Make the holidays and a child’s future bright

A guest column from state Treasurer Clint Zweifel.

This holiday season I encourage you to join me in giving the gift of college savings to a child in your life by opening or contributing to a MOST—Missouri's 529 College Savings Plan account. Each year around this time, I like to remind folks this is a great tool for gift giving – gifts not always requested, but definitely needed.

Starting a MOST 529 account is easy and doing so and contributing to it by the end of year qualifies you for a 2011 Missouri tax deduction.*

You can open an account in about 10 minutes with as little as $25, and can continue to contribute $25 or more on a regular basis or at your convenience. An amount, any amount, can add up to make a big difference after high school. 

One of my favorite examples is all about the power of compounding. If you save $50 a month from the time a child is born until he or she is age 18, you could have almost $17,000 saved. This is based on a 5 percent annual return and no withdrawals during the period, but it is an example of how even a small investment can really add up over time.

I want to make sure you know investment returns are not guaranteed, and you could lose money by investing. This hypothetical example does not represent any particular investment and actual returns may be higher or lower. The final account balance does not reflect any taxes or penalties that may be due upon distribution.

MOST 529 has low costs and no account fees for Missouri residents, and Missourians can choose from a wide range of investment options at www.mostcollegesaver.com.

 My wife, Janice, and I use MOST 529 to save for our daughters’ future. We know, like you, we may not be able to save enough to cover the entire bill, but replacing a few gifts with extra college savings can go a long way to paying those bills.

Another bonus to MOST 529 account owners is contributions and earnings grow deferred from federal and Missouri state income taxes and can be withdrawn tax-free when used for qualified higher-education expenses, including tuition, certain room and-board expenses and books.

What I think is great for families across the state, is the flexible way you can use your MOST 529 savings. It can be used for eligible four-year colleges, two-year colleges and technical schools anywhere in the United States.

I hope you will consider some added college savings this holiday season. You can sign up at www.mostcollegesaver.com today. You can also sign-up to use Ugift®, a service that lets you invite family and friends to celebrate the holiday season by helping with college savings.

Now is the time. MOST is the Plan.


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