Early Childhood Education Planning Tips

While no child is alike and each family is unique, a common tread run deep in the heart of every home – the desire of parent is to give their children the BEST education possible and see them grow into their full potential. However, life is full of unplanned surprise and the path to achieving this desire may be a convoluted one. That’s where a sound investment strategy comes in. With flexible planning and a suite of investment options that are available, you may help put your child on the journey to a valuable college degree. Here are a few TIPS that may help kick-start you planning:

1. CREATE A FINANCIAL PLAN WITH AN END IN MIND.

First, make an estimate of the costs that will go into your child’s education. Your cost should take into account inflation over the investment or saving period. With the estimate as a guide, start piecing together your investment plan. There are many education planning option, each with its own risks and benefits, which you may use alone or simultaneously to achieve your goals:

a. AN EDUCATION SAVING PLAN is a good place to start as it aims to offer payout when your child enters college. Some education savings plan may also provide protection benefits to the child and or parent.

b. PROPERTY may provide rental yields and capital appreciation to fund your child’s tertiary education. Rental yields may be used to top up your child’s education fund savings or pay for your child’s tuition. Should the value of your properties appreciate, it may be sold to obtain capital gains. Investing in property has its risks too as the property market may fluctuate in the future and you may not be able to get the selling price you hope for.

c. UNIT TRUSTS and STRUCTURED INVESTMENTS can be added to your investment plan, if they fit your risk profile, time frame and target goal for your child’s education.

d. AN INVESTMENT LINKED PLAN can be tailor-made to grow your wealth with the flexibility to choose the type of funds suitable to your risk profile and goals. Your child may be nominated to receive protection benefits, should the unforeseen happen to you. Usually, you would have the option to make regular contribution or a single contribution in line with your financial standing.

2. SET UP AN AUTOMATIC SYSTEM TO INVEST REGULARLY

Set in motion action plan that makes savings or investing automatic. Many savings, investment linked plan and unit trust funds often regular monthly, quarterly, half-annually or annual contributions option. By investing regularly, you will also benefit from Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA) which average out the high and lows of an investment and possibly lower the total average cost per share of the investment.

3. REVIEW THE PLAN

Regular reviews of the plan will help you stay on track with your target goals. Review it at least annually and with every major life change such as new child, career advancement or move to a bigger house. Find ways to top up if it is not up to speed in reaching your investment goal.

4. TOP UP ANNUALLY or WHEN YOU CAN

You could consider increasing the amount of contribution annually or top up your regular contributions when your income increase such as when you receive a bonus or get a pay rise, in order to meet your target earlier or achieve an even large fund.

5. NO DIPPING INTO THE FUNDS

Choose a plan that locks in your funds for your children’s education till they are ready to leave for college. If it is easy to cash out the education fund, chances are you may be tempted to use the money for other emergencies or needs that may crop up in life.

6. ENCOURAGE CONTRIBUTION FROM FAMILY MEMBERS

Encourage grandparents or relatives who shower your children with gifts to consider opting for a cash contribution towards their education fund instead.

7. MAKE IT A TEAM EFFORT

Get your children involved in saving for their education. When you are reviewing your investments for their education fund, talk to them about it and make them aware if the challenges and commitment you face in saving for their education. If possible, let them contribute a small portion of their allowance to their education fund too. And before they leave for university help them develop good money management habits to help them live within their means.

Online Education Class

You may have heard about online classes, but you may not be aware of how popular and pervasive they have become. In the last few years, it seems as though everyone is online learning or researching something. The Internet provides unprecedented access to knowledge and education for people of all ages.

In addition to the over 3 million college students who are taking at least some of their classes online, there are online high schools, online career training schools and courses and continuing education for adults online.

A 2005 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 44% of American adults, almost 93 million people, were pursuing some type of continuing education.

They also note reported that 32% of these adults had participated in some form of distance or online education. This means that almost 30 million adults were involved in learning or taking a class online.
Why do people take online continuing education classes?

The NCES survey found that 27% of continuing education students were taking work-related courses or training programs, While 21% were taking courses to pursue personal interests, and 4% were part-time students working on a university degree.

Dr Kenneth Hartman, director of academic affairs for Drexel University Online says “Online learning is the fastest growing area in higher education today. As more and more adults look to higher education to expand their knowledge base for promotional or new career opportunities, they will look to online learning as a convenient and viable way to continue their education.”

It is now estimated that the average person will change careers 3-5 times during their lifetime. Online classes and training can allow you to prepare for a career change without quitting your job and going back to school. You can take university or college classes online that will count towards a degree, or career training classes, which generally are not transferable to universities.
What kind of personal interest classes are available online?

The second most common reason people take continuing education classes is for personal satisfaction or personal interest. In this area, the choices are tremendous.
Have you always been fascinated by ancient Egypt? Would you like to learn about the history of Egypt, study hieroglyphics and archeological discoveries? For only $149, you can take an interactive online course in Egyptology.

Or have you dreamed of tracing your family tree and exploring your family history, if you only knew where to start? You can take a 4-week online genealogy class that explains records searches, tips, chats and more for less than $30.

Or maybe you’ve always wished you could speak Italian or Spanish. You can take an online class, complete with instant translation features and become proficient in a short time. Courses are available in 7 languages for under $30.

Are there practical or hobby classes available online?

Oh, yes. There are hundreds of choices in the continuing education or noncredit field, and some of them are very practical and helpful. For example, would you like to learn how to prepare your own taxes instead of paying someone to do it? You can take an online course in Tax Preparation for around $50 that will teach you about forms, filing status, income, credits, pensions and more.

If you are over 50 and want to save some money or just refresh your driving skills, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers an online Driver Safety class for around $20. This could get you a discount on your auto insurance and make you feel more comfortable on the road.

Now that spring is on the way, are you thinking of gardens? Perhaps you live in an apartment or don’t have much of a yard. You can still have a beautiful garden in containers. The Horticulture Gardening Institute can teach you which plants to choose and how to care for them in their online class “Art and Science of Container Gardening” for around $70.

A more expensive option is an online class in digital photography. While the beginning class is around $300, it is an 8-week class and includes critiques and instruction from professional photographers. If you would like to learn photography on this level, this could be a great opportunity.

Or, if you are mainly concerned with learning how to use the digital camera you got as a gift, you may want to check out “The Art of Digital Photography” at UniversalClass. This class covers areas such as using the camera, scanning images, printing pictures and choosing cameras, along with basic photography for around $99.