By Jay Ledesma

The greatest gift  of all

I CAME from a middle single income family. My father was a regular employee while my mother was a full-time housewife. Despite this, they managed to send me and my 3 siblings to a local private school. But I remember, there was a time when our family faced a crisis that affected our finances. Sending the 4 of us to a private school will be a big challenge, my daddy said. Though sad, we accepted the possibility of being transferred to a public school. But we were all surprised when my mom brought out 5 big bottles of Johnson’s baby powder where she has been keeping her savings and told us we don’t have to transfer school.  She has been saving the money she earns from selling art crafts and “kakanin” to our neighbors and her friends. For emergencies, she said. And for her, our education is an emergency.
My mom believes that parents have the obligation to provide their children with the best education they can afford. She will always tell us “we have no wealth to leave behind. The only gift we can give you is a good education”. And I will forever be thankful for that gift! 
Am sure all parents want the best education for their kids. Yet, statistics show that every year, enrollment rate drops. More and more children are unable to enroll or are forced to drop out mainly due to financial reasons.  Why? Because wanting a good education for our kids is one thing, preparing for it is a whole different story.  And that spells a huge difference. 
Most parents with average means like me, usually prepare for our child’s education either by saving in the bank or by getting educational/insurance plans.  
While I have my savings account, I reserve this for my short term or emergency money needs.  Personally, I did not use this to prepare for my children’s education fund because It requires strict self-discipline (which honestly I didn’t have before) to ensure that I am regularly putting money regardless of my expenses for the month. And since money is very accessible, I have to be disciplined not to spend it outside of its original purpose. Sometimes, saving is not the problem...keeping it untouched is. 
But if you are confident that you can self-regulate, traditional savings can be an alternative. It may be wise though to open a separate account exclusively for your child’s educational funds. 
I am just lucky that I was already working with an insurance company when I had my children. I was introduced and given access to the different educational products which later on provided the funds for my children’s tuition fees from HS to college. I preferred this because payment is scheduled/structured and no matter how badly I want or need it, I cannot withdraw from the funds. I know the educational funds of my children are safe. Of course, it matters which Company you’re getting it from! 
This pandemic caught all of us by surprise. No one got an advanced memo. Even those with supposedly good and stable jobs were affected. This is when having the proper preparation scores BIG TIME. 
The daughter of my friend sent me a message recently, thanking me for convincing her to get educational plans for her 3 children from the money she inherited from her dad instead of putting up a small business. She has a very good job and is able to send her children to school without needing the proceeds from the educational plans. Until this pandemic when she had to take a big pay cut in order to keep her job. She’s thankful that with the proceeds she received from the educational plans, she was able to enroll her kids and buy them a new laptop. Otherwise, it would have been a major struggle for her. 
Regardless of whether you do it through traditional savings (with a bank or using a bottle of Johnson’s powder) or thru an educational program, what’s important is for parents to be mindful that it is our responsibility to prepare and secure our child’s education from life’s uncertainties.  
For while money, house and lot and businesses are good gifts to give or leave to our children,  Education is still the greatest of all! 


About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.