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How to Eat an Elephant

The common response to the question, “How does one eat an elephant?” is, “One bite at a time”. Similar advice is routinely offered to anyone setting off on an unfamiliar trek, “A successful journey starts with the first step.” When it comes to developing a funding plan for University, the same daunting question arises, “Where do we start?” Just like developing a plan for vacation, some simple initial steps are required.

First, before committing to a particular vacation destination, one should consider several economic realities. What is the budget? What are the competing financial objectives? Subsequent steps would include the consideration of reasonable alternatives and methods of attaining the goal. If an exotic destination is the desire, there may be financial sacrifices or tradeoffs. In considering University, a family may determine that in order to pay for the target school, it requires a temporary delay in another financial objective like accelerating a mortgage payoff or aggressive retirement funding. Conversely, by approaching University funding this way, a family may determine that an overemphasis on funding college has made them aware that a competing priority is in fact more important.

In order to develop a University funding plan that is right for you, it is imperative that you consider financial resources as well as overall priority and timing. Because University expenses most often come before retirement, does not necessarily mean that funding University is a higher priority. Proper University funding is a combination of determining available resources, identifying competing financial objectives, and the development of overall prioritization.