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What’s the best way to save money for your child’s future?
Wouldn’t it be a great gift to help pay for your child’s tuition, wedding, first home, or help them start a family?
The best way you can save for your child’s future is to start…
But you might have a million other questions. Like…
- How much money should you save?
- Where is the best place to keep the money?
- Is it safe to create an investment account to earn MORE money than a savings account?
- What if I don’t know anything about investing?
- If I invest money in a 529 college savings account, what if my kid doesn’t go to college?
So many questions…
In this article, I’m hoping to give you answers and help you make the best decision to save money for your child’s future.
I’m sharing a review of a really great option that offers flexibility, simple options, it’s easy to use, and you can access everything from your smartphone.
The company is UNest and they help you set up a UTMA account to save for your child’s future.
Not sure what UNest is or a UTMA account?
Let’s find out.
What is UNest?
In really simple terms, UNest is a tax advantaged investment account for kids so you can save money for their future.
It makes saving for your child’s future really, really simple.
Everything is done through the UNest app, and you can track the growth and status of the UTMA account from the comfort of your couch without needing to call an investment manager.
The money in the investment account is flexible and can be used in any way to benefit your child.
That includes but is definitely not limited to:
- Buying a house
- Private high school
- Extra curriculars
Your money is invested and saved in a UTMA (Uniform Transfers to Minor Account) account to collect and grow for your child to use at any point in the future.
The only requirement for withdrawing money from the UTMA is that it needs to be used to benefit your child.
And with the UNest app, you can track, manage, and contribute every aspect of your child’s UTMA account right from the comfort of your phone.
What is a UTMA Savings Account?
A UTMA is a custodial investment account a parent/guardian can create for their children and invest money until your child is no longer a minor.
The custodial account holds and protects the child’s assets until they are old enough to access the accounts themselves.
As the custodian of the account, you are in control of investing money monthly and withdrawing money for anything that benefits your child.
The money can be invested in:
- Mutual funds
The big benefit with a UTMA is that your child’s money will earn so much more money than a traditional savings account.
My savings account at Wells Fargo earns a whopping .01% of interest monthly. So basically nothing.
With UNest, your monthly contributions grow much faster, giving your child thousands more dollars to use in the future for all of their financial goals.
And UNest offers a savings calculator built into the app to help you figure out how much to contribute each month to reach your savings goals for your child.
Why is UNest’s UTMA Savings Account a Good Option to Save Money for my Child?
Alright, like I mentioned, there are tons of ways to save money for your child’s future, but not all are created equal.
One of the best features about UNest and a UTMA savings account boils down to one word.
Your child’s future is so bright and filled with so many opportunities.
I’m sure if you spent 5 minutes dreaming of the future, you could imagine a dozen different possibilities for your kid’s life.
- finding good friends
- excelling in extracurriculars
- getting good grades
- going to college
- starting a business
- buying a house
- getting married
- having kids
So when you save money for your child’s future, what are you ACTUALLY saving it for?
It’s impossible to predict what your kids are going to do when they grow up, much less, what is the best way for them to spend their money when they’re an adult.
A UTMA allows your child to spend their invested savings on anything that benefits them. UTMA funds can help pay for college, buying a house, their wedding, buying a car, having kids, or any major life event or milestone.
And while they’re still a minor, you are the custodian of their account and can withdraw money for ANY expenses that directly benefit your kid.
Unlike a 529 savings plan, the money can be used for more than college.
Major Benefits of UNest
Ease of Use
Money can be complicated.
But the UNest app is actually really simple to use. Here’s why.
UNest is an app you can download on your smartphone. There are literally 4 steps to sign up and start contributing to your child’s future savings goals.
I’ll explain these in a bit more detail in a minute, but here are the nuts and bolts.
1. Download the UNest app on your iPhone or Android.
2. Create your account
3. Link your bank account to transfer money easily
4. Choose an investing plan from 5 options and start investing
The handy thing about UNest is that you bring your phone everywhere so you always have access to your UTMA savings account. You can track and manage everything right from the app.
Gifting Links Allow Friends and Family to Contribute to Your Child’s UTMA
Possibly the best feature of UNest is the ability to invite friends and family into the saving journey and help shape your child’s future.
We all know how much our family love to spoil and dote on our kids. But wouldn’t it be nice to grow their savings account instead of the number of toys that don’t get played with?
When our daughter was born a few years ago, we set up a 529 plan with CollegeBacker. CollegeBacker has a lot of similar features as UNest, but is designed specifically for educational expenses.
We thought this was the best option for us at the time, and I hadn’t heard of UTMAs or UNest at the time.
CollegeBacker also has a gifting link, and it’s been really easy to share that with family members at birthday and Christmas time.
The gift link is a simple way to grow her college fund.
When your family knows how they can contribute to your child’s future, and help them save money for the big moments in life, they might see more value in that than the latest Disney movie toy.
The only catch is that the minimum gift amount is $25 and there’s a processing fee on gifts. It’s 3.5% + $0.99. The person giving the gift is responsible for this small fee.
Tax Advantages of UNest
I’ll be honest, I’m no expert at taxes. There are so many complexities, and it’s not something I study a lot.
BUT…I did my research on UNest and UTMA savings accounts. The information I’m sharing is from UNest’s FAQ page. If you want more details or are still a bit confused about the tax advantages of UTMAs, go read more there.
When you invest money into your child’s UTMA account, it will earn income. The amount of unearned income has a direct impact on how it’s taxed. Here’s a breakdown:
- First $1,100 of unearned income is tax free
- The next $1,100 is taxed at the child tax rate or Kiddie Tax
- Anything above $2,200 of unearned income is taxed at the parent’s tax rate
These tax advantages are only for income earned on the initial contributions, not the contributions themselves.
Another thing to note as you do your taxes, the contributions you make to your child’s UTMA account are NOT tax deductible because you contributed with after tax dollars.
Below is a screenshot from UNest’s FAQ page.
This is different from a 529 savings account, which grows completely tax free.
If you have more questions about tax and UTMA contributions, head over to the UNest FAQ page and contact a professional tax expert.
Getting Started with UNest
The process is pretty simple, and you can get started faster than watching an episode of Schitt’s Creek.
Plus, UNest is a smartphone app that is simple to use and track the progress of your invested money from your couch.
UNest lists 4 steps on their website. Set up your account in as little as 10 minutes.
Step 1: Download the UNest App
First, head to the app store and download UNest. You can also go directly to the UNest website, which has a link to the app store.
Step 2: Create Your UNest Account
After you install the UNest app, you begin creating your account. Because it’s an investment account, there is a little bit of a longer process to fill out information about you and your child, and it requires an electronic signature to complete the registration.
Once you have your account created, the last step is to link your bank account and set up your monthly contribution plan.
Step 3: Choose Your Investment Option
UNest lets you choose from 5 options ranging from low risk to high risk.
The low risk option invests your money more conservatively. That means there is less risk of losing money in the investment, but it also means your investment earnings will be lower.
On the flip side, if you choose a higher risk option, you have a higher earning potential because UNest invests your money more aggressively. Yes, it does create a higher risk of losing money in a downturn of the market, but remember, this is a longer term investment and the market is pretty good at correcting itself and bouncing back.
There’s also an age based investment option which allows you to invest according to how old your child is and how much you want to save for them by the time they become an adult.
As with any investments you make – for college, or even retirement – the sooner you start, the more it’ll grow by the time you need it.
If you’re unsure of what to do, you can always start with a lower risk option, and adjust as you go.
Step 4: Link Your Bank Account and Start Contributing
The last step is to link your bank account so you can set up automatic contributions every month.
One of my favorite ways to budget and manage our money is automatic transfers. You set it up once, and then just check on the progress.
That’s the beauty of UNest!
And when you’re ready to withdraw money, it gets deposited directly into your linked account.
If you’ve done any mobile banking, use Venmo, cash apps, or Zelle, they all rely on connecting to your bank account. It’s simple and straightforward.
One important thing to remember is the minimum monthly contribution is $25. You can adjust your contribution at any point, but the lowest you can go is $25.
Important Details About UNest
Okay, I’m throwing a lot of information your way about UNest.
I want to take a minute to summarize the main takeaways so far, and add a few details that are better mentioned in bullet points.
- UNest is an app that helps families save for their child’s future with a UTMA
- a UTMA is a custodial investment account created and managed by parents to save for their child’s future
- Parents choose from 5 risk levels and investment options within the app
- UMTA accounts are for anything that benefits the child, not just education
- Bank level security
- Gifting link allows friends and families to contribute easily
- Minimum monthly contribution is $25, and a $3 monthly fee
- Unearned income is tax free up to $1,100
- Subject to Kiddie Tax for unearned income exceeding $1,100 on the contributions
- When unearned income exceeds $2,200, earnings are taxed at the parent’s tax rate
- Offers more flexibility than a 529 savings plan
UNest or CollegeBacker?
In talking about the UNest app, I’ve mentioned CollegeBacker a few times and want to do a quick comparison of the companies and how each can help your child’s future.
I’m a huge fan of both of these companies for ONE huge reason.
UNest and CollegeBacker help families save money for their children. Money you save for your kids now can be a game changer when they’re an adult!
I totally wish my parents saved more for my college! Maybe I wouldn’t have had to figure out how to pay off $100,000 of debt.
The big difference between UNest and CollegeBacker comes down to your goals in saving money.
Here are a few things that both UNest and CollegeBacker do:
- Save money for your child’s future
- Invest your money so it actually earns more than your initial contributions of a savings account
- Have easy to use apps
- Gifting links so friends and family can contribute money
- Set up recurring monthly contributions
So really, it’s hard to go wrong with either company. You’ll invest money into your children so they can use it for their amazing, wonderful futures. The investments will earn money, and the entire process is pretty dang easy and accessible for anyone to use.
CollegeBacker is for Education Expenses Only
Here’s a quick 5 second explanation of CollegeBacker.
CollegeBacker helps families save money for college with tax-free investing to maximize college savings.
If your goal is to save and invest money for your kids to go to college, a 529 savings plan with CollegeBacker is an EXCELLENT option.
CollegeBacker helps families save money for education expenses. That’s it. That means a university, trade school, community college, even private school as your kids grow up.
It leaves you wondering…
That’s a great question, and the bad news is there are pretty hefty penalties and taxes to withdraw money from a 529 savings plan for non-educational expenses. Our plan is to be really honest and transparent with our daughter about how we’re saving money and her options for using it.
In the end, we’re saving the money for her and will respect what she chooses to do with it.
For a full review of CollegeBacker and their 529 savings plan, click here.
Let’s see if UNest is a better fit for your family and your goals.
UNest Offers WAY More Flexibility with a UTMA Savings Account
I keep coming back to the flexibility and options for money invested with a UTMA account.
But it’s important.
If you want to provide extra freedom and flexibility for your child to use the money you save for them, UNest is probably your best option.
They can still use it for college if they want, but can also use it to meet any other milestones and financial goals they have when they become an adult.
Or a little bit of everything – wedding, college, buying a house!
It’s completely up to them!
There’s a lot of power in options, and your future adult children might really appreciate the options you give them with UNest.
When Can My Child Get Money from a UTMA?
Okay, that sounded very teacherish.
A UTMA is a custodial account, which means the parent/guardian is in charge of the account until their child becomes an adult, also known as the age of majority.
And the age of majority is different depending on what state you live in, and some states have a DIFFERENT age requirement for the UTMA age of majority.
I live in Minnesota where the age of majority is 18, but to withdraw money from a UTMA, the age of majority is 21.
It’s important to know the age of majority for your state, even if it’s just so your future adult child doesn’t complain that they can’t get their own money.
Once your child becomes the owner of their UTMA account, you transfer ownership to them and they can withdraw money when they need it and keep investing.
Are There Any Fees?
I already mentioned the fees paid when people contribute through the giving link, but there’s also a $3 monthly fee or .25% on accounts greater than $50,000.
And if you have more than one kid, you can create one for each. If that’s your situation, you can sign up for the family plan of $6 a month for up to 5 kids.
Also, as I mentioned in the bullet points, there is a minimum monthly contribution of $25. When you set up your account in the app, you can choose how much you want to contribute to the UTMA each month.
The app sets up a monthly billing schedule and you can pretty much set it and forget it. If you ever want to make changes to how much you contribute, just open the app and make the changes from the comfort of your couch.
Is UNest App FDIC Insured?
All UNest tax advantaged investment accounts are protected up to $500,000 with UNest’s broker dealer Apex-Clearing Corporation, member SIPC. Apex-Clearing Corporation is registered with the SEC and holds all invested money for your child’s UTMA account.
But remember, a UTMA is an INVESTMENT account so it’s still subject to the ups and downs of the market. The key takeaway here is that if your money is taken illegally, it’s insured just like your bank accounts.
Is UNest Right for Me? Is a UTMA Account a Good Fit for my Child’s Future?
Honestly, only you can answer this question.
UNest provides a safe, easy way to save money for your child’s future with the flexibility to cover a wide variety of expenses and life milestones.
Wouldn’t it be a great gift to help pay for your child’s tuition, wedding, first home, or help them start a family?
There’s no perfect way to save for the future, but UNest is better than a lot of options out there, and it’s cheap and simple to get started.
Remember, it’s better to start now than to wait another few years trying to find the perfect savings plan.
And at minimum, it’s $28 a month to cover the monthly fee and minimum contribution. That’s probably less than you pay for cable or your streaming services.
Are You Ready to Start Saving Money for Your Child’s Future with UNest?
I don’t have too much more to say about UNest and the UNest app. It’s a pretty awesome company with a mission that’s solid gold.
It has the ability to truly transform your child’s future and give them options and flexibility as an adult.
Plus, it can help pay for helpful expenses and opportunities as they grow up.
At this point one of two things will happen:
1. You decide that UNest isn’t right for you and you find a different plan to save money for your child’s future. Maybe a 529 with CollegeBacker, your regular savings account, or you keep putting it off.
2. You take the chance on UNest and set up your custodian account and start investing money today! Your savings plan takes effect and your child has thousands of dollars to use for their future life goals.
Why not take a chance on UNest and feel confident that your child will have more opportunities and a big advantage reaching their goals and dreams in life.