“We blinked”: Graduating twins ready to use Plans
Cristy Clavijo-Kish remembers being in birthing class and receiving information about Florida Prepaid.
Now, her identical twin daughters – whom the teen cancer survivor calls her two “miracles” – are Class of 2020 graduates of Immaculata La Salle High School in Miami.
“We literally blinked,” Cristy said.
The time certainly flew, but fortunately Clavijo-Kish and her husband seized a few of those fleeting moments to purchase two Prepaid Plans for their girls. She remembers EXACTLY where she and her husband found the money in their budget to buy them.
“We were spending $400 a month in diapers and formula, and I was tired of literally throwing money down the drain with the diapers,” she recalls thinking as the girls neared their second birthday. “I was on a mission to potty train. Instead of adding another car or buying more unnecessary items, we took that money that was already going out and turned it into our college savings.”
With the Plans purchased, it became a matter of faithfully making those monthly payments. Most months, they didn’t miss the money, which became just another line item in the budget.
“I think you have to look at it from a discipline standpoint. We were people who bought used cars because saving for this moment mattered to us,” said Clavijo-Kish.
Now, her girls have goals and plans that Clavijo-Kish could only daydream about when they first purchased the Plans. Olivia will study public health at University of Florida, and Sophia will study film at Florida State University – a college choice that Clavijo-Kish, a rival University of Miami alumna, admits she is still getting used to. “I told her maybe – maybe — I could possibly wear some kind of FSU mom shirt one day, but I can assure you I am never going to tomahawk chop,” she said with a laugh.
With both girls heading off to school with both Prepaid Plans and Bright Futures scholarships, Clavijo-Kish and her husband are looking back on their early investment and monthly diligence with a sense of gratitude. At 50 and 48, they recognize something now that they didn’t give a lot of thought to in their early 30s.
In 2018, 56 percent of American parents said they were saving for their children’s college education.
“You start getting closer to retirement. That’s a lot of money to spend now versus having saved it all along,” she said. “Thinking about having to put all that money out right now … it would be a lot. When you get to the stage where we are now, having their college savings ready, you get to be really comfortable and enjoy the experience more.”
Clavijo-Kish’s father was a lifelong saver, and she tried to learn from him and take his advice. Now, the founder of the blogging site Los Teens + Tweens (https://lostweens.com) shares similar advice with anyone who cares to hear it.
“Now, Florida Prepaid even has the One-Year University Plan. I tell people, a year is better than zero,” she said. “It feels like you can’t, right? But you can if you try to manage that budget. Learn to create a budget around saving for college; it’s an important family legacy.”
“When your kids are little, you’re in the thick of it. But if you recognized these years are going to come and you create that budget, it’s doable,” she said. “You really do blink and you get there.”