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Raising a child is a joyful and meaningful experience, but is also one fraught with challenging choices. All parents want the very best for their children, and that means a good deal of important decision making.

With the new year, it’s time to plan for your family’s future! Here are some of the difficult choices that you have to make while raising your child:

A Priority on Play or Preparation

Asian parents have placed greater emphasis on extra tuition and enrichment classes for decades. Famous ‘Tiger Mums’ like author Amy Chua have made the case that preparation and focus is crucial and ultimately beneficial for children. Parents need to do the most for the child to reach their fullest academic potential.

Global discussions on parenting styles, however, have prompted many parents to re-examine traditional and cultural expectations of childhood learning. They have also realised the equal importance of play as more scientific research shows an important link between play and the development of cognitive and social skills in children.

But what if your child falls behind on crucial subjects and never catches up? Recently, there is a growing group of scientists and education experts saying that parents should not worry about this. They say pushing young children into formal, teacher-led and didactic instruction (typically more common for higher grades) could have a negative effect, perhaps even souring children’s desire to learn.

What could be helpful for parents?

Remember that play and learning go hand-in-hand. Keep them intertwined and keep things as balanced as you can! Scientists also say that stressful learning and playtime is counterproductive. “The more stress hormones swarm children’s brains, the less likely they are to succeed intellectually,” says brain scientist and molecular biologist John Medina.

Screen time: Yes or No

So many parents agonise over screen time as part of the challenges of modern parenting.

Some parents insist that parenting without screens is incredibly do-able, interesting and ultimately rewarding for their children. Some urge the use of creativity, art and imagination to keep the little ones from turning into ‘phone zombies’.

Others would argue that modern lifestyles (sometimes without help and a traditional ‘village’ or support systems), different children’s temperaments, and increased expectations on stressed out mums make it unfair to judge parents who sometimes choose to deploy the iPad or phones.

What could be helpful for parents?

Parents who have depended on screens could perhaps try to balance things out by trying out new ways to keep their children occupied, and to prioritise time and activity outdoors as much as possible. Parents who have judged others can perhaps remember that no one ever knows what another parent has gone through or is experiencing. Whatever you decide for your children, remember that balance with all things is key. Sometimes it’s not the what, but how!

Your Family’s Health: Protecting Your Child

When you are a parent, your child’s safety and health comes first. But what if something were to happen to your unborn child or baby? Malaysia’s public healthcare system is comprehensive and heavily subsidised, but due to the higher number of patients there are issues such as overcrowding and a longer wait.

Private hospitals have their advantages, but hospitalisation bills can be very high, sometimes running into over five figures. It’s all very costly, as mother Nadeeya Zahari found out.

Her son Arif was born with a congenital heart defect and had to undergo a heart operation that cost RM40,000.

“Due to his heart condition and operation, we can’t find an insurance policy to cover his medical health. Not at least until he is 6 to 7 years old and confirmed as healthy by his doctor. As such we will have to rake up our own money if anything happens between now and then,” she said.

Nadeeya and her family figured they would have saved a lot of money had they taken an insurance policy for their son early on. But is there an insurance policy that can cover your baby against illnesses and accidents throughout their childhood?

What could be helpful for parents?

Parents can consider a comprehensive pre-natal insurance policy like PRUMy Child Plus for the mother and her unborn baby during pregnancy. This comprehensive policy is not only equipped with the prenatal, critical illness, medical, accidental and payor coverage parents would want for their children, it also protects their baby as early as 14 weeks into pregnancy.

It includes coverage for newborns, such as neonatal jaundice as well as other congenital conditions up to age 5 years old. This would be reassuring for parents, as jaundice is a common condition, affecting approximately 60 per cent of newborns.

Importantly, PRUMy Child Plus is also the first pre-natal policy in the market that covers IVF pregnancies. This is significant and meaningful as IVF treatments become more popular, with worldwide statistics showing that one in seven couples suffers from infertility.

This comprehensive prenatal coverage will not only provide new parents with the financial freedom and peace of mind, there is also Easy and Simple Enrolment (EASE) for policy owners to cover their next pregnancy.  If a mother already has a fully underwritten PRUMy Child Plus policy while she was first pregnant and is still healthy, she can easily cover her next pregnancy without having her medical history and eligibility evaluated again. The EASE process makes things smooth and simple, a boon for busy parents.

 

By Nellie Liang

 

This is a sponsored post presented by Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad.

For more information on PRUMy Child Plus, download the brochure here.


Promotion for a limited period (Until 31 March 2019)

Parents who purchase PRUMy Child Plus now and add on the critical illness rider (Essential Child Plus and/or Crisis Care) will get:

  • 50% additional coverage (sum assured) for 3 years for free
  • 50% additional critical illness coverage (for Essential Child Plus rider) for 3 years for free
  • The option to convert to permanent coverage with no questions asked in the policy’s third year. This can be done via smartphone!

Financial Plans

Along with their adorableness, babies can also stress their parents out. Besides sleepless nights and their first fever, they add an entirely new list of costs to family budgets: diapers, clothing, milk bottles – the list can seem endless, especially for first-time parents.

Imoney.com estimates that it will cost up to RM24,500 to raise a baby in the first year. But having a baby doesn’t have to break the bank. Here’s how you can plan ahead financially to make sure that your baby gets the best without going over budget:

Question 1: How do we save more money?

Sure, you can choose to spend money on all the extras, but they aren’t necessary. Here are some ideas on how you can save more money:

  • Buy less baby gear. Check out our Baby Goods Musts and Skips for an idea of what mothers have found essential and non-essential in baby’s first year.
  • Consider breastfeeding. Mothers that breastfeed end up saving a ton of money on formula.
  • Pick gender-neutral items. If you opt for neutral colors for your firstborn, there’s a better chance you can use the  items again with any future children.
  • Go for the convertible gear. For instance, buy just a crib that turns into a toddler bed.
  • Embrace hand-me-down or buy used. Babies grow out of their clothes and get tired of their toys quickly. If you don’t mind gently-used baby items, check out Facebook groups like PrelovedMy and KLmomsSwapAndShop.
  • Take advantage of sales. Hypermarkets and baby expos often offer promotions on diapers, formula and other essential items so keep your eyes open for them. Alternatively, you can download the SmartShopper Malaysia app on your mobile devices.

Question 2: What types of insurance packages should we buy? And how might it help us save money in the long run?

According to Ravi Kumar, Senior Wealth Consultant at RK Group, new parents should consider Investment Linked Policies. It encompasses medical, life cover and savings, which are tied to a unit trust and comes with a medical card. This would help families save in the long run because from your monthly premiums, some portion also goes to the savings; this amount can be tailored on the percentages of how much goes towards the savings and on the life, medical and critical illness cover. The important point is that you are insured in every way possible so that if you happen to have a medical bill you don’t have to take money out from your savings to pay for it.

Question 3: Do families receive any tax reliefs or exemptions?

According to iMoney.my, parents are provided with these following annual assistance and tax reliefs:

  • Schooling assistance for school-going children (primary and secondary) – RM100 per child
  • 1Malaysia Book Voucher – RM100 per child
  • Child relief – RM1,000 (only for one of the parent)
  • Child education policy – RM3,000 (for both parents)
  • Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Malaysia (SSPN) – RM3,000 (for both parents)

Question 4: How can we save for our children’s future university fees?

The cost of a child’s university fees will differ depending on the desired course and university of choice. A private university will cost more than double of a government university. It isn’t easy determining the exact cost of fees as it may change over the years. But, it’s always good to have an estimate on how much it may cost and how much you can save up until that moment. Many experienced parents have suggested investing in a promising project whether it’s real estate, a company and so on. Even the smallest investment can go a long way over the years to come.

In Malaysia, financial aid is offered to students, so new parents may feel at ease knowing this. Yet experienced parents have suggested that cutting back on the little things and luxuries can help save a lot of money for your child’s college/university education in the long run.

Question 5: Where do we need to cut back in order to save more?

Parents should start cutting back in advance, before the baby is born. For example, eating out less saves money or streaming movies is a low-cost alternative to heading out to the cinema.

When the baby is born, avoid purchasing unnecessary items. We all want the best for our kids but mothers have shared from experience that they have spent excessive amounts on baby items that they end up using only once. Breastfeeding is another tip that experienced mother’s have suggested new parents consider in order to save money – because you cut back on expensive formulas.

Question 6: Can we survive on one income?

It’s definitely a hard decision to make, to raise a family on one income. It is usually by mutual choice or forced upon as a result of layoffs and so on. But from what we’ve gathered, it’s do-able.

In order to survive on one income, couples need to have a mutual understanding on savings and budgets. A family on one income may be limited to certain things, but surviving is possible provided they understand where they might need to cut back – electricity, expensive groceries, living in an expensive neighbourhood, etc. Living on one income would mean having to save more and having to sacrifice more for the future.

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Image Credit: iStockphoto.