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5 Easy Ways to Save Money for Preschool (And Still Have Fun!)

by on 21/02/2013     4 2456

Babies are quite literally the physically manifestation of bundles of joy, happiness and all that is right with the world brought to existence.

After the first couple of years of coddling, gurgling and burping, your baby will eventually be ready for preschool classes.

What Happens in Preschool? 

Preschool is a stage of education dedicated to infants that have graduated from nursery school, but are not yet ready for kindergarten sessions. Like its name implies, preschool is designed to be an introductory phase designed to help your child prepare for schooling life. In preschool, kids are introduced to the concepts of alphabets, numbers, shapes and participate in social activities which will help them adapt to sharing space with other kids of similar ages.

The duration of preschool classes are much shorter than kindergarten classes, and it acts as a preview to what children can expect when they graduate into becoming fulltime kindergarten kids.

The main objective of preschooling your kid is to get them excited to attend school fulltime in the future, with the added brownie points of allowing Mom or Dad to have a couple hours of break time in between preschool sessions. While preschools are great fun and gifts your child with an added advantage in the schooling aspect of their lives, most Malaysian parents opt to skip preschool altogether simply because preschooling can be downright expensive. 

How Much Does It Cost?

As the cost of living in the country rises, so does the cost of raising a child. Schooling fees can range from RM300 per month at a local preschool up to over RM4,000 per month at much more exclusive expat preschools, not including additional quarterly fees that must be paid for maintenance, stationery and special preschool events. On average, most Malaysian parents are expected to spend approximately RM5,000 on preschooling alone every year. With the added cost of diapers, toys, clothing and milk powder, the idea of having another baby can sadly start to look like a pretty bad financial decision. 

The key to comfortably affording preschool classes and still be able to pay off loan commitments lies in planning ahead and thinking creatively when it comes to how the whole family unit can save money as a whole. The good news is that saving and planning ahead for your precious baby’s preschooling days will not only help you to play a more active role in your child’s life but will also bring the family closer together as you work towards a common financial goal together. 

Tip 1: Be a Masterchef

Dining out can take up a large chunk of your monthly home earnings. On average, a humble meal eaten outside typically cost around RM20 per person, which can total up to RM1,200 spent on food for a family of two every month. For coffee lovers, purchasing a cup of hand crafted coffee everyday for a month can set you back by an average of RM420 as well, not including the pastry and parking ticket that will eventually accompany your cup of java. Now that a little baby has been included in the family, consider turning breakfast, lunch and dinner into a home cooked affair.

Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of healthy, delicious recipes that can be easily replicated in any kitchen. If you have an aversion to cooking, see if you can fob off the task to your better half instead or better yet, let cooking time be a newfound hobby the both of you can do together. When done right, eating at home 6 days a week will save you at least RM1,300 every month.

Tip 2: Never Pay Full Price Ever Again

Why pay premium price for anything when there are plenty of group discount vouchers available on the Internet? Take advantage of this new form of business model by purchasing vouchers for meals, trips and presents on sites like Groupon and MyDeal which usually offer discounts of 70% to 80% off the retail pricing. With Christmas coming up pretty soon, these sites are a great way of gifting your loved ones with meaningful presents minus the hefty price tag.

Another pro-tip to keep in mind though that these discount sites can also get pretty addictive, so be sure to stick to an allocated budget every month and refrain from impulse purchasing as all transactions made are not refundable.

Tip 3: Be the Baby Whisperer

Most modern families consist of dual-income earners, which mean that most young parents are struggling with the art of time management, especially when it comes to collecting, clothing and feeding their children. Rather than contribute to the jam of parents lining up to pick up their kids from school, consider starting up a mini babysitting service instead where you can earn an extra couple of hundred Ringgit every month simply by helping other parents handle their kids a few days a week. An added bonus to this arrangement would be that it would offer your baby even more opportunity to befriend other classmates as well.

Tip 4: Incentives and Tax Breaks

Some employers do offer childcare benefits to their workers, so be sure to check with your Human Resources (HR) department on the kind of offerings available to employees with children. Some common benefits offered by multinational companies include childcare vouchers and access to workplace nurseries. Similarly, Malaysian parents also enjoy RM1,000 tax relief for each child aged 18 and below.

According to the latest Budget 2013 announcement, single unmarried individuals aged 21 and above with take home earnings less than RM2,000 per month are also eligible for a payment of RM250. Families with single-income earners can also claim an extra RM400 rebate (for the non-working spouse) whereas Malaysian citizens with a chargeable income less than RM35,000 will also be awarded with a rebate of RM400. When done right, new families with a baby can save up to RM1,800 a year even without having to save!

Tip 5: Old is Gold

Thanks to the invention of Pinterest, anyone can craft and upcycle second-hand childhood toys into something beautiful for their baby. Unlike preteens, babies have no need for the latest iPad model or phone with 3G technology installed, and will love you just the same even if their recycled teddy bear is old enough to belong in a museum. If you’re too shy to ask or accept hand-me-downs from friends and family members, consider shopping on sites like eBay for cheaper baby items instead such as clothing items and accessories. Do note though that the one baby item you should never save on is baby car seats, as it is quite impossible to tell if a seat purchased second-hand is free of any defects.

Now that you can easily afford to pay for preschool for your baby, why not keep up these effortless saving tips so you can start up a college fund, too?