Resolve to invest in 2019

my529 makes it easy for you with automated contributions

By the time you read this, if you’re anything like most people, you have likely set some New Year’s resolutions … and then broken them.

Someone even marked a day for that. January 17 is apparently Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day.

However, for all the good things we want to do—lose weight, get organized, exercise more, save money—we are often vague about the execution. The way to succeed in your resolutions, according to a New York Times article titled “How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution,” is to be SMART about them. SMART, the January 2018 article explains, stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The concept comes from a 1981 management journal but is still used in management circles—and now, resolutions.

This year, you could resolve to get SMART about investing funds for education. Since the holidays are over, January is a great time to assess your goals and time horizon. Investing for future educational expenses, regardless of how much you contribute, is a resolution you will want to keep.

The easiest method to make SMART contributions regularly to your my529 account is by scheduling automatic transactions. Say you set up a monthly contribution of $X to be transferred from your bank account to your my529 account. Voila! Your contribution is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Resolution success unlocked.

By logging in to Account Access, you can arrange electronic contributions through your bank or credit union. You can also submit Form 200 for One-Time or Recurring Electronic Contributions Authorization/Change by mail.

Set it and let your contributions accumulate, allowing for potential growth. Even automating small contributions can add up over time. The earlier you start, the more time you have to invest. As an example, investing $20 a month over 18 years could yield $6,984, while a $50 monthly investment could turn into $17,460 over the same period. Investing $100 monthly for 18 years could become $34,920. (All numbers assume a 5 percent annual rate of return, compounded monthly with no initial contribution, and are used for illustrative purposes only.)

Other ways to be SMART about my529 contributions include inviting family and friends to contribute toward your beneficiary’s education via the my529 Gift Program. If you get a raise this year, think about contributing that percentage to your my529 account. You could contribute all or some of your tax refund if you receive one for the 2018 tax year. (Utah residents can donate a tax refund, in whole or in part, directly to their my529 account. See story for details.)