Having a car in Singapore is expensive. Having a family in Singapore is expensive as well. When you combine the two, budgeting can be a nightmare. While there are ways to keep your budget in check while providing for your family, there are some things that you should not skimp on. One of these things is ensuring your car is safe for your children. While you don't have to go out and buy luxury car seats and accessories to ensure your kid's safety, you do have to meet the minimum safety requirements and make sure your car is child-proof. Below, we outline some of the top ways you can keep your car safe for your child while still staying within your budget.
Understand the risks of not properly securing your child
Baby car seats can be cumbersome and you may think that you can do without them. However, this is not the case and you may end up paying for a lot more than you could've ever imagined if you don't properly restrain your child. Not only is it illegal and punishable by fine to not equip your child with a car seat until they are 1.35m tall, but it is extremely dangerous as well. In 2016, a research study was conducted regarding the causes of children head trauma in Singapore. This study found that more than 50% of children who suffered severe head trauma in a car crash were not properly restrained. This is an ongoing trend in Singapore, as this pattern was also evident in a 1999 pediatric injury study that showed that 84.5% of children who were hospitalised due to motor vehicle accidents were not restrained in any way.
Invest intelligently in your car seat
It may be tempting to buy a second-hand car seat from one of your friends whose child outgrew theirs. While second-hand car seats may help you save money, it also has some potential issues: it may be expired, may have been involved in a car crash or may not properly fit your car, all of which can lead to potentially dangerous outcomes.
There are several ways you can save on car seats and still ensure the safety of your child. First way is to budget for two car seats: an adjustable rear-facing one for the first 2-3 years and an adjustable front-facing one for later. Adjustable car seats may be an investment but they are cheaper in the long run compared to buying a new one every 1-2 years as your child grows. Second way is to consider switching to a harness once your child gets old enough. They cost a couple hundred dollars less than full car seats and are a good alternative if you find yourself carrying around a bulky car seat often. These harnesses are compliant with current car seat laws but are usually cheaper and easier to manage than their bulkier, full-seat counterparts. They will also come in handy when you have to take an Uber or Grab, as these companies legally require booster or child seats. Lastly, using a rewards credit cards to pay for your car seat can often help you save even more by earning cash rebates and miles.
Don't overspend on car seat accessories from third-party sellers
At the same time, you shouldn't feel like you have to overspend on accessories and fancy attachments to your car seat in order to get the most value. Most of these attachments are not crash-tested with the original seat, and are not proven to protect your child. Usually, a sturdy, highly rated car seat is enough, and buying accessories can do more harm than good. Also, you can consider spending less on entertainment for your kids while they're in the car. Excess clutter, even soft plush toys, can pose an unnecessary danger in the event of a crash as they can become projectiles.
Saving on car insurance doesn't have to forgo protection for your child
While it may be tempting to get a car insurance with the lowest cost and bare-bone benefits, you can still choose a policy that is affordable and still provides proper protection for your family. In fact, investing in a family friendly car insurance policy can save you money in the long run. When shopping around for car insurance, you should look at policies that include car seat protection, passenger accident and medical coverage and personal item coverage. This will help keep your costs low in the event of a car crash by covering your entire family's medical bills and paying for your damaged items like car seats. While you may think that car insurance plans that come with all of of these extra benefits come at premium, you'll be pleasantly surprised: family friendly car insurance can be quite affordable, costing less than S$1,000 for a married couple while providing tens of thousands of dollars in coverage.
Anticipate your future needs when buying a car
If you are in the market for a car, or looking to upgrade to a more family friendly one, you should keep in mind how your family will evolve and find a car that can evolve with it. To do so, you should keep an eye out for the number of seats available, safety features, how well it performs in crash safety tests. Additionally, you should try to anticipate the needs of your children when they get older: they'll want to participate in activities that require equipment, you should get a car with enough capacity to fit those equipments. This can prevent you from wasting thousands of dollars on a car that your family will outgrow in a couple of years and reduce the chance of having to sell your car to get one that fits your needs better.
This was first published at Value Penguin's website, "Top Ways to Save While Child-Proofing Your Car".