When Lyle Harms was just one year old, his parents, Linda and Leonard, opened a NEST 529 College Savings account for him. “We wanted to give our son the opportunity to have the education we didn’t have,” Linda said.
The Harms, who run an antique tractor restoration business near Paxton, Neb., deposited $100 into the account and set up monthly contributions of $50. “There were times when we almost couldn’t afford that, but we made it our responsibility and we stuck with it,” Linda said.
Five years = $5,000
After five years, the Harms hit their first goal of $5,000. That’s when they upped their monthly contribution to $100.
Their main goal was to have $20,000 saved by the time Lyle graduated from high school. Linda said her husband, who is “pretty smart about investing,” selected the NEST investment option known as “Age-Based Aggressive” and stayed with it.
When the Harms hit $15,000, they lowered their monthly contributions back to $50.
So, did they meet their $20,000 goal?
Savings goal met!
Lyle graduated from Paxton Consolidated Schools in May 2018 with $23,405.86 in his NEST account. The money the family saved – along with seven scholarships Lyle earned – will more than cover the full cost of his education at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte where he enrolled in the Diesel Technology program.
“He loves it,” Linda said. “He is at the top of his class.”
The cost of college
Linda said the cost for Lyle’s first year of college (tuition, room and board, and books) was about $5,000. “If it wasn’t for saving in the NEST 529 plan, I don’t know what we would have done.”
Lyle also brings in income – and is gaining valuable experience – through a part-time job at Mid-America Diesel in North Platte.
Linda said Lyle looks forward to being a diesel mechanic, something he’s wanted to do most of his life. “Our son is very mechanically inclined – a skill he learned from his parents,” she said. We’re very proud of him.”
The Harms will have money left over in their 529 account after Lyle graduates from college. They plan to put that money toward their future grandchildren’s education.
Don’t think you can afford to save?
“We want to inform parents that it doesn’t take too much to save each month for their child’s future,” Linda said. “You don’t want your child to be paying on student loans into their fifties. Who wants their children to have the burden of being in debt for almost half their life?”
Thanks to the NEST 529 College Savings Plan for contributing some of the content for this article.