Even though these programmes cost a small fortune, you can save money on enrichment classes without sacrificing quality.
The June school holidays are a good time to ease off the tuition and let your children have fun with enrichment classes in Singapore. Whether it’s fencing, painting, or music classes, these programmes can be pricey, with rates reaching over S$100 a day for some short courses.
Here are some ways you can save money on enrichment classes while still giving your children the best.
See If Your Child’s Preschool Works with an Enrichment Centre
This happens surprisingly often, although it should be an obvious thing to check. Quite often, enrichment centres will tie in with schools, particularly preschools in Singapore. Students of the relevant school will be offered their courses at a sizeable discount.
So if you are sending your child for painting lessons, fencing lessons, and so forth, check if one is offered by their existing school. Sometimes, you will find that the enrichment provider is the same one; going directly to them just means paying more!
Unless for some reason, you specifically want your child to go to their enrichment centre.
Take Advantage of Referral Bonuses
Many enrichment courses will have a referral bonus, such as sign-ups where you can bring a friend for free. Try to tie up with other parents, so you can share the benefits of these freebies. In addition, it helps if your children are shy. Bringing their friends means they will already have a group they’re comfortable with.
If you have more than one child, but they are of different ages or have different interests (and hence will not be enrolled in the same course), ask if you can have a discount on another course / workshop, in lieu of the “refer a friend” discount.
Verify the Exact Location of Classes and Workshops
Don’t assume that the enrichment company holds all workshops and courses on their premises. In fact, many of these companies do not, and instead book other venues to run their programmes.
This can mean significant transport costs, if you don’t check the location first. You might be signing up at an enrichment centre in Bedok, but discover the holiday programme is somewhere in Jurong. Not only will the transport costs be higher, it can be inconvenient to use public transport if your child needs to bring a lot of equipment (it’s hard to lug a cello on a train).
Also, note that some enrichment courses take place in more than one location (there may be visits to a zoo or pottery farm, for example). Remember to factor the transport costs of travelling to and from these places, if transport is not provided by the enrichment company.
You May Save More By Paying for Equipment Provided
Some enrichment courses require specialist equipment, such as airbrushes or palettes. It is usually a good deal to pay a little more, if the equipment is provided and your children can take it home. This is because most enrichment companies have ongoing deals with retailers who give them a bulk discount on beginner equipment.
If you want a cheaper option, such as purchasing your children’s equipment on your own, make sure you know the subject the well! It’s easy to get ripped off if you are buying musical instruments without knowing how to play them, or to be pressured into buying things you don’t actually need.
Alternatively, you can compare the benefits of buying the equipment directly with your credit card – if you have an optimised reward system, you could save more that way. One method is to ask the enrichment centre what brands or models they are using, and consider the cashback or rewards points of purchasing it yourself.
For Workshops, Don’t Forget to Factor in Food Costs
If the enrichment course is a two or three-day workshop, don’t forget to factor in food. If it’s not catered, your children will need to find their own meals. Depending on location, it might be cheaper to pack their lunches for them.
If the location of the workshop is in town (one common example is the Arts House), the eateries in the surrounding area tend to be quite pricey. You might be better off packing some sandwiches for them, unless you are braced for $15 to $20 lunches in the central areas.
If the enrichment workshop is catered for, check that’s the food provided is acceptable to your children.
Check the Acceptable “Time to Pick Up”
Always check how long the enrichment centre can look after your children before you arrive to pick them up. This is something parents tend to overlook, which often results in last-minute taxi fares.
Some enrichment centres have strict policies about how long their kids can wait, to prevent them being turned into “free” childcare services. You may think you have 30 or 45 minutes to come and pick up your child, only to receive a phone call saying the enrichment class instructor is leaving in five minutes.
Save yourself a last minute Uber or taxi fare, as well as the resulting panic.
Build a Good Relationship with the Enrichment Centre
If you’ve signed your kids up for more than one course or workshop, do make it known to the enrichment centre. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on the next one. There are also some situations in which an enrichment company cannot fill every seat at a workshop, and may invite your children to sit in for free.
The key is to make it known to the company, especially if there isn’t an official loyalty scheme.
Manage Your Payments with the Right Credit Card
Some credit cards offer 0% interest instalment plans for large, well-established enrichment and tuition centres. This varies between the cards, so you may have to call your issuing bank to check. While you may end up paying the course’s full fee, you can spread payments over several months, which frees up your cash for other expenses.
If your chosen enrichment centre isn’t part of an instalment plan, you can use a cash rebate credit card like the OCBC Cashflo MasterCard. When you make a purchase that costs at least S$100, the card automatically splits it into 3- or 6-month 0% interest instalments. You even earn a 1% rebate if your monthly bill exceeds S$1,000.
With these credit cards, the priciest enrichment programmes become a little more affordable, allowing your child to get the best education without affecting your household budget.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.