Baby Step Five – College Savings

Welcome back to my continuing break down of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.  These are the steps he teaches in his books, and radio and TV shows to millions willing to listen and follow his advice.

I personally find these steps simple and easy to follow but also elegant and effective.

In previous installments I covered:

Baby Step 1 – $1000 Emergency Fund

Baby Step 2 – Pay-Off Debt Smallest Balance to Largest Using the Debt Snowball

Baby Step 3 – Boost the Emergency Fund to 3-6 Months of Household Expenses

Baby Step 4 – 15% Earnings Invested for Retirement

Today, we’ll examine Baby Step Five.

Baby Step 5 – Start Savings for Your Child’s College Education (as applicable)

This may be my favorite single step.  Not because I don’t want to experience the benefits accrued to the other steps – they are all winners – but rather because of what it represents.

I’ll explore this step by elaborating on what this step represents to me.

  • Assumed Affluence – face it, if you’re writing checks to send your child to college then you’re doing something right.  You may not be swimming in money, but you’re surely not bouncing checks and worrying about the mortgage each month.  Something may be keeping you up at night, but if you’re taken care of business on this front then it likely is not your cash flow position.  Bear in mind, I’m not saying affluence to suggest flash.  Rather, this is an attained position of financial comfort.
  • Love, Sweet Love – who wouldn’t want a couple extra hundred dollars in their budget each month?  That may represent a couple nice nights out with the spouse or access to the latest high tech gadget or (for many) an enhanced car payment.  Or, it could be quietly tucked away in an act of sustained selfless discipline and devotion aimed at your child.
  • Shoulders of Others – there’s a certain truth in the idea that each generation wants their children to achieve more than they did.  I know that my father loves me in the way he is so genuinely proud of the success and opportunity I’ve had in my life and career.  Through the years he has made sacrifices to help me along my way.  As a living tribute to his example, and with the hope that my child will one day see my love echoed back onto them, I want to shoulder as much of their educational costs as possible.

The tools for executing against this objective or step are varied and I’ll supply a handful of links to help inform your (and my) research.  However, the mechanics are less the point for this Step – at least in my mind.

Resource Links:

What is a 529?

Comparison of College Savings Plans

What is an Educational Savings Account (ESA)?


Whereas the previous steps have progressively influenced the relative comfort of your situation, In Step 5 you can begin to redirect the future path of your children.  Imagine them embarking on adulthood with no debt.  For so many of us, that’s the starting point we’re still struggling to achieve oh these many years later.  That’s why I want to advance my child’s starting point as far as possible.

That simply is worthwhile.


Stay tuned for upcoming installments in this series:

Baby Step 6 – Pay-Off the House

Baby Step 7 – Save, Invest, and Get Rich


Many other skilled and talented writers have dedicated time to dissecting Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps and I want to share their work for your review as well.  While I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed my treatment of the material, I’m confident you’ll expand your understanding and insights by spending time with the interpretations of others.

Read, Enjoy, Comment, Subscribe!

Bible Money Matters – step 5

My Two Dollars – step 5

 Dave Ramsey – step 5