Don’t get me wrong, there are household names that didn’t graduate from college. Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and Halle Berry to name a few. But, for the statistical majority, college is the gateway to fame and fortune. According to one report, when you look at a lifetime of earnings, the difference between a diploma holder and a graduate is more than $1,000,000. But how do we prepare for our Cherub’s entrance into the League of Ivy? Particularly when facing the already dizzying financial hurdles of their infantdom, often while still strapped with our own lingering college debt? The following are five out of the box actions you can take starting today.
1) Buy Some Art: Even Leo DiCaprio loves to collect art and he certainly knows how to jazz up an art auction. Fortunately for us, when investing in art, it doesn’t take a titanic (man curtsy) bank account to help enhance our children’s education coffers. What makes collecting so wonderful is it’s trifecta of merriment as it can be incredibly rewarding intellectually, aesthetically, and monetarily. All we need to do is to pick a couple of winners in a sea of often obvious losers. Investing in art is a practical and fun way to commit to a child’s future while cultivating their love of the arts in the present. Unlike stocks, which are boring, and their close cousin, bonds (snooze alert), art can figuratively flourish right there on your living room wall. Start small and choose wisely. Then watch as those canvassed creations and light sensitive colloids give your apartment walls cocktail hour talking points as cleverly disguised ROI’s.
Important auction note: Never double fist with paddles, unless in China.
2) Quit your day job: I am not suggesting that you leave the work force entirely. Nor am I suggesting that you find a night job. What I am proposing is that perhaps your employment needs a slight modification. If you are reading this article it’s relatively safe to assume two things. First, you are at least slightly worried about the impending avalanche of fiscal responsibility known as higher education that creeps closer and looms larger with every birthday candle blowout. Secondly, your current job is not rewarding your genius handsomely enough otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this post. I say quit your day job! Just imagine, if you were stuck on an island (deserted) and you could do anything in the world that you wanted, what would you do? Now, figure out a way to make whatever you just thought about employable. Because whatever it was, it will make you happy, happy people work harder, and hardworking people make more Benjamins. Logical right? So, wake up tomorrow, have a super healthy five point breakfast, and tell the boss your exciting new plans.
3) Play the lottery: This one is easy. Here are my tricks. Rent a tux. Find the cheapest looking bodega (preferably one with a bodega cat) or the creepiest gas station in your neighborhood. Once it has been located, begin a stake out. Patience is key. Make sure you are positioned within reasonable proximity (when applicable) to your home as it may take several days (weeks?) for this all to unfold. Watch Powerball like a hawk. As it approaches $450 million, put on your tux and make your move. Begin playing any and all other lotteries available from your chosen vendor only. Play like a madman (think Lazlo in Real Genius) until you hit paydirt.
Bonus Hint: Put your lucky coin, feather, or rock in the leftern most fold of your cummerbund. Don’t ask me why, it just seems to work.
Feel free to use the following as number inspiration and good luck:
58600 – A year’s tuition at Yale
13080 – Room charge and board rate at Princeton
13550 – Harvard Grad housing (including utilities)
70000 – Projected yearly cost of college in 2028
4) Build a Killer App: This is harder than it reads. But the payoff can be so big that it’s worth the time and initial investment. First and foremost you need a board. No company worth its weight does anything without assembling a board. You should start with four members, not including yourself or your father. Once you have three, the fourth member should come easily. Remember that boards are often referenced in acronyms, so your members should have first names that can scramble into something great like POWERS or IPOING or AFRICA. Next you need the App. Focus on something so obvious that no one has thought of it and yet so critical everyone needs it. Like bread. You’re a quick learner.
5) Create a Kickstarter campaign: I know it’s sort of cliché, but funding an education on Kickstarter really is well worth a try. Particularly if you are clever with the payback mechanism. Why take on such a burden yourself when there are thousands of strangers just waiting, cash in hand, to be benevolent? If one can get people to fund The World’s Largest Jockstrap (pledged goal reached) or a Statue of Robocop in Detroit ($67,436 raised) then you should certainly be able to find funding for such a worthy need. I suggest trying to come up with really sweet kickbacks so your investors don’t feel completely fleeced.
As a conversation starter, I suggest you offer something like the following:
- A $10 pledge gets you an Instagram of my favorite Pinterest board.
- A $100 pledge gets you a lapel pin that reads, “Knock, Knock… Who’s There?”
- A $500 pledge gets you the accompanying, “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana” lapel pin.
- A $10,000 pledge. I will personally write, on command, a Haiku for you and another person of your choosing for one calendar year. (limited to 75 Haikus)
- A $50,000 pledge. Three rounds of a local micro-beer (on me) after my commencement. An “I Majored in Limited Addition” T-shirt designed, made and signed by me as well as free tickets to a parade down main street in the town of my choosing for two years.
As adults we really need to be clever (dare I say innovative) when it comes to creative parenting. The days of watching money compound in the bank are over. The days of 30k+ nursery schools are here. So start preparing today!
I hope that some of these ideas for funding your child’s education stir some of your own ideas, which I would love to hear about myself.