Private education leads to self-sacrifice

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Private education leads to self-sacrifice

Most of the parents I met while researching a story said that they would not cut down on investment in private education.

Mrs. Kim, a 48-year-old mother from Yongin, Gyeonggi, recently started working again after living as a homemaker for the past 20 years. “I want to pay for my children’s education even if I starve,” she said. “I would even collect and sell waste paper for my children.”

Most responses posted online indicate that people are not willing to cut down on education. Many said that they can barely save for retirement because it is so difficult to keep up with private education.

Financial specialists advise that parents not spend more than 20 percent of their monthly income on education costs for their children. Rather, they should put their savings toward their national, retirement and personal pension plans.

If they don’t get a handle on educational spending now, then they are putting their post-retirement lives at stake. That’s what happened to Mr. Jang, 61, who has worked as a security guard for three years now since retiring from a small company.

“I felt disappointed when my daughter asked me to help her financially once she got married, since I’d already spent more than 100 million won [$91,000] on her education until she found a job. But I didn’t want to be considered an incompetent father.”

When Samsung Life Insurance surveyed 518 retirees, 54 percent said they are financially struggling, which prompted a researcher to advise that there is no other solution than for parents to cut down on educational expenses - the largest household cost for those in their 40s.

Parents need to accept the fact that their investment won’t pay off. The latest job crunch has broken the formula that theorizes that investing in private education will grant a child admission into a prestigious university, therefore guaranteeing employment at a major corporation. Last year, only 55 percent of four-year college graduates found a job. In an annual survey conducted by the National Statistics Service, respondents in their 20s who said they would support their parents later in life fell from 67 percent in 2002, to 34 percent last year.

If you want to continue to bet “all-in” on education for your children, I cannot stop you. But you can’t expect a comfortable retirement if you spend that kind of money. Most students in their 20s who I met while covering this issue said that they had never even thought about their parents’ retirement. So basically, if you go “all-in” on your child’s education, you are sacrificing not just your life after retirement but also your child’s independent mind. Parents, you must take care of your own retirement. I’m still in my early 30s, but I recently signed up for a personal pension.

The author is a national news writer
for the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 27, Page 29


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