Live chat

Alexa von Tobel: How new parents should save for college tuition

March 30, 2011 at 4:16 PM ET

TODAY Money expert Alexa von Tobel, the founder and CEO of LearnVest.com, joined TODAY.com for a live Web chat this morning.

Here are two of her answers to questions from the live chat. See below for the full Q&A and video of the Money 911 segment

Question from Amanda:

We have a great start on my son's savings account. He is 2 years old and we have about $6,000 in his account. Our intention is to keep growing this to use for his college education. Are there any good savings accounts, CDs, etc. that yield more than the traditional .25 percent from the bank?

Alexa von Tobel:

Hey Amanda! You're off to a great start!

First, I want you to create a 529 Saving Plan- which is an education plan and an easy way that you can save to pay for your son's education. Think of this as a type of savings account where you get special tax benefits for putting away money that is later used towards education. If you set up a 529 you can use it in several ways, including a savings plan that works similar to an IRA contribution or a prepaid plan where you can pay costs ahead of time.

Next, After opening the account, it will function like an investment account without too many complicated details or hidden fees. And, since taxes can take away a substantial part of income, using a 529 plan to save for college is always a good deal. However, if you choose to withdraw money without using it for education, your savings will then be taxed as income.

Lastly, Amanda, check out this section on LearnVest.com.

It will help you figure out your investing timeline. Since your son won't be going to college for around 16 more years, that money should be invested in something that has higher returns than a simple savings account!

Nini's question:

Can you give me some tips related to tax season? I haven't gotten started yet and I only have a couple weeks to spare. And I am SO busy! 

Alexa von Tobel's answer: 

Hey Nini! I dread tax season too. But, we're all in this boat together! The first step is to get organized with all of your documents! This doesn't have to be painful. 

Next, after you organized your documents - decide if you want to use a program like Turbo Tax or H&R Block OR find an accountant - this piece on LearnVest spells it out for you exactly!  

And here are 5 really cool phone apps to make your life easier during tax season!

Complete archive:

If you have a question for our TODAY Money experts, submit it here.

To sign up for an e-mail reminder for our next chat, click here.

Watch this week's Money 911 segment:

TOP