Introducing Our Participant of the Month, Kimberly Turner-Livsey!

Fund My Future highlights the February 2018 participant of the month, Kimberly Turner-Livsey and son Laron Livsey.

Starting the Conversation

When discussing the option of college with children the big question on every family’s mind is: how much is college going to cost?

The answer to that question varies from nothing at all, to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many factors go into determining the cost of post-secondary education. You have to consider your child’s academic performance, the area of study he or she wishes to pursue, costs of books and lab fees, and, among other things, where your child will live. Talking about family finances early on is a great way to position your child financially for college.

Kimberly Turner-Livsey is not one to procrastinate on saving for her youngest son, 10-year-old Laron, to attend college. Even though Laron is only a 4th-grade student at Manchester Academic Charter School and has some time before he attends college, Kimberly wants to start contributing toward future savings, educational planning, and postsecondary education.

Kimberly opened a savings account with Fund My Future in November 2017. She first heard of the savings program when the Fund My Future team visited her workplace – The Young Women’s Christian Association of Greater Pittsburgh (YWCA).

“Toni and another representative wanted to meet with the YWCA to talk about the ways we could help spread the word and get some of our participants involved in Fund My Future,” After hearing details about the program, Kimberly was on board—for both the YWCA and herself. “I want to make sure my youngest [child] is still able to experience college, whether he decides to stay local or if he decides to go away to school,” she added. The cost of college can include a range of items including some you might not expect.

“I was not as prepared for some of the other out-of-pocket expenses with my oldest child and I do not want to be in that position again [with my youngest child]. I want to make sure that he is able to experience college stress-free.” -Kimberly Turner-Livsey

Getting Started

Once Kimberly made the decision to start a college savings plan for her son, Laron, she decided to open with First Commonwealth Bank.

“I chose First Commonwealth because when Fund My Future visited my place of employment they were one of the first banks the organization had established a relationship with,” she said.

Convenience also played a role in the choosing of her banking institution. “I figured there’s a few locations in the Downtown area where I work, as well as one location in Robinson, PA.” When asked what obstacles stood in the way of setting up her account, Kimberly said, “The only obstacle I experienced was trying to link my bank account to the Fund My Future account.”

The help she received from Program Manager Toni Corinealdi made her feel at ease. “I left Toni a message and within two hours, I got a follow-up call. She walked me through the process and we were able to get everything situated.” Kimberly recalls how helpful the Fund My Future team has been throughout the enrollment process.

“The Fund My Future team has been very helpful and supportive in walking you through the process and making sure it’s a good experience for the families involved.”

A Desire to Save

Many participants in the Fund My Future program indicate that they want to save for their child’s future but sometimes find it impossible to save due to certain financial situations. Kimberly said there is no set dollar amount she places in her son’s account: “I think people get intimated by the amount [they think they have to save]. Realize that you can save just as much or little as you want – without any restrictions. You do not have to have a minimal balance, at least not with First Commonwealth Bank,” she says. “When people think of saving, they believe they have to save a large amount of money at one time, but really, you can take five dollars to the bank. You do not have to have $25, $50 or $100 every time you go. In fact, I opened my account in November. At that time, I had only made two deposits when we won. At that point, my son only had $20 or $25 in the account. It was not a large amount of money. I actually had less in the account at that point, than what we won.”

Strategies for Saving

Kimberly explained how adults could help children establish good saving habits at an early age: “Almost treat saving like a reward system. If a child gets money for a special occasion, help them to save some of that money…teach them that they do not have to run out and spend it all. Try to save at least half.”

Whatever the future holds, creating a savings plan will be the cornerstone of providing a solid financial foundation to help with financing education among other things.

 

Introducing our First Child Savings Participant of the Month, Thomas Casillas!

Fund My Future highlights one of the second quarter raffle winners as he shares his tips to save.

Originally from Georgia, Thomas Casillas recently moved to Pittsburgh last June. Both of his daughters, Isabelle and Aria, had Georgia 529 savings plans that he needed to transition to Pennsylvania.

A 529 plan, sometimes referred to as a Qualified Tuition plan, is a savings account operated by a state or state agency and is designed to be used for a child’s educational expenses. Savings can be used for tuition, books, and other education related expenses at an accredited two or four year college or university, in addition to use for private or religious primary and secondary schooling for children before college.

Getting a Jump Start on Savings with Fund My Future

Through his research Mr. Casillas stumbled upon the Fund My Future website and knew it would be a great addition to his current savings plan.

“Saving to me has never been something I did, my wife was the saver, but she taught me. Prior to her, I was bad in debt and saving was a fantasy.” – Mr. Casillas 

Through these savings accounts, he and his wife are teaching their two daughters to value savings so that they never have to live paycheck to paycheck.

Turning Spare Change into College Savings

Finding a good way to save can be tough, but Mr. Casillas and his family have crafted a ritual, as he calls it, over the years to save. In his home they have a separate piggy bank that they fill with loose coins throughout the year. At the end of the year, they go to the bank and have the girls drop the coins into a coin counter. Once the total is determined, he splits it equally and deposits it directly into their 529 plans. A few loose coins a day doesn’t seem like much at the time, but as his girls are able to see, can quickly add up to a significant amount of money! Isabelle and Aria look at their account balances monthly to learn about how interest builds up over time, and to remind them that their future is already being supported.

When asked what his children would like to be when they grow up, Mr. Casillas responded, “Good question!” Isabelle, a student at Quaker Valley Middle School, is musically inclined. She loves to play the piano and cello, so she hopes to pursue something in the arts field. Her younger sister Aria, a student at Osborne Elementary School, loves animals- especially dolphins. “At the moment,” her father says, “she wants to be an ‘animal doctor’.”

With such supportive parents and a jumpstart on savings, we are certain Isabelle and Aria have a bright future ahead of them.