College savings should start in kindergarten and kids should be involved: financial expert

Here are tips for kickstarting your child's college education, according to an Arizona-based CEO

With the cost of college on the rise plus an unstable debt load, the best thing parents can do is to set children up for financial success — and that can start as early as the kindergarten years.

Gregg Murset, CEO of BusyKid, a chore app that provides kids with debit cards and financial education, believes the best way to avoid "digging yourself into a hole of debt" is by starting the saving process much earlier.

And while this may sound like a task for the parents, it's also something the kids should get involved with, according to Murset, who is based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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"I think it's really important that not only the parents start thinking about this, but the kids start thinking about it, too, because who made the rules that it's all up to the parents to pay for college anyway? I don't like that rule," Murset told FOX Business.

The best way to avoid empty wallets or anxiety surrounding pricey college tuition is for parents to consider saving early because kids are not as expensive when they're younger, Murset said.

kids counting money with parent

College may feel like years away when you have little ones, but that doesn't mean you have to wait to start saving for their education. (iStock / iStock)

"Having lived through six children of my own and raising them, and most of them are gone now, they're much cheaper [in] the beginning," said the financial expert.

"So, it's actually smarter to start saving when they're little because they don't cost as much."

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For Murset, it's not about how much the family is setting aside — but rather, the fact that consistent saving is taking place.

He suggested putting the amount into a growth mutual fund with a 20-year cut-off, and then start dollar cost averaging, so you can "set it and forget it."

college fund in a jar

It's not always about how much money you're setting aside, but rather that you are being consistent as you kick-start college savings for your child. (iStock / iStock)

While kids might be more excited about attending soccer camp or dance class and aren't thinking about college, it is still important for parents to start engaging in some sort of savings conversation when they are young. Murset suggested that the ages of 4 or 5 are not too soon to start.

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"I'm a big believer that kids learn best about money by doing stuff," he said.

"They can read things, they can watch videos, but at the end of the day, they need that practical, visceral experience."

Grett Murset headshot

Gregg Murset, CEO of BusyKid, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, reveals how to start helping your kids save for their college education when they're as young as 4 or 5 years old. (BusyKid / Fox News)

"You got to start that money conversation very young and let them practice. And they not only have to practice earning the money by actually working, but they have to learn what I call a ‘balanced financial approach.’"

Murset's "balanced financial approach" is about teaching kids to earn money, save, invest from savings — and then give some away.

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"I know that seems counterintuitive, but you've got to teach them that the world is a bigger place than just them," he said.

A great place to start teaching your children about earning and savings is in your own home, by assigning them chores, said Murset. He calls this a "work-money connection."

little boy doing chores

A great way to teach your children about the "work-money connection" is to get them involved around the house and take on some responsibility in exchange for an allowance. (iStock / iStock)

"Not only are they going to learn how to work and get something done, but you're going to get your house clean," Murset said with a laugh. 

Once they get the money that they earned, they must learn how to manage it, which is when the "balanced financial approach" comes into play.

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For parents getting ready to send their children off to college, it is best to discuss how four years of college will be paid for while they're still in high school — so that they are not left shocked or anxious about their savings. Murset said this is the time to start exposing them to the reality of how much life costs.

little goy counting money

As your kids get older, parents can start being transparent and show them how much the necessities of life can cost.? (iStock / iStock)

"A lot of parents have this little bubble and they don't tell their kids anything, and everything's wonderful. And they're clueless, so you have to start teaching them by being more transparent," Murset said.

"This is easy, and it's actually fun," he added.

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Murset advised asking kids to help figure out the cost of dinner at a restaurant, plus the tip, and they will start to realize that all things come with a price tag.

When a household's electric or auto insurance bills come in the mail, parents can show them how they're paying for these necessities — and they will quickly realize that life is not cheap, Murset said.

little girl working with her mom

Exposing your kids to financial realities could help them have a greater appreciation for money, but most importantly, a greater appreciation for you, suggested one financial expert. (iStock / iStock)

"Just be a little more transparent," he added. "Next thing you know, they're going to be like, ‘Whoa,’ and they're going to appreciate not only the money more, but they're going to appreciate you more. And that's just a bonus."

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The intent of exposing children to the reality of costs is for them to grow in financial understanding.

Once a child starts prepping for college or vocational school, parents can start what Murset calls the "accountability transfer."

college student paying loans

Once kids are accepted into college, they will have a better understanding of how to save for their education and for their future. (iStock / iStock)

This is the conversation between parent and child in which the child realizes that he or she is now responsible for the extras in life.

It may give the young ones a clear expectation of what to expect in their financial future.

When kids become responsible for their own tuition, they may take it upon themselves to find ways to lower those high tuition rates. This is when the scholarship search could begin.

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Without some sort of transfer of accountability, "[Kids] don't have any incentive to go figure out the whole scholarship thing. And then you're just wasting your money and not capitalizing on all the money that's out there for them to get help," Murset said.

college savings starts young split

It's never too early to start saving for your child's college education — but as they start getting older, they can join in on the financial responsibility, suggested one personal financial expert. (iStock / iStock)

"Transferring that responsibility to them lights a fire under them to go figure that out."

Teaching children the importance of saving while they're still young might even prepare them for other sizable investments in life that go beyond college.

In terms of helping kids create an investment portfolio with the mindset and understanding of what those savings are going toward, Murset said the best thing parents can do is "practice, practice, practice."

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle.

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