Young Parents Team
1. DO SOME DETECTIVE WORK
Check with parent support groups or visit the school canteen yourself to gauge the “market price” for food and drinks there. “Only you will know your child’s appetite and how much he can eat or drink in one sitting,” says housewife Amy Chak, 35, who has two daughters aged 13 and eight. Calculate accordingly, so that you do not go under- or over-budget.
2. SPEND WITHIN MEANS
With this appropriate budget, teach your child about making wise food choices and learn to set aside small amounts as savings. “My kids are turning 12 and nine, so it’s high time they learnt about small sacrifices. Giving up a packet drink at the canteen to drink from the water cooler is a small lesson about saving 50 cents a day,” says procurement manager Kaw Sin Boon, 39.
Related: Should you give your child an allowance?
3. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY “It doesn’t happen often, but when my eight-year-old forgets her wallet, she knows to go straight to her form teacher to ask for some recess money. Strictly no asking her classmates,” says marketing consultant Kelly Khoo, 41. Her reasoning is simple: Most of her daughter’s classmates would also be on a set allowance with little cash to spare. Besides, misunderstandings over money matters could occur. “It’s better just to go to the form teacher, who would then SMS to inform me about it.”
4. TRACK SPENDING (AND DIET) DAILY “Having my eight-year- old write down what he ate and how much each dish costs allow us to know he’s not spending his allowance frivolously on other things such as knick-knacks from the stationery shop,” says assistant creative director Michael de Souza, 34. You’ll also know if your child is eating healthily or spending his recess money on unhealthy snacks.
Related: Pocket money: teach your child to manage it well
5. SPECIAL CASES Children with food allergies or special dietary restrictions should not feel left out during recess. “We’re vegetarians and my 11-year-old daughter is allergic to wheat,” says housewife Julie Paneer, 45. “Her allowance is budgeted, so she can enjoy a packet drink together with her home-made snack box. She’s still able to socialise and take a break together with her classmates.”