One day, I received an email from a desperate mother.

Her son is studying in the UK. But, due to some financial problems, she couldn’t afford to pay for her son’s college fees. The amount overdue was around RM75,000. If she couldn’t make the payment on time, which was just one week away from her email, her son would be kicked out of college.


How did she find me?
It was from an article cum advertisement posted on behalf of Mr. Koon Yew Yin, our local philanthropist. Koon sponsors tuition fees to hundreds of students on their foundation studies in local universities. These students are not required to pay back as long as they are studying courses relating to accounting and finance in local universities across Malaysia. Thus, the son of the desperate mother would not qualify for Mr. Koon’s sponsorship. Instead, the desperate mother wrote to me with the intention of securing a loan to pay for her son’s college fees.

I am sympathetic to her situation. However, I could not be of much help to her. Here is what I believe. There are millions of people who are in greater need of immediate financial assistance. A significant portion of them, especially children, are not properly fed, clothed, and have a chance to receive education. As such, I opined that the desperate mother’s situation was not ‘desperate’ in comparison to millions who are genuinely unfortunate.

Anyway, I have informed her that I could not extend her any form of monetary assistance. She asked, ‘How about Mr. Koon? Would he be kind enough to extend a loan to her?’ I replied, ‘It’s entirely up to Mr. Koon.’ But, deep within, I doubted that Mr. Koon would extend any form of financial aid to her.

Throughout the week, I had also received Facebook messages from her. Through our exchanges, I gave her suggestions to source for her son’s tuition fees. They include cash value from existing insurance policies, obtaining personal loans, and so on and so forth. From her messages, I was informed that she had reached out to charities, churches, Her Royal Highness Sultanah Johor’s foundation, and even political parties. Her attempts were futile as she failed to raise the money needed.

At the end, I wished her the best of ‘luck’. I could not do much more for her.


This incident has prompted me to write an important message to you. Please read on if:

  1. You are a Parent.
  2. You want to Provide your Children the Best Education that you can possibly Afford.
  3. You want Your Children to Excel in Academics, Careers, and in Businesses.


If you have a sincere desire to see your children graduating with a Master or even a PhD from a Prominent University located in Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom or the United States, then, I personally reckon that you don’t leave anything by chance.


If you are a parent and are not rich presently, it is perfectly okay. If you are really serious about it, you would have started to make preparations for it since the day your precious child was born. This should give you some 18 years (not 18 days or 18 months) to raise the necessary finances for your children’s education fees.

The rule of thumb is: ‘Start Early – Don’t Wait till he’s sitting for SPM’


How do you start the education fund engine?

The methods are plentiful. You may choose the following:

– Invest in Properties. They appreciate in value over time. By the time you need cash, you can choose to either refinance them or sell them. In the meantime, your tenants would help you with a big chunk of your mortgage installments. Awesome!

– Invest in Stocks, especially the ones that possess excellent financial track records such as Public Bank or Berkshire Hathaway Inc. But, make sure you get them at the Right Price for Maximum Gains.

– Invest in SSPN. You would get tax relief of up to RM 6,000 a year and occasionally, some ‘bonuses’ from our government. For instance, I received RM 500 from our government as it matches with my contribution of RM 500 in early 2018. Cool.

– Education Insurance Policy. I believe, it is only suitable for parents with young kids as it takes time to really compound the cash bonuses received. If you are a parent of a teenage kid, then, you may skip this option. But, if you go for it, you may qualify for tax relief of up to RM 3,000 a year.


Personally, I have done all of the mentioned above for my son.



Remember My Friends: You have 18 years!

On the flip side, here’s a question: ‘What if you couldn’t set aside enough money for your kid’s tertiary education fees?’

Would you empty your bank accounts, EPF account and sell off your house to see your kids through university? Many parents did and are now broke. Most of them could not afford to retire. Do I recommend it? Here is my reply: ‘Would you be physically fit and healthy to continue working when you are in your 50s and 60s?’ It is a food for thought. In general, I would opine that the young has more energy and vigor to work as compared to most senior citizens.

What is the other option? It is simple. Just be honest about your financial situation and tell your children about it. In many cases, your children will understand. They are not necessarily clueless. It is helpful to let your children know about it so that they can be mentally and emotionally prepared for it.

Personally, I went through the same fate, which I think, there are countless of stories similar to mine.

I scored 10As (8 A1s and 2 A2s) for my SPM in 1995. I am really proud of it as it placed me among the top 8 in the state of Kedah at that point of time. However, I did not receive a scholarship as there were not many options anyway. I knew that my parents could not afford to send me to colleges, both local and overseas, as they told me frankly in advance when I started to do well in my exams during my secondary school days.

Here was what I did. I took up aeronautical engineering at UTM as I can skip two years of Form 6. Often, I would still dreamed about me pursuing a music degree, perhaps at Berklee College of Music in the United States. But, nevertheless, I became a full-time musician before I graduated as an aeronautical engineer.

This is my story. Hopefully, it inspires you to pursue your dreams, goals and aspirations with great tenacity, regardless whether you are rich or poor, young or old, educated or not. Here is a side note. You do not need to get yourself into a financial crisis to fund their education. I believe, your children would eventually be a success, regardless whether they received the best education the world could offer or otherwise.

With that said, if you wish to give them the very best, there is utterly no excuse to start preparing early. You got Yourself as much as 18 years to start. So, start now! 




Personal finance author and trainer

    7 replies to "18 Years of Preparation…"

    • Lu

      You say we have 18 years to save? Considering those who don’t, that sounds unrealistic.

      How about 5 years till 18y.o? Can one still invest in an education fund?

      • KCLau

        Your options:
        1. The long term insurance plan won’t work for short term because most of the plan are >12 years. For insurance related plan, only those single-premium investment-linked plan might work in this situation.
        2. Unit trust / ETF
        3. SSPN: The best I think is SSPN in this case – you get about 4% return per annum, no upfront cost, no maintenance fee, sometimes they give top up matching depending on offer, and flexible withdrawal without penalty, and tax benefit.

    • Jonathan keung

      SSpN should extend to other age groups

    • Ken Soong

      good article KC : ) thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story too!

    • Andrew

      Hi KC,

      I just had my first child this year and am thinking of saving through SSPN. The tax relief is an attractive offer but how reputable is this fund considering how badly run some investment schemes (e.g. 1MDB, Felda) by the previous BN government have been? Also, will the new PH government dissolve this scheme or will they set up a new one? Any news/tips from your wealth of knowledge and network is much appreciated!

      • KCLau

        This is managed by the government. You will have to trust them if you decide to put money in SSPN.

        • Lu

          Is the savings in sspn guaranteed by the government? What does ‘guaranteed’ means?

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