Like most parents, I’m interested in my children’s future. I’d like them to be able to go to college if they want. I’d also like it if they could have a great college experience without a ton of student loan debt when they are done.
I’ve used the calculators. And let’s just be honest here. There is NO WAY that we could ever save enough to fully fund our three boys’ college educations. We’d have to put away nearly $2,000 a month to do it and that is just flat out impossible for us. We can’t afford that, and we really do need to focus on our own retirement. Our kids can borrow money for school; we can’t borrow money for living expenses when we’re older.
When our oldest son was born, my uncle asked me if I’d signed up for Upromise. I had never heard of it at the time. For those of you who may not know, Upromise is a program that gives you money for your child’s college tuition (in the form of a 529 plan) based on the products and services you buy.
At first, I was pretty interested. I mean, it’s free money for college. It sounded like a no-brainer. But then, I learned I would have to give Upromise my debit card and credit card numbers so that they could track ALL my expenditures.
I couldn’t sign up for it. It felt way too much like Big Brother for me. Essentially, Upromise could see how I spend my money, and then use that information to target me. I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. But I also carried around a little parental guilt for turning down free money for my kids.
Then I saw Smart Money’s article “Can Upromise Ease Parents Anxiety Over Tuition Bills?” and it reminded me of why I didn’t sign up for the program:
“SUPPOSE YOU OPEN the door one fine Sunday morning to find a well-dressed man on the stoop. He’s got a camera, a clipboard and an odd request: “Can Irummage through your closets and cupboards, watch you surf the Web and read your credit card statements for the next 18 years?” Good lord, he must be one of those consumer-data pervs. But just as you’re about to slam the door in his face, he offers the clincher: “I’ll pay your kid’s college tuition!”
That’s exactly how I felt about the program. Quite torn. But here’s the real thing. People aren’t making all that much money in exchange for their loss of privacy. Here’s what the article had to say about potential earnings:
“While some parents have earned thousands, that’s a tough feat unless you shop almost exclusively with Upromise partners. In reality the average member hasearned just $47 so far.”
Less than $50 bucks? Lucky if that will buy a textbook in 2026. If I’m going to give a company access to my personal spending habits, I want a lot more than that.
What do you think? Have you joined Upromise? Why or why not?