According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition at an in-state public university is approximately $15,000. And that's just for one year! Like most families in this difficult economy, ours is on a limited budget. But that doesn't mean we have to forego on the important things like saving for my daughter's college education — and shopping! With BabyMint, we get the best of both worlds. We earn money for college just by shopping at all of our favorite stores. Curious about how it works? Read on!

What is BabyMint?

BabyMint is a shopping rebate site where a percentage of what you buy at participating retailers goes directly toward your child's (or even your own!) college education. You can choose exactly where your rebates go – whether you want to send it to a savings account or pay on a current student loan. You can even have your rebates sent to you via check!

How to sign up

To sign up for BabyMint, head on over to their page and complete their online membership application form. It's completely free to sign up. After you submit your application, you will get a username and password. Once you sign in, you can immediately begin shopping and earning rewards!

How to use BabyMint

BabyMint is super easy to use! Just click on the "Shop & Earn" tab and select one of the participating merchants. Online retailers (where you can earn up to 26 percent in rebates on each purchase) include Overstock.com, the Container Store, and Best Buy — just to name a few! In addition, you can buy gift certificates (worth up to 5 percent rebate on each gift certificate purchase) for places like Boston Market, Foot Locker, and Old Navy. Just be sure to log in to your BabyMint account before you make your purchase – that's how BabyMint tracks your transaction. It's that simple! You can also have your friends, your child's grandparents, and other members of the family sign up for BabyMint and transfer their earnings into your child's college savings account!

You can also shop in-store at places like Eddie Bauer, Claim Jumper, and Dale and Thomas Popcorn — but you must pay with a BabyMint College Savings Credit Card. (You can apply for one after you log in to your account on the Member Home Page. My husband won't let me apply — he knows I tend to go a little crazy when I have plastic money!) In all, there are more than 500 partner stores!

Rewards

So how do the purchase rebates work? Each time you make a purchase, between one and 26 percent of your total purchase is stored as points called BabyMint Bucks. At the end of every month, when your balance hits the minimum of 25 BabyMint Bucks, BabyMint will transfer those bucks into U.S. dollars. Every buck equals $1. Your earnings will then be automatically transferred into your child's educational investment account (almost any Coverdell Educational Savings Account or 529 Plan). Or you can choose to have the rebate sent to you directly via check so you can deposit it into your child's savings account. Saving for college has never been easier!