their children, now 9 and 6.

“The goal is for them to be cultured, to have experiences, to see the country and the world, and for us to do it all together,” Bogle says. “Life isn’t all about building up a résumé to get into college. Kids are doing volunteer work just to check a box when they don’t even feel strongly about it. And there’s an idea that’s been created out there that parents aren’t being good parents unless they’re saving everything they can to help pay for their kids’ school.”

I like this Bogle guy. He’s speaking to me. But I’m just not sure I can go all in on leaving so much to chance. Bogle is more sanguine than I am.

“I don’t know if it’s a perfect plan,” he says with a laugh. “We’ll just do it and sort of hope for the best.”

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