Someone said this to me about 18 years ago when their daughter, a similar age to mine, had just started playgroup.  This mother, so upset about losing the company of her toddler, not long after started to home-school – successfully, huge admiration.  At the same point, I practically jogged to the coffee shop with glee, time to myself!

I remembered this comment when we dropped our daughter off at university a couple of years ago, and it struck me again, and probably millions of other parents, how quickly time goes.

When building up to this event, I realised just how expensive university is and how important it is to plan.  My working life is devoted to helping my clients plan ahead and it’s essential to “walk the talk” yourself.  That’s why we adopted some great software in our business a few years ago, so that we could help our clients see their financial future and give them confidence to make the big decisions.  Before we “let loose” on our clients, we used it ourselves and could really see the benefits.  I would advise anyone, who thinks their child might go into further education, to start planning for this when they start high school.

What sort of things do you need to plan for?

  • How much will they need to live on (excluding fees of course).  It’s easy for them to get a loan for the fees but the maintenance loan depends on your income).  Don’t be fooled into thinking a loan will cover all of it, and do you want them to have loads of debt anyway? If you have joint household income of £100,000 or above they can only obtain a £4,168 maintenance loan.
  • The cost of university accommodation varies hugely from town to town – in somewhere like Belfast for instance, halls can be as little as £4,000 per annum whereas in somewhere like St Andrews it can be as much as £8,500.  Do your homework as this might inform their choice.
  • Also have a good look at rental costs for the following  year when they move into a house/flat – in some towns this can cost less than University accommodation but in London, for instance, much more.
  • Sit down and realistically discuss a budget for food/likely bills/clothes/going out and negotiate on what you feel is reasonable.  This could be a challenging conversation!
  • Set expectations – how full time is their course? Can they realistically get a part time job during term-time or just in the holidays?

This is just one of the ‘big ticket’ items that requires planning.  There are many more.  If you need some help planning for the future just get in touch with us – it’s what we do.

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