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Updated: May 5

Best investment accounts for your kids and teens

Imagine your child, tween, or teen having a strong financial future because of the choices you made on their behalf today? Did you know that you can start investing for your child today using what you have? You don't have to have thousands to start. You can start with $5, $25, $100, $1000... whatever amount you choose!

Are you confused on what accounts to open or how to begin investing for your child or teen? Take a look at some of the best investment accounts for kids below:

529 Plans

529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings plans that allow you to contribute money towards your child's educational expenses (tuition, room, & board) which can be used at traditional institutions, trade schools, and some secondary education schools. You might be thinking, what happens if my child doesn't go to college or a trade school? The good news is that you remain the owner on the account and can transfer funds to another beneficiary (family member) if your child ends up no longer needing the funds.

Pros: Can be used towards eligible educational expenses and reported as the parent's asset, not the child's. Some states even offer grant matching (similar to a 401k match but for education).

Cons: Since the assets are counted as the parent's, it has a lower impact than UGMA/UTMA accounts. However, having a 529 plan still reduces a student's FAFSA aid eligibility up to 5.4%.

Bonus: Did you know that if your child no longer needs the funds when it's time for them to attend college, you can rollover unused 529 funds into their custodial Roth IRA without penalty? Read more about this here.

Below are a list of 529 accounts for your child by state:


UGMA (Uniform Gift To Minors Act) and UTMA (Uniform Transfers To Minors Act) are two types of custodial brokerage accounts that you can open on the behalf of your child. UGMA/UTMAs are held in the name of the custodian (parent or guardian) and are transferred to the child at the age of majority (18 or 21 depending on your state). Once your child reaches the age of majority, they have full control of the assets and can spend the funds however they please.

Pros: 1) Flexible spending and 2) contributions (not earnings) can be withdrawn at any time without penalty.

Cons: Because contributions are made with after-tax dollars, UGMA/UTMAs do not have the same tax benefits that 529 plans offer. The assets are also counted as the child's and can reduce their FAFSA aid eligibility up to 20%.

Custodial Roth IRA

Give your child a head start and help them begin putting money aside for their retirement by opening a custodial Roth Individual Retirement Account. However, your child must have verifiable earned income. You can open an account on behalf of your child at most major brokerages and retirement companies. We shared more about this here.

Pros: Does not reduce FAFSA aid eligibility unless funds are withdrawn (which would affect FAFSA eligibility the following year).

Cons: The child must have verifiable earned income to open an account.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Investment Account

Selecting the right investment account for your child involves careful consideration of several key factors:

a. Your Child's Age: The age of your child can significantly impact your choice of investment account. For younger children, custodial accounts may be suitable, while older kids can benefit from Roth IRAs.

b. Investment Goals: Consider your long-term goals for the account. Are you primarily saving for education, retirement, or a combination of both? If saving for education is your goal, you may want to consider a 529 plan. If putting money aside for your child's retirement, you might want to consider opening a custodial Roth IRA. Always start with the end in mind!

c. Risk Tolerance: Understand your child's and your own risk tolerance. Younger children may have a longer investment horizon, allowing for more aggressive investment strategies.

d. Tax Considerations: Examine the tax benefits and implications associated with each account type.

e. Contribution Limits: Be aware of the contribution limits for each account, as they can vary significantly and update annually.

f. Investment Options: Consider the investment choices available within each account type, ensuring they align with your financial goals.

Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Kids' Investment Accounts

To make the most of your chosen investment account for your child, follow these tips:

a. Start Early: The power of compounding works best when you start early. The longer your investments have to grow, the greater the potential for significant returns.

b. Diversify Your Portfolio: Diversification can help spread risk and potentially increase returns. Consider a mix of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, within your chosen account.

c. Regular Contributions: Consistent contributions, even if they are relatively small, can make a big difference over time.

d. Teach Financial Literacy: Use this opportunity to educate your child about investing, saving, and the importance of financial planning.

e. Review and Adjust: Periodically review you and your child's investments and make necessary adjustments based on your child's age, financial goals, and market conditions.

Thankfully, by opening any of the above accounts and following the above tips can set your child on the right track. So, let's give our children the future that they deserve!

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Investing for kids and teens
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