Sometime ago, I saw the school fee receipt of my nephew and was shocked to see six digits in it! Well he is in an international school, but why such high fees in school? I could not resist myself from confronting him and knowing more about his subjects and teaching methodology. I was surprised to know of the modern techniques which seemed like a fairy tale to me. Moreover, he was learning sports like horse riding, mountain climbing and languages like French and Spanish from as early as 6th grade itself! I went on to ask him his career aspirations, and he said “I am not sure, I will explore and decide!” After a detailed discussion, I came to know that most of his friends have a similar thought towards their career planning.

Children today are not just restricted to being a doctor, engineer or an MBA – they are now exploring all varieties of career options. Being a radio jock, model, actor, consultant, wedding planner or even a photographer is a normal career option for them – which was not the case a decade ago. Back then, a fee of Rupees One Lakh was a staggering high amount but now it is a very well accepted figure. Moreover, kids today are exposed to the internet at a very early age and this has broadened their horizons to multitude of career options, which once upon a time was a distant reality.

But with such careers come the associated college fees and other expenses – which are neither less nor predictable. For that matter, pursuing a conventional course like Engineering, at a Private Institution, means a spending power of atleast 3 lakh rupees a year in a tier-1 city. And if one intends to pursue a career in an off-beat field like film-making from a premier institution, there are advanced diplomas and certificate courses which cost much more than this amount. And well, all these are costs as of today. It is all going to shoot up in the days to come and I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 lakhs becomes a benchmark for college fees.

Since students in India are financially dependent on parents (unlike that in USA where working part-time is a norm), the parents have to plan for child’s future for school fees, college fees, living expenses and wedding expenses. Now let us not discuss about weddings because I have seen people spending from 10 lakhs to 10 crores – and all of it is spent happily. And hey, did we miss out on the medical expenses and the yearly holidays?

Families with hereditary properties and incomes can do this smoothly, but what about parents with no ancestral support or rich backing? I advise such parents that do your homework, since your kids are not going to pursue a career you plan for them; and even if they do, the fees and other expenses are rising day by day. All your financial calculations will go for a toss if you count on bank fixed deposits, because inflation and other expenses are rising way beyond the bank FD rates.

I know that all of this sounds scary and gloomy, but my intention is to ensure that you do a proper planning so that you do not have to compromise on your children’s aspirations. By the way, my brother had invested in the Axis Mutual Fund and hence he was relaxed about my nephew’s aspirations and dreams! So yes, you also #DoYourHomework!

April 4, 2016
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