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I'm very similar to rad. We started saving when I found out I was pregnant, and diligently put money aside for their college costs out of every paycheck. I used a few DRIPs so that all my dividends were reinvested, and I increased what we saved both for them and towards our retirement by splitting raises with them. We kept our same standard of living for years with entire raises going into savings, and that helped a lot.

I also did things like move money budgeted for them into college savings when an expense went away. When they got out of diapers, I put the diaper money into college savings. When they stopped needing full time daycare and just used after school care, the savings was so much that I split it with half going to college savings and half to retirement.

As IP mentioned, we consider their educational expenses to be their inheritance, and if there is anything else left when we die, that will be gravy.

Like rad, we had the kids pay a few things during college, but they knew about that all along and could save up. They were responsible for books, spending money, car insurance, and gas. We paid for everything else.

I saved a very small amount in 529s for each of them, and then spent that money the first year to clear out the accounts. I didn't like the lack of control in terms of not being able to choose individual stocks, and I always had a concern that DS may not go to college, and with twins, my kids were in school the same 4 years, so I didn't want to risk the money not being spent on him, and not having another child after that to use the money.

We prioritized the kids' college above retirement, and so instead of retiring at 56, which was one year after they graduated, I will be retiring at 59, but that is my choice, and I am happy to have paid for their education.

We took few vacations, but they have been to FL a few times as they had grandparents down there. I don't think they felt deprived at all, and they never really wanted for anything. They notice now that all their friends are struggling with student loan debt, but they don't have any, and with DS being a chef and making very little money, student loans would have crushed him.

As was also mentioned, move the money out of the market, no matter how good the market is doing, when the kids are freshmen and finish by the time they are sophomores. I moved all their money to cash in 2006-2007, and when the market crashed in 2008, they did not need to use a back-up plan and could still go to the schools of their choice.

I spent a lot more than the OP is planning on spending, and was able to do that via careful savings, investing, and knowing our priorities. I would absolutely do it again.
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