As much as Singaporean parents are (I hope) happy to let their kids de-stress a little during the school holidays, if both are juggling full-time jobs, having the kids at home all day and waiting to be entertained can feel like taking on a second job after hours.
Ideally, you want your kids to be happy and yet somewhat occupied during the holidays. Sure, you could leave them to their own devices at home, but that also means they could spend the entire month surfing Instagram or levelling up in DOTA.
On the other hand, going on a lavish family holiday in Europe or signing up your kids for all sorts of holiday camps that can ensure they have a bright future will cost a ton of money.
Here are three things you should avoid if you want to ensure the school holidays don’t bring about financial ruin for your family:
Booking your family’s overseas trip at the last minute
The past month has been filled with anxiety over Junior’s final exams, so of course you haven’t really had the time to plan for your family’s annual overseas holiday.
But booking your overseas trip at the last minute could cost your family hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you’ve got kids in tow, every expense is amplified—you’re not trying to find two affordable plane tickets but three, four or five. In addition, airfare during the school holidays tends to get inflated very quickly.
If you haven’t booked your overseas holiday yet and don’t want to get ripped off, you’ll have to display a bit of flexibility. You might have to give up your dreams of a white Christmas in London or Paris this year and head to Hong Kong or Seoul instead, simply because tickets are cheaper and not as susceptible to school holiday inflation.
Signing up your kids for too many activities
Kids are very busy these days, what with tuition, CCAs and the like. To kiasu parents, the school holidays might be the only time their kids get to take part in activities such as leadership camps, sailing lessons, hanyu pinyin boot camps and so on.
But signing your kids up for too many activities during the school holidays will not only burn a hole in your pocket, but also lead to fatigue and the child feeling like he’s heading back to school without having had a good rest.
Holiday camps can be beneficial but only in moderation. Considering the school holidays are only a month long, one camp or activity is plenty. If the kids get bored, you can always sign them up for free workshops with the National Library Board.
Not setting a budget
Singaporean parents tend to take a no-holds-barred approach to spending on their kids. And since the school holidays only come along twice a year, it can be tempting to go all out with overseas trips, visits to the zoo, Christmas presents and meals at all their favourite restaurants.
By all means, allow yourself to spend a little more during the holiday season, if that’s what you want. But don’t forget to budget for it. Take a look at your finances and whether you’ve met your savings and investing goals for the year. Then you’ll be in a better position to decide how much you can actually afford to spend in December.
You might feel like you want to spoil your child since he or she has been such an angel all year round, but refrain from thinking that busting your budget is the only way you can do so. Even if you’re on a tight budget or have realised you can’t afford to spend as much as you’d like, you can help your child enjoy the holidays in other ways.
There are now many venues all over Singapore where children can enjoy the day without spending a cent. And there is no substitute for quality time spent as a family and away from smartphone and laptop screens.
What are your biggest expenses during the school holidays? Tell us in the comments!