Dear children

It has been 5 years since I wrote a post on teaching money skills (way back in 2013), and I thought it would be a good time to review it, check for updates and follow up on a habit I had instilled in you then.

When I reflect back, I think this way of budgeting had a very different impact on both of you. The ‘style’ worked more for one than the other. Back then, I remembered it was already a ‘challenge’ trying to get either of you to adhere to it. Intriguingly,  aspects of the style worked differently for either of you too – lesson takeaway here is no single system or style borrowed is foolproof and to one his or her own, one’s got to customise. As future parents, stay alert to your child’s personal style of managing.

[Updates: In future, children might not be using cash as a lifestyle anymore as increasingly, everyone is encouraged to use the card. However, values* stay the same so the amount of weekly school allowance (or stored value) can still use age as a guide (of course loop in the increase in canteen prices, as advised in the above article)

*comparison shopping, deferred gratification, setting money goals

A modification I might incorporate in the budgeting system is to simplify the categories to just ‘save and spend’, when the child is just starting out  Later, when a child’s reasoning ability has advanced, then a parent can incorporate other categories. So just follow a child’s pace of learning.

If you remember, the tracking of daily expenses was tedious. But it did cause you to self realise certain lifestyle spending patterns and habits, for example spending too much on  gifts, sweets or a particular food (I believe it was curry chicken then *chuckle*)

A slight word of caution here..when Mum taught this habit, it required a will of steel and great conviction to see it through. It did align with family values so the habit was sure to ‘stick’ in the long run. However, any ‘system’ to be implemented by a parent has to be easy to parent monitor and not be unpleasant or difficult for children to do.

Following up 10 years since we inculcated this habit in you – all are good!  One of you until recently was still tracking expenses (via a phone app) until you decided to pay all or most of your expenses by card – so all you had to do was examine the expenses on the summary sheet emailed to you. Another of you does not track but defers gratification quite a bit and is a very good saver. The ‘category’ system was a struggle for the other one of you too because it was simply ‘not your thing’.

I conclude the prudence and deferred gratification values have stuck after all these years: that is gratifying!

A takeaway lesson as a parent is it is still better to DO SOMETHING than not to do it if you believe with all your heart that there are certain family values and goals children should acquire and it should start early.

Another reflection I gain from this parenting experience is one must have the will and fervour to follow up on one’s goals. If one’s implementation is weak, no matter how best-desired one’s goals may be, even the most fervent resolves weaken over time.

However, when the parenting journey gets trying, one can pre-empt that and rally the troops ; that  ‘understanding aunty’, ‘funny uncle’, the ‘best teacher there is’, grandma or grandpa ‘who loves me the way I am’ , they can all support you in your parenting goals : there is a reason for the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’!

ASK for support: parenting is for (a) life (haha..pardon the quip here:)

I reiterate -doing something is better than NOT doing anything. After all these years, Mum has learnt to trust her intuition – if one has pondered it, it is worth carrying out. Remember that when you become parents!

Your loving mum