How to save for an education fit for a prince

By Andre Wentzel Time of article published May 27, 2019

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RANDS AND SENSE: The latest royal baby’s arrival has the world aflutter. While the royals may be a special case, the birth of any baby brings about big questions - especially around education.

Did you know that the typical university degree in South Africa currently costs about R50000 a year. and by the time the royal baby turns 18 this would have ballooned to the princely sum of about R1million for a four-year degree? Suffice to say, the funds involved can be overwhelming, especially to new parents who are probably sleep deprived, emotional and deeply immersed in other fundamental questions like who to name as guardian, how to update a will, change medical aid and life and disability cover.

It’s all about breaking big goals into smaller goals that seem far more achievable. If I told you that you’ll need R1m in total to provide for your child’s tertiary fees, you’ll need a restorative cup of tea, as the queen might say. If I told you you’ll need R1200 a month, suddenly this seems much more doable.

So what are the steps?

Deep breath, have another restorative cuppa, keep calm and be savvy in plotting ways to save. The first step is to have a ballpark figure of how much you need to save as part of an overall goal to give your little one the best possible education - plus, picking the right savings vehicle. Step two is to break this down into smaller, manageable, monthly savings goals, with the help of a financial adviser. Step three is to map out a plan to be able to contribute to this each month.

If your little one hasn’t been born yet, or if you’re having a baby shower post-birth, then why not ask your loved ones to gift monetary contributions to your child’s education fund?

Ask for gifts that help you to manage expenses

Another big cost curve ball is childcare. Many will argue that childcare in South Africa is often less expensive than in other parts of the world. However, it does still add up and one of the best gifts your friends can give you is their time. Babysitting “vouchers” - where friends offer to look after your little one so you can have a well-earned break - are invaluable, and they’ll help you save money on childcare that can go towards your education fund.

Another top tip is to drop some major hints for friends and family to give you food delivery vouchers. New parents need takeaways. It’s just one of those little talked about, but well-established facts. Sooner or later the freezer lasagnes generously given by all your aunties run out, and then you turn to Mr D on speed dial! You’re over-tired and overwhelmed; it’s completely understandable. But, it’s also expensive. So, ask for coupons or vouchers so you can curb these costs.

Remember to increase contributions when you can

Again, the money you save can go towards education. Even increasing education fund contributions by a small amount, such as R150 a month, makes a big difference. If you contribute an extra R150 for the 18 years, this would accumulate to more than R100000, which will come in handy for textbooks, stationery and all those other extra costs people don’t always take into account.

It’s also important to recognise that inflation means costs go up - and your savings contributions have to increase accordingly. And, for nine out of the last 10 years, tertiary education costs have increased by more than general inflation. So, it’s very easy to go off-track. That’s where a financial adviser who is able to help you review and make little adjustments is worth their weight in gold.

Andre Wentzel is the solutions manager at Sanlam Personal Finance.


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