Show Me the (Free) Money #WMWeek17 @ctwbdc

If you’re like me, I’m sure growing up you heard the saying “money doesn’t grow on trees”.  Or perhaps you are that parent who is bestowing these wise words onto your children in an effort to teach them that money is earned, and not something that is easily acquired by birth right, luck or happenstance.

Though I have not discovered a tree that grows money either, I have uncovered some great producers of “free money”.  I am going to share one of these resources with you and explain how it can produce money with very little effort or investment on your part.  Are you ready to hear more?  Read on…

Over the summer, and as luck would have it on Labor Day, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world.  While enjoying our little bundle of joy in the hospital, we were of course given a myriad of paperwork to cull through and fill out per the hospital’s direction.  As I was going through the paperwork, I came across information on Connecticut’s CHET Baby Scholars Program.  What’s this I wondered?

Basically, the CHET Baby Scholars Program is a state-specific program that encourages parents of newborns and newly-adopted children to open a 529 college savings account for their child(ren) with an opportunity to receive a contribution from the State of Connecticut into the account (free money).

According to their website: The CHET Baby Scholars program provides up to $250 toward a newborn’s future college costs. Babies born in Connecticut, who are less than a year old, and adopted children, not later than the first anniversary of the adoption, are eligible for a CHET Baby Scholars grant in the amount of $100. The grant is given as a contribution into the child’s CHET account. Then, if an additional $150 is saved in the account by the time the child is four (or in the case of an adoption, by the fourth anniversary of the adoption), the account may be eligible for a second grant of $150.

Once I was home from the hospital and settled, I set time aside to research this program further.  I called and spoke to a customer service representative at length and was provided with information about the program, and they also took the time to walk me through and get the account opened and funded.  Wanting to take advantage to the fullest extent of this unique offering for my child, I opened the account with $150.  Since I funded this account with this higher amount described above, my child’s account will be credited with $250 from the State of Connecticut upon the close of the quarter.  Simply stated, even though I only opened this account with $150, by next quarter the State will deposit an additional $250 into this account!

It is important to note that no investment is guaranteed to make money and there is always a chance you could lose money.  I would encourage anyone looking to invest any amount of money to seek the counsel of a certified financial advisor, and one that you respect and trust.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “But I don’t have $150 to open this account right now”.  I would challenge you to get creative!  Money does not grow on trees, but it can be found if you go digging for it.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.  Take up a collection.  Ask for monetary gifts from family members in lieu of toys and clothes for your child during their first year.  Cut back on dining out for a few months.  When feeling impulsive while out shopping, ask yourself how you will feel about the item(s) in 5 minutes? In 5 days?  In 5 months?  If you can go without some extraneous spending, you may surprise yourself with how quickly you can find $150.

Give you child(ren) a jumpstart on college saving by opening an account today! If you don’t happen to live in Connecticut, I would encourage you to start researching special programs in your area.  If you know of a specific program in your state, let’s get the conversation started and comment below.  Let’s help each other find where the money trees are growing!

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Written by  

Jennifer Hrbek is a Certified Financial Social Worker and the Director of Programs and Services at the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC), a non-profit organization that supports economic prosperity for women and strengthens communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services that create and grow sustainable jobs and businesses across Connecticut.  Jennifer is passionate about empowering women to become knowledgeable and confident in handling their personal finances.  Visit WBDC at, follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram @ctwbdc.