When Singaporean parents lament that it’s crazy expensive to bring up kids here these days, most of the time they’re not talking about mundane things like keeping the bubs fed and in school.
No, chances are they’re thinking of tuition classes, piano lessons and CCAs—not activities like science club or choir, mind you, but endeavours that would make Prince William proud, like fencing or horseback riding.
Well, it’s one thing to want your kid to have the freedom to pursue their interests, and quite another to have to take up a second job at your neighbourhood Esso station to pay for it. Here’s how not to deprive your child of CCAs and after school activities without spending his entire inheritance.
Get your child started on a hobby you can teach him
Many parents make the mistake of getting their kids started with hobbies they think will benefit them later on in life. Too bad they forget about the fact that they, the parents, can barely tell a golf club from a club sandwich and think the greatest pianist of all time is Richard Clayderman.
Of course, there’s no rule that dictates that you should never let your kids pursue interests that are different from your own. But if saving money is at the forefront of your mind, then getting your child started on a hobby you are already proficient in can be a little cheaper. You’ll be able to show him the ropes instead of hiring a teacher or coach to do so, and equipment can be shared between you.
For instance, if you already play tennis, your child doesn’t have to enrol in a tennis academy or hire a coach in order to practise his strokes. If you already play the guitar and have your own instrument at home, it is much cheaper for you to get your child started than someone who can barely tell a guitar from a violin.
Buy used equipment
Just because you insist on using Ronald Susilo-grade badminton rackets when you play doesn’t mean you should get them for your kids. Children are fickle creatures, and you never know when they’re going to cast an erstwhile hobby aside and declare they never want to play again.
In addition, your child is also blissfully unaware of the fact that you had to give tuition to ten kids in the neighbourhood to pay for that guitar he “accidentally” smashed while pretending to be a rock star trashing a hotel room.
Unless your child is some kind of prodigy, refrain from buying brand new equipment, especially if it’s early days and he or she is still experimenting with a new interest.
You can save hundreds (or even thousands, in the case if pianos) of dollars by buying musical instruments such as flutes, guitars, violins, pianos and ukuleles on the second hand market. Many of my friends’ parents are stuck living with pianos nobody plays after their offspring abandoned the instrument after a few years of lessons.
Sports equipment such as balls and rackets are also much cheaper second hand, and quite serviceable for a child who plays recreationally. Heck, now that Carousell exists, you can find practically anything second hand, even if your kid’s new hobby is embalming corpses or building spaceships.
Steer the kid towards cheaper CCAs and hobbies
Honestly, some parents who complain about the high cost of their kids’ CCAs are just asking for it. After all, you don’t enrol your kid in a CCA like golf or sailing without anticipating future expenses. Even if your child’s primary school offers an expensive CCA at an affordable price, don’t forget that your child is going to leave the school at some point.
If you’re prepared to fork out the cash to continue letting your child play on golf courses, attend ballet classes, practise at the ice skating rink or rent boats for sailing years after he leaves primary or secondary school, then by all means go ahead.
But if you’re not sure you want to invest so much in your child’s hobbies, steer them towards more inexpensive alternatives. For instance, sports like soccer, swimming and badminton cost much less in the long run than golf, horse riding and sailing. CCAs like choir, drama and debate tend to be fairly inexpensive, while you can expect more exotic activities like flying or ice skating to cost more.
How much do you spend on your kids’ after school activities? Tell us in the comments!