Reader call: Money stuff

From the "heck if l know" file:

Shay’s Mamala writes:

"I have 2 questions related to money:

1. What do you and the readers think about saving for college? Is it a good
idea to have an account set up? What are your opinions about a 529 versus an
Education IRA? Is it better for us to concentrate on our own retirement savings?
College was not something that people in my family did, let alone saved for. I
maxed out grants and loans and worked several part time jobs to pay my way. I
don’t want my DD to have to juggle work and school and I certainly don’t want
her to leave college in debt like I did. However, I don’t know if saving
separately for her college makes sense. We could just use our own savings at
that time if she does not get funding from other sources.

2. Related to the above question and thoughts stemming from the posts on
digital organization. I wondering if other families use financial software
packages and if they are helpful in actually spending less and saving more. Are
they time consuming to use or can most information be automatically imported
into them from financial institutions. Do they make tax time easier? Not that we
have wads of dough to manage, but somehow I think we might do a better job with
our money if we were actually tracking it. What’s a good system?"

I know there’s an answer to both of these questions, and my suspicion is that a separate account is definitely the better choice for tax purposes (here in the US, at least, but I’d love to hear what Canadians, Aussies, people in the UK and other countries say). It sounds like some of this question is cultural, too, though, and that’s another interesting discussion.

And, yeah, question 2 is something I have no opinion on, but probably should.

I know you know, though, so please share.

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