#WhyI529 July Spotlight:
Valuing higher education

Amanda Birdsong

Here's Amanda Birdsong of Wichita, Kan. story:

When did you start saving?

When my daughter, Brynlie, was just a baby. She's now 8 years old. I've already realized that starting to save early - just a little at a time - compounds and makes a difference. I'll have funds set aside when needed instead of hitting panic mode. As a single mom, it's important for me to provide opportunities for my daughter. There's no greater opportunity than college.

Why is saving for higher education important to you?

A college education has always been valued in my family. Growing up, my parents gave my brother and me three options after high school: 1. College. 2. Military. 3. Support yourself. My brother chose the military and I chose college. My parents always said: "You can do anything you want to do in life if you have a college education." I absolutely believe it because I'm living proof. I started the Rhea Lana's franchise (upscale children's consignment) in Wichita in 2009 to help families save money and it's been a hit with young parents!

What advice do you have for others?

I don't know about you, but we have way too many toys (consignment anyone?). Five minutes later, Brynlie has moved on to something else. One day I asked my parents, "Instead of more `stuff' (a.k.a. junk) for birthdays and holidays, how about a small item and $25 to $50 toward Brynlie's college education fund?" It worked. And, it's a fulfilling feeling to know their gift will have a genuine impact on her life.