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Archive | December, 2014

This Holiday Season, Plan Beyond the Shopping and Festivities – Plan for the Future

This Holiday Season, Plan Beyond the Shopping and Festivities – Plan for the Future

collegesavingsThe holiday season is filled with joy, celebration and lots of planning—planning the perfect gifts, planning where to get the best shopping deals, or planning a delicious holiday menu.

Yet there is one plan that isn’t always top of mind come December: planning for college. With the cost of college doubling every nine years[i] and parents only on track to cover 28 percent of their college savings goals[ii], there is no better time to make saving a priority.

Giving: A Family Affair

Parents don’t want their children living with debt, as eight out of 10 are concerned that it will hinder their child’s ability to be financially independent post-graduation[iii]. Despite that fact, and that many parents are failing to meet their college savings goals, many are not asking for help from loved ones. Only 21 percent of parents report asking family and friends to consider gifting to a college fund in lieu of traditional presents for special occasions[iv].

The good news is that friends and family—particularly grandparents—want to help and are already having college savings conversations. Fidelity’s recent Grandparents and College Savings Study found that 69 percent of grandparents acknowledge talking to their children about college issues, including topics like the total cost of college and how the family will pay for it. But grandparents aren’t just stopping with conversations; they’re contributing too. According to the study, 90 percent of grandparents reported that they would be likely, if asked, to make a contribution to their grandchild’s college savings fund for special occasions in place of other gifts[v].

What’s driving grandparents’ willingness to help save? Fidelity’s newest eBook, “Gifting Grandparents: A Holiday Tale,” explores these motivations and many grandparents cite the importance of an education, skyrocketing tuitions and fees, and wanting their grandchild to be debt-free post graduation as reasons behind their generosity, among many more[vi].

Saving Made Easy

One way that grandparents are helping their grandkids plan for the future is by contributing to 529 plans. According to the same study, 52 percent of grandparents report already being familiar with 529 college savings plans, which are dedicated solely to college savings and allow savings to be used federal income tax-free for qualified higher education expenses such as tuition, books and other education-related supplies and fees.  In fact, there was a 12 percent increase in the number of new Fidelity retail 529 accounts opened by grandparents during the first four months of 2014 alone (January through April), compared to the same time period in 2013[vii].

Adding the gift of education to your holiday plans has never been easier. In fact, grandparents and other loved ones can gift from the comfort of their own home. Using Fidelity’s free 529 Online Gifting Service, owners of Fidelity’s retail 529 college savings accounts can use social media to encourage friends and family to help them save for college online. Giftors, like grandparents, can send their contributions electronically directly to the 529 college savings account – so no need to mail a check.

By: Keith Bernhardt, vice president of college planning at Fidelity Investments

The UNIQUE College Investing Plan, U.Fund College Investing Plan, Delaware College Investment Plan, and Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan, are offered by the State of New Hampshire, MEFA, the State of Delaware, and the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, respectively, and managed by Fidelity Investments. If you or the designated beneficiary is not a New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, or Arizona resident, you may want to consider, before investing, whether your state or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers its residents a plan with alternate state tax advantages or other benefits.
Units of the Portfolios are municipal securities and may be subject to market volatility and fluctuation.
Please carefully consider the Plan’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing. For this and other information on any 529 College Savings Plan managed by Fidelity, contact Fidelity for a free Fact Kit, or view online. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.
Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC
900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
©2014 FMR LLC. All rights reserved.


[ii] Fidelity Investments, “8th Annual College Savings Indicator Study,” August 2014

[iii] Fidelity Investments, “8th Annual College Savings Indicator Study,” August 2014

[iv] Fidelity Investments, “2014 Grandparents and College Savings Study,” June 2014

[v] Fidelity Investments, “2014 Grandparents and College Savings Study,” June 2014

[vi] Fidelity Investments, “Gifting Grandparents: A Holiday Tale,” December 2014

[vii] Fidelity Investments business data through April 30, 2014

Posted in Paying For College1 Comment

4 Winter Wardrobe Essentials For College Students

4 Winter Wardrobe Essentials For College Students

collegeclothesThe weather is getting colder and those shorts and T-shirts are not keeping you warm anymore. That means it’s time to start thinking about a winter wardrobe that will look great and go easy on the budget. Fortunately, many winter clothes can play double or even triple duty. Or, in other words, they can be worn casually for class or be dressed up a bit for job interviews and holiday dinners. Consider the following four cold weather necessities and accessories:

A Carpet Skirt

A carpet skirt is a great addition to any college winter wardrobe, claims The Refinery. Unlike more formal and often itchy wool skirts, the carpet skirt features bold prints and is usually made with a more comfortable blend of cotton and polyester. They aren’t terribly expensive either; Topshop sells a Kirada Jacquard Midi Carpet Skirt for just under $100. This skirt can be worn for many occasions from class to an intern interview, making it well worth the money.

Dark Rinse Skinny Jeans

One of the great things about skinny jeans is that they look great on all body types and sizes. They also work well with a variety of tops, allowing you to keep your own personal style with the staple piece. Furthermore, skinny jeans can be dressed up with a nice shirt and some accessories for holiday meals with grandma, or they can be paired with a long sleeved T-shirt for grabbing pizza with friends. Skinny jeans also are easy on the budget –  American Eagle Outfitters sells a variety of dark rinse skinny jeans for men and women for less than $40.

Colored Contacts

For college students who wear contact lenses, it can be fun to mix it up a bit during the winter months with color contact lenses. This can easily add some oomph to your winter fashion choices and give you the change you’re looking for. This change also can bring more attention to your eyes and face, so try changing up your makeup routine to match the new color. Vision Direct stocks colored contact lenses in hues like Brilliant Blue or Gemstone Green – the blue contacts can complement the icy winter and the green can match your holiday decorations.

Dressy Sweatshirts

Sweatshirts are not just for the gym or lounging at home. In fact, many retailers sell sweatshirts that are nice enough to layer with casual and dressy outfits. LL Bean sells attractive and budget-friendly sweatshirts for both men and women. And the best part is how comfortable you will be these crewneck ultrasoft sweats for women are made of French terry that is super smooth on the outside and soft on the inside. The sweatshirt also features a more feminine cut, which means it can easily be paired with skinny jeans and a nice scarf or necklace to complete a cute, comfortable look.

No matter what winter staples you purchase this winter, be sure they can be worn multiple ways in multiple settings. This will help you save money and vary your look with minimal effort. Happy shopping!

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Avoid The Winter Blues – Affordable Entertainment for Students

Avoid The Winter Blues – Affordable Entertainment for Students

entertainmentMost college students don’t have much extra spending money on hand these days after paying for tuition, books, meals and room and board. Entities such as cable television and trips to concerts or the movies are luxuries. However, thanks to today’s technology, many higher education learners can have a great time with some affordable entertainment options that won’t break the bank. Here are a few ways they can save a few dollars each month.

Streaming Movies and TV Shows

Cable television costs continue to increase forcing many college students to forego traditional cable subscriptions in favor of Internet streaming. Providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime are making a killing on college campuses because they affordable and mobile. Students can watch free movies, trailers and current and old television shows from their home television via a streaming media player such as a Roku, Google Chromecast or Apple TV or through their tablets or smartphones. They can save up to several hundred dollars a year.

Renting movies is also a great option to spending hard-earned cash at the movie theatre. Online, you can rent movies from Redbox, Amazon, Netflix and iTunes. Redbox also has a kiosks at nearly every grocery store, so there’s another option for students to save a few bucks.

Downloading or Streaming Music

Living on a shoestring budget also means not spending a large amount of money on musical entertainment. For students who do not want to pay a lot for music can download some free songs from iTunes or GooglePlay. For streaming songs, there are many options including Pandora or Spotify. However, for Samsung Galaxy users who want to be in charge of the music they listen to can do so with Milk Music, an ad-free, Internet radio service that allows consumers to personalize listening experiences. Milk Music is available in two tiers with more than 200 stations programmed. The free version allows six song skips per hour. The premium service has off-line listening, unlimited song skips and a sleep timer.

Video Gaming

Playing video games is a great way for college students to not only reduce stress, but is also a cheap way to spend an evening. For students who own a PS4, PS3 or PS Vita, they can download some free games, add-ons and apps from Sony Entertainment. Users can also download free video games from CNET and

Prepaid Cell Phones

Even though there are many on-contract smartphone plans that are affordable, college students can save even more by purchasing a prepaid cell phone. There are several providers that offer services and devices that can help save a few dollars each month including Consumer Cellular, Net10 and ChitChat Mobile. Another affordable phone option for students is purchasing used or refurbished smartphones and joining family phone plans.

On-Campus Events

College campuses are a haven of entertainment events such as plays, concerts, lectures, poetry readings, sporting events and more. Student unions typically have discounted tickets for these types of activities, as well as some off-campus events such as movies, museums and other entertaining ventures.

Deals of the Day

A great way to draw college students off campus is through some great entertainment deals. Local coffeehouses, retail stores and restaurants typically offer daily deals on sites such as Groupon, Woot and LivingSocial. Students can receive large discounts on a variety of items, often 50 percent or more!

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