Generational wealth: Saving for college

How the Moody family started small to build a college fund for their children.

When David and Karla Moody decided to start C.D. Moody Construction in 1988, they were deep in debt and struggling to provide for their two children, Karia and Charles. More than 30 years later, C.D. Moody Construction has completed more than 200 commercial projects worth an estimated $3 billion. 

Learn how the Moodys saved for college and secured a debt-free future for their kids. 

The Moodys made sure to teach their children about money management at an early age. But that’s not all they did to set their kids up for financial success. They also made a plan to save for their children’s college education. 

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 2018 graduates from public and private nonprofit colleges owed an average of $29,200 in student loan debt. 

But because of their parents’ careful financial planning, Karia and Charles were able to graduate from college debt free.

“I can honestly say not having college debt is one of the biggest blessings ever,” Karia said. 

Here are a few lessons from the Moody family’s story about saving for college:

1. Start early

The Moodys made saving for college a priority from day one, even before C.D. Moody Construction started getting multimillion-dollar contracts. 

“It was a plan we started the moment they were born,” David said.

As a result, Karia and Charles graduated from college debt free. The advantage given to them wasn’t lost on Karia.

“You go to college with the hopes of coming out and getting a job and being able to live this life,” she said. “And then you’re coming out and you’re already in a huge debt.”

The Moodys offer a positive example of what saving over time can do. And a reminder that it’s never too early to start saving. The sooner you start, the more your savings could benefit from years of compound interest.

2. Don’t be afraid to start small

As a young family, the Moodys were dealing with debt. But that didn’t stop them from putting money aside for college. Those savings started small, took many forms and changed over time. 

“Any little money we had, we put it in a savings account first, and we acted like we didn’t have that money,” David said. “Then, I started investing in stocks with it.”

So don’t be afraid to start small. In some states, you can fund a 529 college savings plan with no restriction on minimum contributions. And in other states, contributions can be as low as $25. 

3. Stay focused on your goals

Even though the Moodys started out with next to nothing, the idea of lifting up future generations was front and center in everything they did.

“I think that that’s just a theme within our family that’s really big,” Karia said. “Each generation has taught the next the importance of bringing up those that come behind you.”

Saving for college can feel like a lot to take on. But you might find extra motivation if you keep long-term goals—and their payoff—top of mind.

“I think my greatest feeling as a parent is that they were able to get an education and not be saddled with debt,” David said.

Read the next article in the generational wealth series

Want to learn more about the Moodys? See how they dug their way out of debt and never looked back.

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