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Funding college savings plans for seven children

Speakers: Suzanne and Mike Mayernick

VIDEO, (6:18) Recorded October, 2012

MIKE MEYERNICK: The best part about having seven kids, I think, is that there is never a dull moment in our household. There is always something going on, and now that our older ones are in middle school and high school there’s always somebody extra here as well. Our house is sort of….

SUZANNE MAYERNICK: It’s open door policy.

MIKE: It is, it’s Grand Central Station. We have always wanted our house to be that house that other kids like to come to.

When we decided to adopt children, you know, financially that doesn’t make a lot of sense — at least in the world that we live in — because you have to make some of those other sacrifices.
But boy, looking back on those decisions that we’ve made, not in a million years would we change that.

SUZANNE: For me, I think just through the years and with each child, I’ve learned to choose joy rather than feel like everything always has be to happy all of the time. Because it’s hard, you know, days are hard. While my life looks nothing like I ever thought it would look, I have more joy and I’m more fulfilled than I could have ever dreamed that we would be, as a couple and as a family.

MIKE: I’m very concerned about the rising cost of tuition. I keep seeing the numbers and the percentage increases and the cost of living and it’s daunting. We have planned with our college savings programs that each of our seven kids would attend an average college, in other words, average cost university. So I actually use a combination of savings vehicles. One is 529 plans, one is uniform gift to minors accounts, which are custodial accounts, and actually a little bit in these education savings accounts that can be funded through their custodial accounts.

Long story short, I hope that we are able to fund this average cost number for all of our kids. And being the planner that I am, I would like to not count on cash flow to do that. I’d like to count on savings to do that. So I always felt like the tax savings of the 529 plan was really sort of a no-brainer. It sort of became my vehicle of choice for money that I knew would be used for college.

Well, believe it or not, we actually have a financial adviser. I’m a financial adviser. But we have a financial adviser. He’s a good friend, he’s a confidante. He will ask us a lot of the same questions that I ask my clients. It’s really good to have somebody occasionally sitting across the table from me, just like I do with my clients, asking me tough questions just like I do with my clients, digging deeper.

And then secondly, I know that if something ever happened to me, because I’m the financial mind of the house, she’s already in good hands. She doesn’t have to go find that person. This person already knows us, knows our situation. I sleep well at night knowing that even if I were out of the picture or something happened to me that the plans that we’ve begun to make will be fulfilled because we have somebody else there already. I do think it’s important that we practice what we preach as financial advisers.

SUZANNE: We made a choice early on that we would partner together and work together for our childrens’ future, whether we have two children or seven children.

MIKE: I would just add to that, that it kind of became for us, why wouldn’t we? A lot of people say, why would you do that? And for us it got to the point where it’s like well, why wouldn’t we, why shouldn’t we? Because we’re talking about college funds. A lot of kids don’t even have parents, much less a college fund.

SUZANNE: Or a meal.

MIKE: Or a meal.

SUZANNE: Or food to eat.

MIKE: Yeah.

SUZANNE: When Mike and I heard about Josie in Uganda, we knew that she had some special needs. We didn’t quite know what they were. But at the end of the day, if she was our child it really didn’t matter what her special needs were, that we would be equipped to help her and care for her.

MIKE: The good thing about the adoption journey and our family is our kids have been all-in. A lot of people ask the question, do you worry about your biological kids?  No.

SUZANNE: They’re all Mayernicks.

MIKE: This deal has worked and she has changed our lives for the better like all of our kids have.

SUZANNE: I had a friend ask me the other day: so you’re saving this money for college. Let’s say that half of your kids get scholarships, and what are you going to do with the money that’s left over? For me, I would love to help another child be able to go to school. Or somebody here in the United States that’s not as fortunate to have the money set aside. I would love to be able to help them, or I would love to go overseas and help children that literally can’t go through primary school, to be able to encourage them and afford them that capability to be able to do that. And so I think for both of us, the money will be spent in….

MIKE: Can we decide the answer to those choices on our trip to Hawaii?

SUZANNE: Where we go to relax and rest.

MIKE: We might have to do that to figure it out.


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