My wife and I had plans of dedicating the first year of our marriage to each other. No children yet, we said, just us. But nature had other plans. Barely two months into the marriage, she got pregnant. Though unprepared, we were elated, especially when we later discovered we would be having twins. Our boys came, bouncing with life and always eager to eat. Soon, I realised just how big a commitment fatherhood is. The list never ends – baby food and diapers, walkers and new clothes that speedy growth soon render useless – I provided them all with joy.
Before long, it was time for school. Knowing the value of foundations, we embarked on a quest to find our kids the best school around. It was then the real shocker came. The fees were outrageous. After demanding tuition of about N60, 000, we were still expected to pay for uniforms, books, music lessons and swimming. Music lessons and swimming? For 1 year olds that could hardly talk! I was stunned. All my attempts at bargaining with the head teacher failed, it was either I coughed out N90, 000 per child or took my children to another school. Other schools were only mildly cheaper and a little farther from home – our hands were tied.
Returning home, we strategized. School fees have to be paid three times a year, about 3 months apart. We also had to factor in the fact that school fees will most likely increase as our children progress. Combining our financial muscles, we could afford to pay the fees but what happens in years to come when the demand increases? Of course, we hoped to have one or two more children in later years who will also attend good schools. Would we be able to cope? What if something happened and one of us had to stop working? We needed a sustainable plan.
Opting to seek counsel from older couples who must have crossed this bridge at some point, we spoke with Efe, my wife’s cousin. He was fortunate to have had his two kids at two years interval. He revealed that he had an education savings plan with an insurance company, one that enabled him save a substantial sum monthly towards his children’s education. He said the plan worked better than saving in a traditional savings account because the insurance company hold you accountable, monitoring your deposits and paying interests periodically. After a stipulated number of years, you are paid a lump sum. He explained that he plans it such that the lump sum comes in at the point where his kids are about to make major academic advancements like primary school to secondary school. The benefits are endless, he said, should anything happen to the parent, it serves as a cover for the continued education of the children left behind..
His words soothed us like rain after three days of hot Lagos sun, we were relieved and reassured. Since we had proof that his plan worked, we decided to use the same plan so we spoke with his contact at ARM Life.
Three years have gone by, my boys welcome me home every day with nursery rhymes and ‘A for Apple’ and it’s the highpoint of my day. Updates from my insurance company come in periodically, intimating me on the growth of the fund and assuring me that no matter how expensive education gets or whatever happens to me, I will still be able to provide the best for my boys and the little girl due to arrive in a few months.