A few weeks ago I did a post asking "What would you buy for your baby if you had oodles of money?" By far, the most popular response was "a college fund." As someone who put herself through college and law school with student loans and part-time jobs, I, too, would love for my daughter to go to school without having to worry about money. Financial experts would, of course, say I should start saving now. But what if I don't have any extra money to put aside? Is it appropriate to ask friends and family to give my baby money instead of all those stuffed animals, clothes, and toys that she doesn't really "need"?
That's the question that was raised over at The Juggle. An expectant father eager to jump-start his baby's college investment plan (a 529 savings account) wanted to know if it was okay to ask friends and family to contribute to college-savings funds as soon as the baby was born.
Cindy Post Senning, a director of the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vermont, had this advice: It's fine to make such a request of family or friends, but don't put the request in writing on the birth announcement. That risks making the announcement seem more about money than about celebrating the event. Instead, "get the word out by word-of-mouth," having a friend or relative inform others.
To make giving cash less awkward, consider naming a family friend or attorney to receive the money, suggests Senning. This could help people on a tight budget from feeling embarrassed about giving small amounts. And don't be too disappointed if people go ahead and buy gifts anyway-many people simply enjoy doing so.
Would you ask people to consider giving you money (even just a small sum) for your baby's college fund rather than a gift? How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of such a request?
Written by Suzanne Murray for CafeMom's Baby Buzz