Forget gifts and get saving...

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Here’s the best piece of advice you’re getting all week.

If you’re a parent to a toddler or two and have ambitions of them going to university one day, start saving up now. Not next month, now. Cancel Christmas.

By the time the mid-2030s come around, and if humanity is still a going concern by then, you’re going to need every penny you can get your hands on. So that GoPro camera and special harness you were thinking about getting the dog for Christmas is sadly out of your price range now, I’m afraid. The cost of higher education has been brought into sharp focus in our house over the past year or two by the fact that we raised two intelligent, highly motivated young women who, when they grow up, want to be a lawyer and an actor.

And the golden rule of parenting is... back your kids to the hilt, whatever.

Daughter #1 has completed the first term of a law degree at Liverpool University (the Bank of Mum and Dad pay her student halls rent of £5,823 a year) and she gets a £4,000-a-year maintenance loan and tuition fees of around £9,250 a year on the never-never.

All this at a punitive rate of interest that payday loan sharks Wonga would’ve been too shame-faced to charge, that’s been accumulating since mid-September and will continue to do so for the next 32-and-a-half years. By the time it’s paid off she’ll be three years older than I am now and will have been saddled with a lifetime of debt.

Daughter #2 is in her second year at LIPA Sixth Form and is currently applying for uni and stage schools, where open days and auditions up and down the country will be taking up our weekends for the next few months. We’ve got our fingers crossed that she gets a place at ‘Big LIPA’ and decides to stay in Liverpool because Liverpool is a lot nearer than Glasgow, Cardiff, London and Essex.

It’s a shame that yours truly was born with only one functioning kidney, otherwise I could sell one to pay part of our kids’ accommodation fees for the 2020/21 academic year, on top of the arm and a leg it’s going to cost us anyway.