If you are a parent, you probably would like your child to attend university after high school. Unfortunately, university is extremely expensive and this often places a huge strain on your family’s finances. The #FeesMustFall campaign has provided relief in certain instances but it is not a universal panacea, as not all families qualify for free tertiary education or financial support.
A prudent way around this problem is to save every month using a suitable investment. The sooner you start, the better. As with any other investment, the longer it stays in the market, the better your investment will perform over time due to the miracle of compound interest. By starting earlier, you also have the opportunity to invest in riskier assets which should provide you with even greater returns over time. The sooner you start investing, the less you will need to save on a monthly basis in order to achieve your goal.
You should begin by calculating approximately how much you will need to save in order to cover as much of the cost of your child’s education as possible. The average tuition fee for an undergraduate degree at Rhodes University is currently R45,000 per academic year. If you were to add residence fees, the total cost increases to around R 100,000, before adding all other variable expenses. Using a financial calculator or with the assistance of a Certified Financial Planner, you will be able to calculate the total requirement and what you will need to save on a monthly basis to achieve your goal.
Once you have calculated how much you are going to need, you then should to determine how much you can realistically afford to save every month without placing undue strain on your disposable income. The next step would be to identify how and where to invest your money. The only thing worse than not saving at all is to invest in such a way that your returns hardly keep pace with inflation; for example by investing in a low risk bank savings account. The advantage of starting to invest early is that you will be able to include a higher proportion of growth assets such as equities in your investment portfolio. Returns from equities have almost always exceeded all other investment types over periods of 10 years or more.
If you start early, know your investment vehicle options, develop a plan and invest wisely and regularly, it may be possible to cover all or a significant portion of your child’s university education costs. Do not allow yourself to be lured into investing in a plan that promises returns that are out of this world. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! An experienced Certified Financial Planner will be able to guide you through the process and assist you to achieve the right mix of investments in order to achieve your goal.
Rands and Sense is a monthly column, written by
Ross Marriner, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® with PSG Wealth.
His Financial Planning Office number is 046 622 2891