The Fixer: saving for children

Jess Bown
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Have you been left out of pocket due to poor service or sharp practice? Do you have a money problem that won't go away?

It can seem impossible to get a fair result when you are battling a financial issue alone. But never fear! The AOL Money Fixer is here to help.

Dear Fixer,

I want to make sure my daughter, who is now two years old, has enough money to go to university without getting into lots of debt.

I have been saving £50 a month into a savings account for her for about the last 18 months, but I am only getting interest at about 1%.

What is the best way to save for her future? And how can I work out how much I need to save to ensure she can go to university? Thank you for your help.

M Hargreaves, Portsmouth

Dear Mr Hargreaves,

A typical student now leaves university with debts of £44,500. At your current rate of saving, you will only have about a quarter of this by the time your daughter is 18.

You therefore need to increase the amount you save each month if possible. If you could increase your monthly investment to £150 or £200, for example, the end amount would go a lot further towards covering the bill.

It may also prove sensible to switch from a savings account to a tax-efficient Junior ISA. There are two types available: one is a tax-free savings account provided by a bank or building society, the other is a tax-efficient account within which you can invest in stocks and shares.

The latter is probably the best choice at the moment as savings account interest rates are very low, and statistics show that investing in stocks and shares generally provides better returns over the long term.

The amount you can pay into accounts of this kind is capped. This tax year, for example, you can pay in up to £4,080.

But that should not prove a problem as that is significantly more than you are saving at the moment and should provide your daughter with well over the current average student debt of £44,500 if you were able to pay in the maximum £340 per month.

For more advice on how much you need to save, check out this infographic from The Shepherds Friendly Society.

The Government website will give you more information about Junior ISAs, providers of which include banks and building societies such as Halifax and Nationwide, as well as investment houses such as Fidelity International and M&G.

The Fixer

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