I am pretty minimalistic when it comes to kids toys, though my husband might think differently. We have some blocks, trains, dress-ups, craft supplies, and some imaginative play things. My kids prefer creating things (you know, out of toilet paper tubes and duct tape) and playing outside (riding bikes, climbing trees, building forts). The toys mostly get used when friends or cousins come to play.
While it’s exciting at first to be inundated with new toys and gadgets at birthdays and holidays, they easily fall by the wayside and end up creating kid clutter. In fact, for our kids’ birthday parties we often ask their friends to bring canned food to donate to the food bank instead of a gift. Our kids like to be a part of giving to a good cause.
Still, grandparents and close family and friends want to give the child something special.
The Gift of Education
College is becoming more and more expensive. Today’s youth will need more than one source to fund their education. Even with scholarships, working part-time, and college savings, many students still end up taking out loans to cover their education. Making contributions throughout childhood gives the child a significant financial head-start on their post-secondary education.
Kids probably won’t remember the specific toy you got them, but when their future lies before them and their pockets are empty, they will remember those who lovingly contributed to make their college dream a reality.
Giving with a ScholarShare Account
ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan, makes giving easy. You don’t even have to leave home. In fact there are several options of ways that you can contribute. With all gift-giving options, the minimum contribution is $25.
- Open a ScholarShare account for the special child in your life
You can enroll and submit your initial contribution online or print the enrollment materials or have the enrollment kit mailed to you. ScholarShare provides printable certificates that you can present to the child (or parents) when the you open the account and make a contribution. If you go the route of opening a new account, you will need to know the social security number of the child beneficiary.
- Contribute to an existing ScholarShare account
If the child already has a 529 college savings account started, you can make a deposit into that account. Download a gift deposit form from the ScholarShare website. You can mail it in along with your check or you can give it directly to the account owner to deposit in their account. You can also print a certificate to give to the child to let her know that you are investing in her future.
- Respond to the invitation to contribute
As the owner of the 529 plan account, the parent (or grandparent) can invite others to contribute to the account by sending out an email (or letter). When logged into ScholarShare’s website, account owners can click on “eGift” to create an invitation for friends and relatives to make a 529 contribution for any occasion, whether it’s a birthday, holiday, bar mitzvah, or just because. This makes it easy for others to contribute. Gift-givers can either click through and make a contribution electronically or they can mail in a check.
They’ll Thank You Later
The kids won’t realize the impact of your gift immediately, but they will soon enough. The parents will be grateful that they won’t be cleaning up, tripping over, replacing batteries in, or breaking up a fight over your gift. Plus, they know that a financial gift to contribute to their child’s education is worth a lot more than a new toy or another shirt.
How About You?
- Is anyone else a toy minimalist? How do you handle the influx of gifted toys?
- Has anyone asked friends or family to contribute to college funds instead of giving a traditional gift?
I have teamed up with ScholarShare to spread the word about the 529 college savings plan. I will be compensated for my efforts. As usual, the words and opinions here are all my own.