At the beginning of life, children are all very similar: weak, dependent, and helpless. But over the years with time and hard work, they transform into strong, independent, and thoughtful adults. People become who they are through three main factors: where they grow up, the people that surround them, and, most importantly, their education.

Education is the foundation to everything in our lives–our world, our relationships and even our own minds. You can tell a lot about a person by their knowledge and skills. Children are certainly different physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. It’s the different combination of these characteristics that makes your children the individual you love.

There’s one thing that’s certain about parenting: it never stops. Once you become a parent, you remain a parent for the rest of your life. We do our best to provide a loving home, healthy food, extracurricular activities, and we involve ourselves in our kids’ learning processes. When it comes to education, we choose the best daycares, schools, teachers, and colleges because we understand this will lead to a better and more independent life. It’s a big responsibility knowing that every single one of these decisions will affect our kids’ future. We create the best possible environments and encourage them positively. The final destination–college–is an aspiration for most families.

Unfortunately, some parents are so focused on the everyday routine that they lose sight of the big picture. The goal of sending their kids to college seems like some far-away event. It ends up being something that’s ignored till next week, month or year. This is wrong. Facebook regularly reminds us of those old posts we made years ago, giving us a jarring reminder of how fast time is moving along. It’s very important to start preparing now and not let this time slip away.

Planning for your child’s education makes you a better parent

While high school graduates are looking forward to starting their college careers and are optimistic about their future, their parents are faced with the looming costs of college education. Historically, college costs have doubled every 10 to 12 years, increasing faster than regular inflation and family income. It has pushed the student debt levels upward, giving college graduates a deep financial hole to dig out of as they start the next chapter of their lives. This is not the future we pictured for our kids. Even though there are options to help them recover, this is not optimal. For many, student debt will leave a messy scar in their lives. The secret is: money prepared today gives your kids a head start in life. Parents with young children have the most time to take advantage of special accounts created specifically for college savings, known as 529 plans. These accounts offer tax-free investment growth so your savings go further. Paying for college takes dedication, so any savings shortcuts should be grabbed with both hands! More and more families are taking advantage of 529 college savings plans because they value education and see a real need to fund it.

Life is uncertain, but we know one thing for sure–we want our kids to be happy and successful. There are so many options in life to choose from, but which is the best one? There is a simple, intuitive, and modern solution for college saving specifically designed for the young generation of parents. Intrigued? (Drum Roll!)

It’s the U-Nest app!

The U-Nest app is a financial mobile app that allows you to open a college fund utilizing the most efficient 529 college saving plan with great investment options to ensure the tax-free growth of your savings account. The key ingredient of U-Nest is the team: experienced financial advisors and parents whose primary motivation is to help out other parents. By combining their professional background, tools, and skills with their desire to help, they created U-Nest.

It takes parents time, energy, and resources to make the right academic choices on behalf of their kids. Getting there is a long and difficult journey, so it’s important for every parent to have a trusted partner. U-Nest is a financial advisor, created for parents to help them prepare for their kids’ future and share the joy in reaching all milestones along the way.

Ksenia Yudina, CFA, MBA

Founder and CEO

Ksenia is the Founder and CEO of U-Nest, the first mobile app that makes it easy for families to save for college. As an entrepreneur and finance professional, Ksenia has focused on alleviating the impact of student debt on families across the economic spectrum. Previously, Ksenia was a Vice President atCapital Group/American Funds, the largest 529 provider in the U.S. In this role, she played a leadership role in helping parents plan and manage their finances, with a focus on the future well-being of their children. Prior to Capital Group/American Funds, she was founder of a residential real estate company. Ksenia earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from CaliforniaState University Northridge, and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Mike Van Kempen

Chief Operating Officer

Mike joined U-Nest in September 2019 as COO. He was previously at Acorns, a financial wellness platform, where he spearheaded the analytics and growth initiatives. Mike successfully expandedAcorns’ paid acquisition strategy, adding over 4.5 million investment accounts. Mike began his career in strategy & analytics at Belly, a Chicago-based loyalty startup in 2012. At Belly, Mike led projects that fueled growth across all aspects of the business, growing the customer base from1,000 to over 11,000 merchants, and accumulating a membership of over 2 million customers.Mike holds a B.B.A. in Finance from Loyola University of Chicago.

Steve Buchanan

Chief Technology Officer

Steve has over 20 years of experience in delivering digital innovations in the financial sector. Steve previously orchestrated product architecture and innovation as a Solutions Architect/ Fintech consultant at Union Bank. Prior to Union Bank, he was Chief Architect and Director of Engineering at Calypso, a Silicon Valley startup, where he architected and built multiple financial solutions. He was also Head of Global Integrations at Globe One in Vietnam where he integrated its Peer-to-Peer lending products into core banking solutions. Steve also built the first ever electronic Equities &Equity Options trading systems for Scottish stock brokers Wood Mackenzie (acquired by CountyNatWest). He is a graduate of Edinburgh University.

Peter Mansfield

Chief Marketing Officer

Peter has built an impressive track record in multiple financial industry segments including payments, credit/prepaid cards and lending. He has played an instrumental role at a succession of financial industry leaders, co-founding companies such as Brand3 (acquired by American Express) and PropertyBridge (acquired by Moneygram), and, as the early stage marketing lead at Marqeta (where he was team member number two), BillFloat and WallabyFinancial (acquired by Bankrate).He has helped fast-growth companies reach an aggregate market value of close to $8 billion. Peter holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Angila, UK.

Sonya Kidman

Client Relationship Manager

Sonya Kidman is a Customer Success professional with a decade of experience in advocating for consumer through user research and genuine empathy. Sonya specializes in user behavior and regularly attends national and global training sessions in wellness and people analytics tools. Sonya is a true global citizen was born in Russia, grew up in Israel, lived and worked in Canada and NewZealand. That global expertise along with an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Tel AvivUniversity have helped to shape a bullet-prof Sonya's framework to develop a winning customer strategy.

Frank Mastrangelo

Board Member

One part banker and one part technologist, Frank spent his early days with the Annenberg Foundation and PNC Bank. His career path led him to Jefferson Bank, where he led the build-out of its electronic banking platforms, and where he would forge a powerful alliance with The Bancorp co-founder Betsy Z. Cohen. As President and COO of The Bancorp from its inception in 1999 Frank played a critical role in helping the organization become an industry bellwether for branchless financial services and a global leader in payments. For this, he has become a widely respected fintech expert, and thought-leader. Frank was recognized in 2013 by Banking Innovation, a leading industry journal, as an “Innovator to Watch.” and as one of the innovators shaping the future of banking. Frank is a graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Disclosure

College Savings Calculator is a hypothetical tool that demonstrates how monthly contributions, age-based asset rebalancing, and tax savings may impact the long-term value of your account, and do not take into account a portfolio’s underlying investment management fees. Calculations assume the private institution cost inflation is 2.8%, public out of state cost inflation is 3.9%, public in state cost inflation is 2.7%. Portfolio is assumed to have only stocks and bonds. Monthly equity returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the stock market (SPY). Monthly fixed income returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the bond market index (AGG). The current college expenses are provided by the collegeboard.org. Actual account performance may differ due to market fluctuations, changes in recurring investments, and asset allocation. The information provided here is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent actual or future performance of any investment option and is not intended to predict or project the investment performance of any security or index.