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Want to send two children to a public 4-year college? That’ll be about a half-million dollars.

Private college tuition has been increasing at a rate of 4.5% per year. Public school tuition has been increasing at an even faster rate of 6.5%. According to one projection at Forbes based on those percentages, by 2030, one year at an elite school could average about $132,000. one year at a public 4-year college could average $73,000.

Those price tags seem hopelessly expensive to parents of young children still balking at the cost of diaper bags, but by starting college savings before your child is out of diapers, you can turn relatively small savings into a tuition check.



What is a 529 plan?

The “529” in 529 plan refers to the tax code that permits these savings accounts. Don’t let the name bore or intimidate you, because section 529 is incredibly valuable to parents trying to pay for college. That section of the tax code allows parents to invest money with no state or federal tax, as long as that money is used to pay for education.

Why should I invest in a 529 plan?

The first reason to invest in a 529 plan is the same reason you should save for any expense: compound interest. Starting early means your money has more time to grow before your children empty the nest.

The second reason to invest in a 529 plan is that unlike other sorts of investments, you will not have to pay state or federal taxes on your gains so long as the account is used to pay for college or other qualifying educational expenses.

Does my state offer a 529 plan?

The majority of parents saving for college can find a 529 plan in their state. Two states (Washington and Wyoming) do not offer 529 savings plans.

Does my state offer a good 529 plan?

Although nearly all states offer 529 plans, not all plans are created equal.

Forbes has a color-coded chart to help you decide whether or not to stick with your own state. That advice is based on two main factors: the fees associated with the savings plan and the state tax deduction for college savings contributions. If your state is green, then it has comparatively low fees and/or a sizable deduction for savings plan contributions. Yellow states may have high fees and/or low deductions. Red states offer no advantages for residents, who should comparison shop for the best plan in another state. To learn about plans in your state or to compare plans from different states, explore the 529 map at savingforcollege.com.

If you live in a state with a strong 529 plan, there’s little left to do but sign up for an account and set up recurring payments. If you’re shopping for a plan, you might begin with savingforcollege.com’s Top 10 performers of 2016 to see which plans might be bet for you.

How much money should I save?

Once you have opened a 529 plan, you’ll need to decide how much to contribute to it.

If the cost of public college tuition continues to rise at its current rate, only a rare few could pay out of pocket. With Forbes’ estimated $73,000-a-year bill, it’s safe to say that most parents won’t be able to save enough money to pay for college in full.

For example, if you are just starting to save and want to pay the full bill for 2030’s projected average in-state tuition, Investor.gov’s Savings Goal Calculator projects you’ll need to save $292,000, which breaks down to monthly contributions of $1,324 for the next 13 years (assuming a 5% interest rate).

That is an impossible savings scenario for many parents. It may not even be a desirable one.

The question of how much to contribute is not a simple mathematical question. It’s a philosophical one. Do you want to ensure your child emerges from college with no debt? Do you want to ensure that your child has reasonable monthly loan repayments that don’t inhibit his/her future choices? Do you want to offer your child in-state tuition, expecting him/her to pay for the difference for a private or out-of-state school? Your answers to those questions can help you decide how much money to put into a savings account.

What are the tax incentives for saving in a 529 plan?

All parental philosophy aside, there are be some minimum amounts you may want to reach, because there are tax incentives for doing so. Indiana, Utah, and Vermont all offer tax credits for contributions to 529 plans, so parents saving in those states should attempt to max out their allowable contributions.

In some states, the benefit of tax deductions for 529 contributions is relatively modest. In Ohio, for example, married parents filing jointly can deduct up to $2,000 per beneficiary per year. In other states, the tax deduction is much higher. New York allows $10,000. South Carolina has no limit on 529 plan deductions.

These deductions and credits mean that you will have a future benefit (money for college) and a current benefit (lower tax bill) as a result of your savings. That’s part of the reason it’s important to review your own state’s plan before enrolling in another state’s plans. Generally, those deductions require that your 529 plan be from the same state in which you pay taxes.

If you live in Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, or Pennsylvania, the world is your oyster. Those five states all allow income tax deductions for contributions to any 529 plan across the US, which means that parents in those five states can choose one of the highest-performing 529 plans and still receive a tax deduction for their contributions.

There are two more conditions under which you may want to pick an out-of-state plan. If you live in a state with no income tax, you should feel free to shop around and pick the plan with the best return, as there is no particular incentive to stick with your own state. If you live in a state that has state income tax but does not allow deductions for 529 contributions (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, or North Carolina), you may also want to shop around to see what better plans are out there.

What if I don’t have enough money to put into a 529 plan?

There’s a perception that if you can’t put thousands into a savings account, that account can’t be valuable. Every little bit does help, especially if that little bit is consistently invested.

Financial planners encourage young earners new to saving to smart small: skip just one latte per week.

Skipping coffee may be a non-starter for you. Financial advisors making the latte recommendation probably weren’t awake up all night with a baby before trying to navigate Target with a cart of hangry kids. The latte example can help you start to think about saving.

Let’s say you take those hangry kids to Target every week (a generous underestimate). If you spend $5 each time you pass the Dollar Spot (another generous underestimate), that’s $260 per year. If you skip the Spot and instead deposit the money you would have spent into a 529 plan for 10 years at 5% interest, you’ll end up with over $3,400. Keep going for 8 more years and you’ll have over $7,600.

Now imagine that same savings account got a good initial boost from a grandparent or auntie. If you open the account with $1,000 and make your Spot-less deposits for 18 years, you’ll have over $10,000.

Can other family members make contributions to the account?

Many 529 plans make it easy for parents to grant electronic access to family members wishing to make a deposit. So whenever someone asks you what you need for your child, talk about the college fund. You might also consider making a preset plan about what to do with cash gifts to your infant or young child. How much goes to adorable-if-unpractical shoes and how much goes in the 529 account?

What if my child decides not to go to college?

The beauty of 529 plans is that, while they are designed for education, it doesn’t have to be your child’s education. If one child decides not to withdraw from the account, you can name another of your children, or an extended family member, as a beneficiary. You can even use the money for your own education. Let’s say you’re dreaming of going back to college once the kids are out of the house. You can pay for photography classes and, in some cases, the camera equipment, which can be counted as an eligible expense.

Your child can also treat the 529 as a different kind of educational experience. If he wants to spend his 529 money backpacking Europe, or as seed money for his first business, the account will incur two types of penalties. First, you’ll have to pay federal taxes on the income, as well as state taxes for any portion of the money you claimed a deduction on. You’ll also have to pay up to 10% in withdrawal penalties.

If your child can come to you with a travel plan or a business plan and explain how he’ll absorb the financial penalties? That’s an early-but-valuable financial lesson in cost-benefit analysis.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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