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Family Money

What steps are you taking to prepare for making your children's higher education a reality rather than a grave undertaking?
As a parent, the very thought of how my son will pay for higher education has kept me up at night. When our son was just 2 years old, my husband did some research and then set up a Virginia College Savings Plan — or VA529 — to help prepare our family for the extreme increases in tuition costs at public, four-year institutions. The VA529 will at least give our son the monetary support for higher education in an affordable manner and give us peace of mind.

We started our son's VA529 with $2,000, and each month we purposefully set aside a few hundred dollars to add to the plan. As Virginia taxpayers, we are able to deduct up to $4,000 per year, and this holds true for each account, if needed, with an unlimited carry-forward. And as an added bonus, these earnings grow free from federal tax.

We are lucky to live in Virginia since VA529 has emerged as a premier 529 Plan in the country and has several unique programs with many options to match our savings strategy and style. Choose from Virginia529 prePAID, Virginia529 inVEST, CollegeAmerica, and CollegeWealth. Research each program and decide which one is best for you on the Virginia529 College Savings Plan website at

We chose Virginia529 inVEST because it was really the only option that fit our needs since we didn't want to pre-pay, didn't have a financial advisor and we already had a savings account. Virginia529 inVEST allows us to save money in a variety of investments managed by professionals and is tax-free.

No matter your child's age, start talking about college costs and create a savings plan today.
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom who is financially vested in her son's future.


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Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches learned about a very important resource for families who have lost loved ones to sudden tragedy, an organization called LLOST.

keepsake box

The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.