Planning for Your Children's Future: Beyond College and Exploring Account Options

Jordan Haddox |

Diverse Possible Savings Goals for Your Children’s Future

When it comes to planning for your children’s future, people almost always assume that you are talking about saving money for college. That is not the case. It is crucial to remember that there are multiple financial goals that you can save towards for your children. While higher education is undoubtedly one of the top savings goals for children, exploring alternative objectives can provide them with a more comprehensive foundation for their future. Since the value of higher education is starting to come into question by many, let’s dive into the possibilities beyond college.

Educational Pursuit: While college remains a common goal, there are other educational opportunities that your child can take. Consider saving for vocational training, apprenticeships, or specialized courses that align with their interests and talents. This allows you to invest in their ongoing education, which allows them to be empowered to pursue diverse career options, without restricting them to traditional higher education.

Entrepreneurial Ventures: Encouraging entrepreneurial skills from an early age is a wonderful way to instill a sense of independence and financial wisdom in your children. Saving towards, or helping them save towards, their business ideas or creating a startup fund for them to explore entrepreneurial ventures can be an exceptional long-term investment for them. Saving for this should be balanced with making your children take on a level of independence to make this option happen with as little support from you as possible. This will cause them to get creative and add an extra level of connection to any business they create.

Homeownership: Saving for a down payment on a home is an ambitious goal that can provide significant stability for your children in the future. Owning a property can build equity, enhance financial security, and offer them a sense of permanence and belonging. By helping them buy a home, you are also allowing them to have an asset that will go up in value the longer they own it. One thing to consider with this option is that, unless you purchase the house outright, someone will be responsible for the monthly payment of the house until it is completely paid off.

Travel and Experience: Exposing your children to diverse cultures and experiences can broaden their horizons and views of how the world operates outside of their city, state, or country. Saving for travel opportunities allows them to explore the world, gain cultural awareness, and develop a global perspective that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Emergency Fund: Establishing an emergency fund specifically for your children ensures that unexpected expenses can be managed without derailing their progress. Doing this can help cover unforeseen medical bills, car repairs, or other emergencies, granting them peace of mind and financial stability. By saving an emergency fund for your child, you can also be opening the door for them to pursue the other four things listed here on their own since you have given them the groundwork of financial stability.

Exploring Account Types for Children's Future Savings

Once you have determined the goal that you would like to save for regarding your children’s future, your next step is to choose the right account. Of the multiple account options, each one has its advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered. Here are the possible accounts you can consider.

529 College Savings Plan: 529 plans are designed explicitly for educational expenses and provide tax advantages for college savings. Contributions into a 529 account grow tax-free and withdrawals used for qualified education expenses are exempt from federal taxes. However, if the funds are used for non-educational purposes, there may be penalties and taxes that apply when taking a distribution.

Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA): UTMA accounts allow you to transfer assets to a minor that allows them to gain access upon reaching adulthood. UTMA accounts allow for some additional flexibility since there are no limitations on what they can be used for. However, the main consideration of this account is that, once the child reaches a certain age, they gain full access to the funds and can use the money for anything, even if it does not align with the goal you had in mind for the funds.

Roth IRA for Education: Roth IRAs are typically used for retirement savings, but they can also serve as a place to save for educational expenses. Contributions made into the account are after-tax, meaning withdrawals for qualified education expenses can be tax-free. Additionally, funds that are not used for education can be used in the future for retirement, which makes it a versatile savings option.

Custodial Savings Account: Similar to UTMA accounts, custodial savings accounts allow you to save for your child’s future. These accounts are managed by an adult custodian until the child reaches adulthood. Just as with the UTMA account, the funds can be used for any reason, and, also like a UTMA account, once the child reaches a certain age, they gain full access to the funds and can use the money for anything.

Education Savings Account (ESA): ESA accounts offer tax advantages similar to those of 529 plans. Your contributions will grow tax-free and withdrawals for qualified educational expenses are tax-free as well. However, Educational Savings Accounts have contribution limits, and, unlike 529 plans, unused funds cannot be carried forward.

Individual Account in Your Name: The last option is the one that gives you the most control over the funds that you save, but that comes at the expense of tax benefits lost. Using an individual account in your name to save for your children’s future means that the funds are yours until you decide to gift them to your children. Because of this, some tax consequences may come into play when gifting the funds to your children. Typically, an individual account in your name might be used if the pros of having control of the assets outweigh the cons of putting the funds in an account with specific requirements for the account.


Saving for your children’s future extends beyond college expenses. By broadening your horizons to all possibilities your children may have in the future, you can save towards those goals and help empower your children with options that best suit their ambitions. This will also allow you to better choose the right account type for your specific goal. All options come with their advantages and disadvantages, so understanding their pros and cons is essential to make an informed decision. Ultimately, a thought-out savings plan can provide your children with a solid foundation as they embark on their journey toward a successful and fulfilling future.