Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Money Sense

Now that my first born is in Primary school and we have started giving him pocket money, this issue on teaching my children about the value of money becomes more relevant than ever. 

Since I was a kid, I have been very careful with my money. It certainly has a lot to do with how my parents raised us, but I think my personality must play a part too.

When we were in Primary school (aged 7 - 12), my parents used to give my siblings and I daily pocket money instead of weekly allowance. I believe the main reason was to prevent us from splurging it all the very moment we got them. 

That was what E used to do. He would run out of the house, straight to the first candy store and spend the entire week allowance on an assortment of sweets and comics! :) 

I remember getting only 80 cents per day even when I was 12 to spend on snack food/drinks at the school canteen and stationery store if we ever need something. No money on weekends or any special days, except for the Ang Pow money we received during the Chinese New Year. 

Even with just $4 a week, I was able to save close to half of that amount every month. With no intention to spend it on anything in particular. I just saved it for rainy days because I didn't need to spend it. 

Once a year, my dad would count the change and tell me how much I had saved and the sum was deposited into my bank account. My sister was just like me, accumulating her little wealth from our meagre sum of allowances. Actually she saved even more than me, if I remember correctly, as for a few years, she was known as the miser in the family. 

It was a different story with my brothers who spent every penny they had in the canteen. To them, the money was given to be spent. If they were not spent on food, they headed to the small mama shops (neighbourhood shops) to buy stickers and lollipops on the way home.

Like my family, there were savers and spenders among E and his siblings.

The thing is, these very habits of being mindful of the value of money, money management and saving for rainy days remain with us all even when we entered adulthood. 

The ones who were never mindful of savings before are more of a spendthrift by the time they started earning their own keep. Or maybe they are just plain generous with their money. The savers continue to think thrice before treating themselves with their hard-earned money.

As a parent now, naturally, I want my boys to appreciate early enough the value of money and to realize what count as necessary expenses versus the frivolous wants. 

But I also want them to know that it is fine to give themselves a little treat now and again, as long as they don't overspend. In fact, it should be encouraged, as I believe it is tied to the development of self-worth. 

The night before M's first day of school, I was showing him his wallet and all the compartments. Noting that only the coin compartment was filled, M made a few suggestions. 

'Mummy, how about putting a few hundred dollars into here?' (pointing at the note compartment). 

'These are for cards, right? Can you also put my credit card in here please, so I won't forget tomorrow?' 




Alice Law said...

I personally think aside from up bringing, it also depends very much on individual personality and character. I found boys have least conscience for money than girl during school days, my brothers too hardly know how to manage their money efficiently compared to me and my younger sister. But boys are late bloomers, as they grow older and more matured they would be more cautious with their money(fingers crossed).

I'd prefer to give my girl weekly allowance, just want to see how good she manages her money. If she finished her money before the weekend, it won't bother me too as that is what she decided and she should take the consequences(for no money for her weekend goodies), with my advices I hope she'll learn her lesson to be wiser with her money. Just my 2 cents!^-^

Domesticgoddess said...

I agree that girls do mature earlier, hence more likely to be able to delay gratification and consider the consequences than boys at this young age.

I will not give my boys a weekly allowance just yet. My main objectives are for my boys to learn the value of money and realize the benefits of saving and not spending unnecessarily, which can be achieved with daily pocket money.

Budgeting can come later when they are older, maybe in upper primary level.

MamaJ said...

Heeheee, M's suggestions made me smile! But I agree about having a balance, in saving, and yet also spending some, and perhaps using some on others as well. Its tough! But I think our culture now is pushing kids to spending more. Then, Macdonald's was just a treat when we were in Sec Sch, now Macs seems to be the norm... and teenagers seem to be able to afford regular drinks at Coffee Bean, lunches at Cafe Cartel and the like!

I think you're doing a great job, and daily pocket money is probably more easy to manage for the boys now!

Kiasu Mom said...

I come from a family of 3 girls. My eldest is the wisest in terms of saving, I was a late bloomer and my youngest the worst. At 26 she has very little savings (I would consider it as NONE) compared to what my sis and I had at that age. So I don't think gender plays a big part. It's all in the personality and character of a person and also the environment.

But I do agree that it is something we have to teach from young. As whether to give weekly or daily allowance, I would like to try both and see how my kids would manage. I believe every kid is different and I am quite open to that approach. I still remember when I was young that I would get weekly allowance and I love seeing my piggy bank with lots of money and that encouraged me not to simply spend :-)

KoLe said...

Hi DG,

Happy New Year
(ya.. I know it's a bit late..)

I am sure M is loving school.

Domesticgoddess said...

Hi MamaJ, I think so too. I like the idea that my boys use their savings to help the less fortunate, but that will come a bit later after they have saved a little first. :>

I know what you mean about the kind of expenditures that young people can afford these days. Unfortunately the peer pressure makes it harder for most young people to resist such temptations. It just means we parents have to work harder at instilling the right values.

Domesticgoddess said...

kiasumom, I know some girlfriends with almost no savings too. It certainly has a lot to do with the individual and environmental factors.

When my kids are older, they will get weekly allowance so they can learn money management and plan for their expenses. But at this age, it is safer for them to be given small amounts, hence daily pocket money. Young children with more money than others can easily be made targets for bullying.


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