Saving for kids' education a top priority here

Saving for children's education is a top priority among Singaporeans, with a significant proportion beginning to save starting from the birth of their child, a survey has found.

Friends Provident International's (FPI) latest investor attitude survey has found that while 73 per cent of Singapore respondents with children begin to save for their children's university education before their child turns five, 39 per cent start saving from the child's birth.

About a third (33 per cent) are planning beyond the undergraduate course, and aim to fund the cost of a master's degree.

Chris Gill, FPI general manager (South-east Asia), said: "These results would appear to reflect an awareness of the intense competition in job markets globally where people are increasingly equipping themselves with multiple qualifications to ensure they stand out from the crowd."

More than 60 per cent currently save between $500 and $3,000 a month for children's education. The majority of respondents expect children educated abroad to have a higher earnings potential.

As for the expected university expenses, the most popular estimate of the cost of a Singapore university course is between $50,000 and $100,000. Tertiary education in the US is expected to cost $180,000 to $200,000. UK education is estimated at $120,000 to $150,000. These estimates do not include inflation. Educational inflation is significantly higher than traditional headline inflation.

Mr Gill said that there were additional factors such as accommodation, books and subsistence costs, as well as the currency exchange risk. Over 61 per cent expect their child to study in a Singapore university.

Meanwhile, on the investment outlook, respondents remain broadly optimistic over the next six months, although over a third think that the global economic situation would worsen.

About 64 per cent believe that they can exploit this uncertainty, but the tricky part is just how they can do so. Just over half say that they find it difficult to know what to do with their investments in the current climate.

Confidence in bonds has dropped by 12 index points and views are only "borderline positive", said the investor attitude report.

Confidence in equities did not change much: 52 per cent believe that now is a good or very good time to invest.

Sentiment towards property has also remained stable: 51 per cent believe that now is a good or very good time to invest compared to 18 per cent who say that it is a bad or very bad time. The survey was conducted last month and involved some 570 respondents.

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