Parents spend thousands of rands on keeping their children engaged. Luckily, there are ways to avoid running through your cash when times get tough, writes Angelique Ruzicka.
1. Rent the equipment first
Before blowing your Christmas budget on the latest electronic device, get your child to agree to rent an item first.
This will help you to gauge if they will make use of the item enough for you to buy it.
The last thing you want to do is buy something brand new only to find that it’s gathering dust on a shelf a few weeks later.
Teljoy offers televisions, laptops, cellphones and other gadgets such as PlayStations and Xboxes to rent.
Teljoy says this option helps people avoid unnecessary debt, and it offers full protection of not only the devices but their credit life. Rentals start at R89 a month.
2. Find cheap entertainment
Johannesburg-based wealth coach Tanya Haffern has daughters aged nine and 12, and she recommends spending time outdoors as much as possible instead of engaging with gadgets.
“Buy a trampoline from a second-hand shop for hours of fun with a side benefit of fitness. Splash in the pool.
"If you don’t have one, head to your public pool – it costs about R10 for adults and R6 for children. Most public pools are surprisingly well maintained.”
If you need to do something inside on a rainy day that doesn’t involve gadgets, consider teaching your children some card games.
“Card games teach basic counting and communication skills. Play board games as a family. Learn how your children deal with losing and how quickly they grasp new concepts,” suggests Haffern.
3. Restrict access
According to the National Institute of Health in the US, youngsters spend an average of five to seven hours looking at screens during their spare time, but too much gaming could also affect your medical costs in the future.
According to a new study by San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge and University of Georgia psychology professor W. Keith Campbell, too much time spent on gaming, smartphones and watching television is linked to heightened levels and diagnosis of anxiety or depression in children as young as two.
Dedicate the hours that would’ve been taken up by screen time to do something that the entire family can get involved in.
“Undivided attention is fast becoming the most priceless gift of all. Put all your devices away every evening over dinner and spend focused time with your children. That doesn’t cost a thing!” says Haffern.
4. Be careful of ‘freemium’ games
Your teenager or child may brag about the fact that they can download games for free.
It’s true that app stores have become dominated by freemium games, but the danger is not in the download – it lies in all those in-app purchases to progress to another level or get more weapons/coins.
In some cases, you also have to pay if you want ad-free versions of the game.
Keep in mind that Fortnite, one of the biggest online games, is owned by Tencent, the Chinese company that makes up a large percentage of Naspers’ share price. Why do you think the company is doing so well?
Make sure you understand the costs of the games before your let your children play.
5. Look for deals or cash in rewards
It’s not only games and gadgets that can put a strain on our finances – teenagers and children also demand to be taken out for meals, to the movies, to the beach and to theme parks.
Petrol, parking fees and the actual cost of the entertainment (food and drinks) all add up.
If going out as an occasional treat is unavoidable for your family, see if you can save while you’re at it.
There are plenty of group-buying websites that offer deals – try Hyperli, Wikideals, Daddy’s Deals and DealZone.
Alternatively, make use of your rewards points/systems that you belong to.
Discovery Vitality kids members, for instance, can watch movies for free if they are between the ages of two and 18, as long as the movie starts before 7pm.
Meanwhile, Edgars Club card members can save up to 50% on two movie tickets every day at Ster-Kinekor.