Monday, 22 December 2014

Education: alleviating poverty or causing it, funding children with retirement fund?

It is not prudent to fund children’s education with your retirement fund

EDUCATION is the social game changer. In poor countries, it alleviates poverty. In developing nations like Malaysia, a more educated population can catapult us to developed status.

Scores of parents are striving hard to send their children to international schools to gain the holistic education, have better choices of tertiary institutions and have access to better paying jobs.

Borrowing future funds

Sending children to international schools is deemed the ticket out of mediocrity in Malaysia and to have a fighting chance in the global job market. But to what end?

Whether it is using EPF savings or selling off property to fund children’s private or international school education, this can be costly to many middle-class parents. While it may be acceptable to borrow funds to ensure our children get better secondary or tertiary education as they can always pay off the loans when they become employed, it is harder to replace “lost” retirement funds.

Therefore, it is not a prudent move to use funds meant for retirement as the fund is most needed when the “parents” are not at income-generating age any more.

Prioritising funds

With today’s Gen X-ers who are becoming parents at later age, we not only have to nurture our children but also care for our ageing parents whilst saving for our retirement. Prioritising investments is key.

1. Be realistic. Parents want the best for our children. If education savings are started early to take advantage of compounding effect, that’s great. If funds only permit an overseas tertiary education, then find the best local education option as our children can still experience holistic learning during university years abroad.

2. Gen Y-er parent, start investing now into a diversified portfolio. It is already too late if you have not started, as the cost of education will only increase.

3. Education is not just about getting the paper qualification. It is about learning. Parents can show kids new ways to learn without busting purses. Take advantage of free online courses like TedTalk or Khan Academy and “experiences” offered by museums, art galleries, nature trips and even playtime in the park.

By CHEONG WAI KUAN, VICE-PRESIDENT OF SUCCESS CINCEPTS LIFE PARTNERS

The writer can be contacted at info@successconcepts.biz / http://www.successconcepts.biz/ The Star/Asia News Network

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