The early bird catches an education

As a parent, you want to give your child the best start in life, and education is one of the most important financial decisions a parent must consider. One of the ways in which to get a head start is to start making financial decisions before your baby is born.

Eunice Sibiya, Head of Consumer Education at FNB says, “It used to be that everyone worried about the cost of university, but nowadays you have to consider the costs of your child’s pre, primary and high school education. The reality is that you need to make decisions around your child’s schooling career as soon as possible, while you’re still pregnant. Once you’ve decided on the type of education you want your child to receive and where your child will be attending school, there are a number of financial plans and considerations to put into place.”

Firstly, you need to add this expense to your budget as soon as you possibly can, so that you can add a meaningful contribution toward your child’s education. It might be tough in the beginning to stretch your budget, but this will allow for adequate savings in the future.

“Depending on the child’s age, consider opening a savings account, or approach your bank or financial institution to ask about savings or investment plans specifically geared towards saving for an education. Many people do this for university tuition, but these savings plans can be for any level of your child’s education,” says Sibiya.

There are also a few things you can do while your child is at school to soften the blow to your pocket.

If you’re sending your child to pre-school or crèche, find out if your employer offers this facility on the premises. There are usually staff discounts and you won’t have to change your driving routine. You’ll also be close to your child during the day.

Throughout your child’s schooling career, find out what other expenses you’ll have to take care of besides tuition. You might need to buy sports gear or equipment. Extra-curricular activities might not be included in the tuition fee and will be an extra cost.

“Find out if your child’s school offers any sort of discount for early payment. It’s a good idea to use your bonus to pay for your child’s annual tuition, as you might get a discount if you do this,” says Sibiya.

She adds that, during enrolment, if you have two or more children at the same school, it might be worth asking if there are discounts for the second and third child. There might also be school or university bursaries on offer that could be relevant and slash costs.

Sibiya says another good tip is to consider buying your child’s school uniform from friends or school leavers  to save money, or buy blazers, dresses a size  bigger. Your child will grow into them and you won’t have to buy a new uniform every year.

“It’s very competitive out there and the rising cost of education means that you have to start planning as soon as possible so that you can lessen the effect it has on your finances in the future. The sooner parents start putting money aside, the longer their money can work for them,” concludes Sibiya.

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