Kids, College, and Careers

One of my favorite things about my current work life situation—compared to when I worked in a lab running music and brain experiments—is that my kids frequently have the opportunity to join me on work outings. And one of the great things about partnering over the years with the U.Fund Dreams Tour is that it so directly connects the dots between identifying goals and passions and thinking about how to bring them to fruition, which is something we talk about frequently in our house!

More specifically, as I described in my recent post about how to teach kids about money, Laurel (13) and Violet (7) are well versed in conversations about money, and they have also had plenty of exposure to conversations about education and careers—and how to finance education—given that between us, Jon and I have two bachelor’s degrees, three Master’s degrees, and one Ph.D., and we also both changed careers in our 30s. I don’t pressure the girls to think about specific careers per se; instead, I encourage them to think creatively and remember that they have so many options, and that it’s important to try different things so they can figure out where their passions lie.

All of this is related to Violet and my recent visit to the U.Fund Dreams Tour tent at the Cambridge Arts River Festival. This visit reminded me of a few things that I want to share with you.

1. If you haven’t yet explored or started a 529 college savings plan, do it!

Setting up a 529 is not hard; put it on your to-do list and get it done! I remember feeling immense peace of mind when Jon and I got the girls’ accounts squared up. If you feel uncertain about how to set one up, the (super friendly!) staff at the U.Fund Dreams Tour is there to help answer all of your questions, while your kids have fun at their activities stations! Check out the below calendar for events scheduled through October.

 The U.Fund Dreams Tour schedule includes stops now through October.

The U.Fund Dreams Tour schedule includes stops now through October.

 Definitely check out the upcoming U.Fund Dreams Tour event schedule; you can access information while your kids play!

Definitely check out the upcoming U.Fund Dreams Tour event schedule; you can access information while your kids play!

2. Get in the habit of adding 529 gifts to your kids’ birthday/holiday wish lists

As I mentioned in my how to teach kids about money post, Koreans are very much into the flat envelope gift (practicality is everything) and so it wasn’t at all weird when birthdays or holidays came around to ask for 529 gifts. And quite frankly, given how much people are into clutter-free gifting these days, even if you’re not Korean, people don’t think 529 gifts are weird! Now that the girls are so well versed in this stuff, they routinely add “college money” to their gift wish lists on their own. I love that this is top of mind for them now!

3. The future is female

I grew up in a traditional patriarchal Korean household so you better believe that I love raising my daughters to know that they can dream big and make things happen and be the boss. Violet has always loved all things outer space (last year she even went to outer space summer camp) so it was no surprise to me that at the U.Fund Dreams Tour tent at the Cambridge Arts River Festival she immediately gravitated towards the astronaut in the coloring mural. And then about 10 minutes later she met a woman in an astronaut suit. I mean, SERIOUSLY. Kids are living their best lives these days.

 At the U.Fund Dreams Tour mural, Violet went right for the astronaut.

At the U.Fund Dreams Tour mural, Violet went right for the astronaut.

 No biggie, just heading off to outer space shortly.

No biggie, just heading off to outer space shortly.

4. Sometimes your kids will surprise you

Despite said passion for outer space, while we were at the U.Fund Dreams Tour tent, I was reminded that sometimes kids will surprise you...and that the best thing they can do right now is encourage them to dream and explore and consider all the options. When faced with various props (including the ability to write in her own future profession), Violet made a choice that I know will make my Mom jump up and down with glee (she wants Violet to become a pediatrician).

 If Violet does, in fact, decide to become a doctor, I know my mom will be THRILLED.

If Violet does, in fact, decide to become a doctor, I know my mom will be THRILLED.

I hope you’ll get moving on the 529 college savings situation if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to check out the upcoming roster of U.Fund Dreams Tour events, and also just generally, encourage your kids to explore and figure out what lights them up!

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with MEFA and Fidelity. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.