Friday, July 1, 2016

Investing It Forward

Awhile ago my dad stopped by after he had cleaned out an old safety deposit box at the bank. He found my birth certificate (now I have two!) and a few savings bonds my grandparents had given me when I was little. Every year my mom’s mom and dad gave us kids a bond for Christmas. They started out as $50 bonds and then eventually progressed to $100. 

I had already cashed out the majority of the bonds my grandparents had given me over the years to go towards the down payment on our house, but as it turns out there were a few unaccounted for. The amount didn’t add up to a whole lot, but I wanted to do something special with the money.  I decided I would use it to start Ina’s college savings account. I added the bonds to a little pile of cash Ina received for her first birthday and placed them in my “to-do” pile underneath the breadbox in the kitchen and there they have sat until yesterday.

In defense of my procrastination, we are working Dave Ramsey’s plan, and saving for college isn’t until Baby Step #5. Now that we are debt free (#2), have an emergency fund saved (#3), and have a plan(ish) of putting 15% of our income towards retirement (#4), I felt confident in opening up a 529 for the girls. 

I grabbed the stack of bonds and stopped by the bank on my way to work. The nice gentleman at the tellar booth smiled at me as I walked up and told him I would like to deposit some cash and bonds. He asked for my driver’s license, which of course, I didn’t have. After searching in disbelief and only coming up with gift cards and Trader Joe’s receipts, I remembered I had moved it to my backpack the night we went to the Royals game. I offered up my CostCo card in its place, but was told it wasn’t needed.

The teller gave me a weird smile, and I felt like I needed to prove to him that those were my bonds. “My grandpa gave those to me when I was a kid.” 

“Oh” he said as he went to ask a superior if he could deposit bonds with out ID. 

As he left I looked at the bonds and remembered my grandpa proudly handing them out at Christmas. As a kid a savings bond that you can use ten years in the future isn’t exactly the most exciting present (we got plenty of toys as well), but even then I understood how important and special that gift was. 

Thinking of my grandpa made me smile. Gerald was his name. He died of cancer when I was in high school, so while I remember so many things about him, those memories have faded over the years. As I was standing there at the bank, a few came back to me.

He played solitaire. He was an artist and drew a really good Popeye and Mickey Mouse. In his retirement he purchased a sail boat and learned how to use it. He got fully dressed every morning (including shoes), completely changed back into his pajamas to take an afternoon nap, and then fully dressed again when he woke up. He was smart and hard working and worked as a teacher and then as a superintendent. He valued education. 

When the tellar came back and informed me he would deposit the bonds after asking a few security questions, I had this weird sense of completion, like I had finished something that was started a long time ago. I was literally giddy walking out of the bank, knowing there couldn’t be a more perfect thing to do with the money that was invested wisely for me when I was a kid. 

Now I will be investing it wisely for my kids. Hopefully they continue to pay it forward. 

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A few college savings resources:

- Financial Peace University

- Pros and Cons of a 529 Savings Plan

- The 529 we chose 

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