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Thanks for Giving and Savings

Thanksgiving, that time of year that people give the thanks and say the things, then they eat their turkey (we’re tofurkey fans), put on a pair of sweats and go to the local Wal-Mart to wrestle strangers for video games. On average the day goes from drumsticks to joysticks in about three hours.

But still, there were thanks in there for a moment—we all saw it—and while reasons may vary, there is one thing that should make everyone at the table thankful: being able to afford college. For dessert there’s that lack of crippling student loan debt. Pass the pie.

Now this conversation can go a couple of ways. For instance, someone might mention that college should be free, which is a wonderful idea, but perhaps not the most practical or easy to implement. That statement then leads to the drunk uncle of your choice going on and on about all of the things that remind you why you’ll spend next Thanksgiving with your partner’s family and all of their respective baggage, and everyone knows that other people’s relatives are much more satisfying to laugh at. Or, and this is important, the topic can start over sound, solid savings plans that everyone can contribute to, and when I say everyone can contribute to it, I mean get that drunk uncle to put his money where his mouth is before it’s time to go wrestling.

I’m talking about the ScholarShare 529 Plan.

A 529 college savings plan is a lot like a 401(k) plan, but instead of saving for retirement you are saving for the higher education of anyone you choose (including yourself). ScholarShare 529 is California’s 529 college savings plan as federal law dictates that all 529 college savings plans must be state sponsored; however, a resident of any state can invest in any other state’s 529 college savings plan. That means that if you want to save for the education of someone living in another state you can, so everyone at the holiday table can make contributions to the account. In addition, there isn’t an income or age limit to participate in any of the 529 plans (state-sponsored college savings plans or prepaid plans).

You can enroll online and submit your initial contribution electronically or establish an automatic contribution plan. You can also download enrollment materials or request an enrollment kit to have the materials mailed to you. The minimum initial contribution is $25 per investment portfolio, and yes, it is an investment—you are investing in the future of someone you care about, and that should make you feel pretty darn brilliant. There is even an interactive comparison tool to compare the plan features and benefits, because ScholarShare because doing the right thing doesn’t always have to be difficult.

This post was written in partnership with ScholarShare and I have been compensated for it. All opinions are my own, because education is important and something to be thankful for.

Whit Honea is the author of “The Parents’ Phrase Book” and co-founder of the philanthropic organization Dads 4 Change. He is the Social Media Director/Community Manager of the Dad 2.0 Summit. His writing can be found at Fandango, GeekDad, Disney, Today, Good Housekeeping, City Dads Group, Stand Magazine, The Washington Post and several other popular publications. He previously covered travel for Orbitz, CBS and AOL, and served as Editor of Family Travel for UpTake. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable, Whit has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is the 2015 winner of the Iris Award for Best Writing.