Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s time to decide between a meaningful, lasting gift and one that will be tossed in the trash before you know it. Keep reading to learn how to gift your child the adventure of a lifetime this Christmas with the gift of an AR 529 Education Savings Plan.
This post is written in connection with Arkansas 529. All opinions are my own.
No matter how much I try to stop time, George is growing like a weed. In late fall and early winter, we celebrate George’s birthday and Christmas all within a few weeks of each other. Being the only grandchild on one side and the youngest (by eight years) on the other side means he’s pretty well spoiled by his grandparents in the toy department. That leaves mom and dad to provide gifts that help to balance out the gadgets that, while fun, will be quickly outgrown.
We don’t just play an outdoor loving family on a blog and social media. This is real life for us. And long ago, we decided to limit screen time, limit toys that didn’t inspire creativity, and spend as much time outdoors as possible.
Nature is good for the brain.
There is a lot of research about the effects of spending time outdoors on the brain, and it’s really positive. Kids who spend time outdoors appear to exhibit more creativity, have better thought processes, retain more information, and handle stress better than kids who spend most of their time indoors. By spending more time outdoors, we hope that George develops a healthy appreciation for nature.
In 2020, our family participated in a challenge called 1000 Hours Outside. The challenge is to spend as much time as possible outdoors and track your time as you do it. George and I both met our 1000 Hour goals in mid-September. That means we averaged about 4 hours outside each day!
Some of our time was unstructured – we just went outside and did whatever we felt like. Some of it was more structured with specific goals in mind, such as hiking, camping, or completing a nature challenge.
I watched as George overcame his fear of caterpillars, learned to identify several trees and plants, and began leading the trail on our hikes. Seeing him absorb so much knowledge gets me excited for his future.
Will he be a park ranger, a biologist, a wildlife officer? Who knows!
But when we decided to help make sure that he is prepared when it comes time to make that decision by gifting him an AR 529 Education Savings Plan, we knew we had made a good choice because we were contributing to his biggest adventure – his future! And since we’re starting early, we can ensure that he gets the maximum benefit of our savings.
What is an AR 529 Education Savings Plan?
In short, it’s a savings plan that is specifically for your (or the recipients) educational future. The money saved can be used at any college, university, graduate school, trade school, or vocational program – worldwide! So we can start saving now to make sure that George doesn’t have to worry about his education’s financial burden no matter what career path he chooses.
What are the AR Gift Plan Benefits?
- Low startup cost – You can get started with as little as $25.
- Easy to contribute – Set up payroll deductions
- Tax Deductions – Arkansas taxpayers can deduct up to $5,000 (up to $10,000 for married couples) of your Arkansas 529 GIFT Plan contributions from your Arkansas adjusted gross income.
- Tax-Free Withdrawals – When you withdraw money for qualified expenses, you won’t pay taxes!
- Let Friends and Family Contribute – When George outgrows toys, his grandparents can easily contribute to his plan with the easy UGift option.
What if George doesn’t go to college?
It’s possible that he won’t. Right now, George wants to be a truck driver which requires a training program. The AR 529 funds would cover those costs!
Or he may earn a scholarship. Either way, the money saved can be used for anyone’s education – even your own! If you need to withdraw the money for some other reason, the funds are yours, but you will incur a tax penalty for any non-qualifying withdrawals.
How Do I Give an AR 529 Education Gift Plan?
Giving an AR 529 plan is SO easy. You can set everything up online from the comfort of your own home in under 15 minutes!
The latest toys are always so attractive, and I know George will be expecting something under the tree this year. At four years old – he’s not going to understand what a wonderful gift a 529 Education Plan is, but we will wrap the contribution certificate and give it to him anyway. He will grow into his understanding. George will get a few gadgets under the tree, but the best gift will be knowing that he can do it without financial worry when he’s ready to choose his career and education path.
Need more information?
Here are a few important links to help you as you decide to save for your child’s educational future: