My favorite thing I read today was this post on the Billfold about how the author had a big windfall and put $5,000, the maximum she could deduct from her taxes, into a college savings account for her future child. Who may or may not ever exist. Or maybe for herself to use for grad school. Or maybe to give her future niece or nephew. (You can even just withdraw it for general use, for a 10% penalty.)
And it's tax-free!
I didn't know anything about college funds before reading this post, really, besides that I didn't have one, and my best friend did. But hers was through the State of Michigan, and so, although it was great for her to go to school with all the tuition covered, it limited her options quite a bit. With a 529, you can use it anywhere!
After reading the Billfold for over a year (is it almost two years? I don't know!) it was surprising to think this was something I hadn't already heard much about. They covered Roth and traditional IRAs, plenty of times. (It's one of my New Year's resolutions for 2013 to open my Roth IRA, and I finally have enough money to do so, depending on the bank!) Of course, you're supposed to make sure you can plausibly retire before putting all your money into a college fund, because (government) students loans (awful as they are) aren't as bad as just being broke and unemployed and old.
Bleh. Anyway, everyone should read the Billfold if they like reading about how people live and very low-key explanations of money matters, and having an open and useful attitude about said matters!