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College Account or Retirement Account Which Money To Spend?

It can be very frustrating at times to decide which money to use for paying your kid’s college bills. Some use their retirement accounts which get favorable tax treatment, while others use their specific college account funds.

Author: Steve Purselle
Date: Jun 27, 2011 - 6:08:52 PM


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It can be very hard at times to figure out which money to use for paying your student's college bills. Some use their retirement balances which get favorable tax treatment, while other people use their special college account funds.

My son had a little money saved up and it was gone within 7 months. Once away from home he didn't have much fiscal responsibility. Also, as a freshman in college he didn’t care which money he used, his or mine. Also the new found freedom were very overwhelming, so he then had to go to summer school in order to become a sophomore due to his F’s in the first semester.

So I got a message about four weeks to go in the summer session and someone needed $7,000 just for his stay at summer school. Should I pay it? Should I have him come home and work for the year to pay it off? It was his own choices that put him in this mess in the first place. Which money should be spent to get him out of this mess, mine or his?

To really create more problems, I’ve been out of work for three years during this never ending Great Recession. My state also just raised the income tax so that has created even fewer jobs. Which money was the state trying to improve, mine or the theirs? The state is practically broke and I’m not too far behind them.

Which money should be tapped for this summer school extra fee because my son was extremely careless? He finally got a part time job. He has repeatedly told me that he is looking for another job. He keeps telling me he’ll take care of it, so why is there a need for the cash?

Now here’s a boy that is over $40,000 in the hole for college over the last 11 months. He now needs more unexpected cash and which money should pay it? I have only a few months left of savings before I can't pay my bills, so I think he’ll just have to figure out a way to pay it for himself. Jobs are hard to find for everyone, but easier for entry level and there are other incentives that he could take advantage of if he asks enough people.

Which money do you think should pay for this problem? I have headhunters trying to place me, I have thousands (truly thousands) of resumes out through Career Builder and Monster, I have feelers out all over the place and only get one interview in five months.

Let me know what you think, which money should pay for my son’s problems. Be open because we are really at our wit’s end right now.


Steve Purselle is an independent freelance writer specializing in money, but like everyone else has hit hard times during the Great Recession. The government doesn’t seem to have a plan for people like him. Steve's College Toolbar is helping a little but it is not enough. Comment to this article with your ideas.



View all articles by Steve Purselle

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