How often do we ask ourselves why life can’t be easier? Modern life looks like a chaotic, frenzied spiral, where we constantly trying to balance the demands of raising children, achieving success, and earning money. It’s tiring. Raising children is hard, we have to worry about our kids education & saving money for a better future.

Like most parents, I believe that a great college education will bring my two children the best chance for a better, more prosperous future. But the eye-popping cost of college and mounting student debt have created real concerns about how to answer the ultimate question: how can we afford to send our kids to college?

When I started to research how to begin saving money to reduce future borrowing for my two kids, I found a vast variety of options. Like most people, I’ve never worked in finance, so I was quickly overwhelmed by what I was reading. Financial jargon seemed like an entirely different language. There were long and confusing agreements, endless applications, tax-related terms, and a variety of different accounts to choose from. I felt like SpongeBob (yes, I watch a lot of cartoons with my kids), in the episode where he’s running through the perfume section of the department store, trying to dodge random sprays, and eventually starts to suffocate. The time that I spent in front of the computer screen, raised more questions than answers and made me want to throw my computer out of the nearest window.

Saving for Children Made Simple

Even after a good night’s sleep, I woke up with nagging thoughts in my mind like a hamster running on a squeaky wheel in the background. I had to find the way to send my precious little geniuses to get a good education. There was no way I could fail at this task.  My “obsession” brought me back at my laptop, a hundred open browser tabs waited for me. New day, fresh ideas, right? I decided on my next move: read family and personal blogs to learn from people who’d figured it out already.

My Findings…

Some options I encountered on those blogs: send my kids to a different country where education is cheaper, start a career in modeling, rely on scholarships, withdraw from my 401K, use life insurance money, open savings/brokerage accounts, take out student loans, and apply for expensive parent loans.

Five cups of coffee later, trying to process all of these options and considering whether to hide my money in the back of the sock drawer or sell my kidney, I noticed some quality responses about the 529 college savings plan. Just as SpongeBob and his friend Patrick found their way out of the suffocating perfume store, I found mine. Sweet relief! I could breathe again!

The more I read about the 529 plan, the more sense it made to me. Since it’s tax-advantaged, that means my account will grow faster than other investment accounts. Also, the money in my 529 account compounds over time and my favorite benefit is that family and friends can also contribute. It’s like a gift that truly keeps on giving.

Finally, I had figured out how a 529 plan works. But then came the real question: how to get started? It turns out there is a simple and modern way to begin saving with a 529 plan and enjoy the process — the U-Nest app.

How U-Nest Helps With Saving?

U-Nest is a mobile app platform, run by professional financial advisors that makes it extremely simple to start a 529 plan and help it grow. There is no complex process to open an account, no need to fill out a 15-page long application (I know!), no need to sift through thousands of investment options. Sign-up only takes 5 minutes. Just link it to your bank account to contribute money (as little as $25) every month.

There are plenty of free resources out there, and you could figure out all of it for yourself, but if you’re serious about saving for your children’s future, use this shortcut to take control of your savings and allow it to provide you peace of mind. U-Nest is a simple way to get you started. You can Download U-Nest here.

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.


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 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.