LifestylePersonal Finance

Why is no-one talking about the cost of all these kids’ birthday parties and weekend activities?

On any given weekend, my family budget is taking a massive hit. Whether it is a child’s birthday party, a piano lesson, or a taekwondo class, the kids’ activities are absolutely mothballing my wallet.

When we first decided to have children, family and friends mentioned the need to save for our future children’s education; because school fees and university tuition can be major life expenses. This is good advice, and everyone should hear it. However, what nobody thought to tell us, was that the day to day cost of hobbies, sports, and social activities, would also come as a great shock. Kids’ activities are expensive, and they are incessant.

When you have a child at school, it can sometimes feel like they are invited to a birthday party every weekend. Then there are all the extracurricular activities, and the options on offer seem to grow every week. Kids these days aren’t just doing music and sports, they have coding clubs, chess clubs, art classes, language lessons. For families with multiple children, the cost pain is multiplied, sometimes many times over. It can therefore be an absolute juggle to balance supporting your child’s interests and social activities, while meeting your regular living expenses.

There are certain peak periods when family expenses seem heavier…Christmas is a classic example and many families manage this expensive season with buy-now, pay-later services that are available in some stores.

Yet there are also other peak expense seasons for families that no-one seems to talk about. I’ve learned that the start of each school term, not just the first term, is horrendously expensive. This is because many kids’ activities require bulk upfront payments that can run into the hundreds of dollars. If families have several children or several activities, it can soon run into the thousands. Likewise, if you host a child’s birthday party these days, expect to pay in the hundreds of dollars just to take a handful of kids to the bowling alley, the movies, or an amusement park.

For families who are mindful managers of money, traditional credit cards might not be their first option to pay for kids’ activities. At the same time, in store buy-now, pay-later isn’t typically an option for these kinds of purchases. Luckily, some companies have started to notice this gap in the market, and parents are learning that there are new payment options available to help manage these expenses.

Citi, for example, is now offering an instalment service with different payment options on all of their credit cards. This means once you have made a purchase, through the click of a few buttons in the app, you can convert this to a series of smaller payments at a pre-determined interest rate. These features give customers the ability to organise and control the repayment schedules of individual purchases, while retaining the power, reach and reliability of a regular credit card. Several of these Citi cards not only have instalment options, they also have popular features such as the ability to earn Qantas points and do balance transfers.

When it comes to paying for things like birthday parties, swimming lessons, and soccer registrations, credit cards are usually an accepted form of payment. So with a credit card that also offers instalment plans, the great advantage is that parents can plan and control the repayment schedule of each individual purchase.

More options for parents to manage and control these ‘hidden’ costs of childhood is a welcome thing!

Of course, such a card can still be used for the usual things like Christmas shopping, birthday presents, and buying that jumpsuit that you need right now. Either way, given the consumer demand for instalment plans, or buy now pay later, these days, it is not surprising that someone thought to combine the manageability of a payment plan, with the reach of a credit card.

Find out more about Citibank instalment plan cards here.

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