THE school bell has rung; the costs have begun!

The school bell has rung at schools, colleges and universities across the UK and this month, hundreds of thousands of students have returned to their classrooms.

Late summer marks the start of a new academic year and for those with children, it is the annual reminder of the fast approaching financial pressures which lie ahead.

Whether it is the cost of private school or university fees, music lessons, school trips or driving lessons, having children can add layers of financial strain to any marriage or partnership.

Simple financial planning measures can help to avoid the trigger points of financial strain in the future, allowing parents to enjoy the milestones in their children’s lives, rather than them becoming trigger points for worry.

Planning for your child’s future:

1 Identify the costs. Set a realistic figure for school or university fees and estimate project costs such as learning to drive. Mapping out the significant spends for a child can be straightforward and will provide you with saving deadlines and sums to achieve.

2 Don’t rule out investing rather than saving. If you have a new baby and want to save for university costs, then you may want to consider stocks and shares ISAs, rather than cash ones. Stock market-linked investments are best considered when the money is not needed for at least five years, preferably more, as time is required for any rises or falls in the stock market to even out and hopefully provide greater returns than would be available with a savings account.

3 Talk to grandparents and great grandparents about your financial plans for your child. If you start saving goals specifically and early, then relatives have the opportunity to contribute. They may prefer to make a donation to a university fund, rather than buying expensive gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

4 Don’t save for your child in isolation to your other finances. Financial planning is about mapping out your income now, so it works better for you in the future. Your child’s future costs should form part of these plans but do not compromise other essential costs, such as life insurance or contributing into your own pension.

5 Speak to a financial adviser; someone who can share the burden of managing your money properly. They can help you to arrange your ISA investments as well as review your other investments and pensions. They will also be able to help grandparents and great grandparents gift to your child and, if there are inheritance tax concerns, ensure this is done most efficiently to maximise the amount of the gift.

As with every aspect of financial planning, it pays to get in there early and plan for the future. I think that the cost of education is more than likely to increase in the future so it makes even more sense to plan ahead.

You can get in touch with Billy by calling his freephone number: 0800 321 3508. Or you can reach him via the website,, where there is a contact page, or email him directly: