TymeBank’s Head of Marketing Linda Appie shares her personal journey of how she, as a single mother, managed the financial requirements of providing a good education for her son, Sammy.
My main focus for the next four years is being able to put my 18-year-old son through higher education. He completed matric last year.
But my concerns around making this happen are the rising costs – due to inflation and the costs of higher education – and job security, because in the current poor economic environment many companies are downscaling or retrenching to keep their doors open.
Getting to here
I started thinking about my son’s educational needs immediately once I knew I was expecting him. I received a lot of advice from friends and family who had already been through the relevant educational milestones with their own children. I also did a lot of research about the best school in my area and the relevant costs ahead of time – at least two years before Sammy was due to start school. I did the same when it was time to move to high school.
Planning ahead, creating a savings plan for the fees and applying early made all the difference.
To cover the costs of primary and high school I paid for the school fees using a combination of mainly savings but also adding them to my monthly expenses. For crèche, for instance, his fees were part of my monthly expenses, but for the primary and high school years I was part of a stokvel group and this allowed me to use savings mainly. The stokvel helped me to save money during the year and then I used my pay-out to settle the annual school fees at the beginning of the year. I also saved up for the deposit for his high school.
Putting education first
As a family, we have made sacrifices regarding our standard of living. We managed our costs, for example, keeping the same car and limited the holidays and outings we went on. I was realistic about what I wanted to achieve for Sammy and accepted that I needed to make certain sacrifices for this to be possible.
I also have open conversations with my son about our financial status and emphasise the value of living within our means and not comparing ourselves to others.
Something I wish someone had told me about planning for schooling is that there are always unexpected costs. You should always plan or have a buffer.
The unexpected costs were mostly things like lost school uniforms (those tracksuits and blazers are expensive!) and school trips. I managed these by tapping into my savings and on occasion family members would help out.
Passing down good money habits
I have taught Sammy about the importance of saving for the future. He has his own bank account and a monthly budget for pocket money that he must manage. He knows he has to plan his expenses well so that his money lasts him the whole month and covers his needs.
I also always gave him the costs of items or events and let him make choices so that he understood the value of money and that he couldn’t always have everything he wanted. For example, he would have to choose between having a birthday party and getting a new bike.
I involve him in big household decisions, making him aware that we are saving for a particular item or upgrade and shopping around for the best deals. More recently, I’ve put Sammy in charge of buying the household groceries and I have to admit, he does a much better job than I did!
Tips for new parents
- Start saving for your child’s education as soon as you can – even before they are born.
- Have a formal educational savings plan or policy for your kids – save money at a high interest rate in your GoalSave!
- Save or use extra income payments (such as bonuses) to pay off the school fees at the beginning of the year to get a discount.
- If you intend to send your child to a private school, plan and apply early to get them into the good schools in your area.
Saving for your child’s future
With TymeBank, you can put money aside for your child’s education and watch it grow. GoalSave is a free savings tool linked to your EveryDay account that lets you save for up to 10 different goals. If you are a parent, education should be one of them. With GoalSave you can earn as much as 8% interest a year. Start saving today: Check out TymeBank’s GoalSave for more information.