When your kids are little, you put all your effort into getting them to sleep, getting them to eat things besides yogurt and getting them to keep their pants on (good luck with that one).
But when we read that 43 percent of parents aren’t saving any money whatsoever to put toward their kids’ college tuitions—then realized oh, hey, that’s us—it became clear that a priority shift was in order, like, yesterday.
On average, paying for four years of private college (including tuition, housing and incidentals) costs $203,600, according to collegedata.com. (If you want to assess the annual tuition cost of a specific institution—heyyyyy, Harvard—check out the U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator.)
In a move that is both helpful and horrifying, personal finance site SmartAsset breaks down the exact dollar amount you’d need to save each month to send two kids to college and still retire at 65. Its formula is based on your city’s median household income and cost of living and assumes you’re saving for college at age 30.
Buckle up. Here’s a taste: In San Francisco, it’s $1,066 a month. In Miami, it’s $684 a month. And in Burlington, Vermont, it’s $935 a month.
Have just one kid? Planning to start saving at 40? Adjust the numbers to suit your situation. But no matter how you slice it, all families would benefit from putting away hundreds of bucks each month—minimum.
Suddenly, rather than “Mama” and “yummy carrots,” you may want to teach your kids to say 401(k) and 529 Plan. You may not have thought seriously about math since the SATs. But here’s a formula you can’t afford to miss: Adulting x Parenting x Smart Saving = What it’s all about.