Saturday, February 22, 2014

Money lessons - teaching my kids about money

For the first time, I took Brendan to the ATM. That was sometime last month, to deposit his money, of which, half of it was collected from his school under the govt incentive for school children. 

I do not give my kids pocket money to school most of the time as they prefer to bring food from home. They are times when I'd give them some money to buy things from school so they can have the feel of having money in their hands and be in control of the things that they buy.

Brendan is a very cost-saving boy. He is careful in spending unnecessarily. He used to pester me to bring him to the bank to bank in his money, even if it's just a few ringgit. I've since set a rule that if he needs to bank in money into his savings account, he will have to wait til he has at least a RM100 to make our trip to the nearest ATM machine more worthwhile.

I instill the importance of savings in my children when they were very young. It works most of the time. But Eryn doesn't seem to follow it consistently yet.

Here are my money tips which I found useful. It may not go well with some but it worked for me. 

1. No pampering even if they whine and cry and kick a big fuss out of it.
When Eryn was in preschool, she would kick a fuss about not having that pretty doll that she wanted when we were in the supermarket, or in shopping malls. When she started school, she would sometimes use her pocket money (if she was given) and buy junk food. Brendan, being the rather reasonable one will tell her that we have some snacks at home and that it is always more expensive and unhealthy to buy these stuffs in school. I’m glad they have now grow up to be wise and reasonable when it comes to spending. We do pamper them occasionally in our own ways like getting them what they’ve wanted – that pretty hairband, the  storybook they’ve been eyeing for, that nice pencil box, etc. At times, they may not get what they want, but a clear explanation and an alternative to what they want sets the message clear.

2. Learning from example. My kids have observed from us parents that we do not necessary have to have something just because someone is having it. They used to want everything their friends have – playstation, x-box, branded toys, tons of Barbie dolls or toy cars, Ipads and many more. Eryn still loves Barbie dolls and she treasure her 3 dolls very much which is not sitting in the dark. Brendan has stopped demanding for whatever IT gadgets and is so contented with just having the computer at home to play his online games. Once in a blue moon, we do surprise them with things which their friends get so easily. To them, they know that to have these things require certain hard work from the parents. After all, we are just average income-earners, and now that both of us are in our own business, things do get a little tough at times, and we have learn to live and be content with what we have.

3. Opening a kids savings account and setting goals.This is a must have for my children. I have three forms of savings account. One, which is the bank junior savings account which is for their long term savings plan. Two, is their piggy bank which they can take up to buy anything they might like with our approval (so far they have not used it except for losing a book in school). The last one is a wallet for each of them to keep their money for school pocket money. You may not believe this, but my kids only ask for RM1 for pocket money, that is if they need it. And in a month, I have never ever given them more than RM5, all because they never need it. I do set aside a certain amount which I’ll bank into their savings account for being so prudent, and without their knowledge. They each have a goal in wanting to buy something within a certain time frame. So far, they have not decided to use it yet.

4. Reward and wages. “You need to work for It”. Occasionally,my  kids do get rewarded in things that they do. And these rewards may or may not come in monetary form. It can be a simple holiday trip which most people take for granted. My kids know that a trip is an extremely rewarding thing they would ever have. An outing to my kids favourite steamboat barbeque buffet is much appreciated. As we do not eat out in expensive places most of the time, things like this tend to make them more appreciative and not take things for granted. Think about it. Look at some children around you when you go to a restaurant.. It may be a normal outing for some, it may be a privilege for some.

5.The power of compounding. MY kids know that there is such a thing as inflation and the power of compounding. Well, not so much on Eryn but Brendan understands the power of compounding. The earlier you save, the more you earn. The more you save, the higher your savings would get in later years. They don’t know how exactly it works but let’s just say that it is through our live experiences and observations that my kids learn from.

I encourage my children to save. I help them to set goals and do up a simple dreamboard. I bring them outside and enjoy nature – hiking, cycling, evening walk. And in the midst of these activities, there are things I can observe from their characters. It also get them thinking on issues on life.

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