Friday, January 08, 2021

The competitive edge that my parents imparted to me

Having written about how my competitive edge as a parent is in my last post here, I now flipped my perspective around. What skills or values had my own parents imparted to me so that I gain something that will help me in my life?

When I first thought of this question, I wondered how to answer this. I don't really know the answer right away. As I am writing this post, I still don't know how I'll answer, so this exploratory writing will hopefully shed more insights. One of the most important reasons I came back to blogging is that writing allows me to converse with myself, thus clarifying my thoughts. 

My parents are atypical. They don't work in offices and hold no titles, and had been self-employed a large part of their life. My dad stopped working when I'm very young because of health issues and it's my mum who had to put food on the table, so to speak. So she hustled and done many kinds of gigs, all the while taking care of the family. A large part of my character is moulded just by observing and seeing how she handles the adversity of life.

One of the most important things she imparted to me is about money. She didn't sit me down and lecture me about finance 101, so what I learned was by purely by observation and inference. My mum gave me a very little amount of pocket money so I had to be careful with my money and I guess I've always been careful with money since young because of that. She did something right (and I'm going shamelessly copy her when teaching my own kid), which is to give a whole month's worth of pocket money to me. If I didn't keep a watchful eye and did not budget my pocket money carefully, I'll have more days than money near the end of the month. I'm proud of the fact that this had never happened to me before in my many years of experience as a 'money manager'. I think it's because I've been handling my own money pretty young and I've learnt to budget at a young age, albeit unconsciously, that this habit gets stuck throughout my adult life. There are some money lessons that I have to unlearn in the course of adulthood but the foundation of spending less than what I earn is like engraved in me.

My parents work from home and it's not often that they are not around. So I get to see them very often. I used to hate it that my parents are always around at home when I was younger because I don't like that my parents are constantly watching and nagging me in a way that parents always do. But when I'm older, I realised this arrangement is not common at all. Most parents are working in offices and are not around. I guess I learnt two things from here. Firstly, it's okay to work from home. I've no bias against people working from home and had no wish for any bombastic official designation, like directors, executives etc. These empty titles hold no meaning to me. Hence looking back, it seems that I'm primed to be a full-time tutor. The similarity between my parent's stay-at-home self-employment and doing their own hustling is too uncannily similar to mine as a tutor. Secondly, I can take care of my family and work at home at the same time. I don't have to follow the traditional gender role of a father earning money while the mother takes charge of the family. My mum pays the bills AND take care of the family, as such, I have an excellent role model to follow. So I shall and so I did. 

It's not all roses though, so where are the thorns? I made a wishlist of things that I hope my parents could have imparted to me but did not. However, this is not an exercise to find fault and assign blame. I take full responsibility for my own personal development. Still, I could have shaved a few years off my own circuitous road to learn the things I know now. Here's the list:

1) How to grow my money besides working and saving hard. It took me a long time to know such a concept. Things like property investment, stocks investment, or any other kind of investments.

2) The concept of insurance. Again, I took a circuitous, probably expensive route, to learn about this

3) Career advice, including what areas of study and what are the career prospects. There weren't many resources back then (internet was just a fledgeling in those days) and most of the time, I'm like blindly following others, who are probably equally blind too. I am an excellent student, and I probably could have taken a scholarship or two, but I wasn't aware and wasn't pushed. Who knows where that could lead me to?


Again, I stress that this is not a fault-finding exercise. I can totally understand how my parents are occupied with day to day survival issues and wouldn't have the energy or time to worry about future thriving issues. So, being a parent myself now, I will learn and correct from the 'mistakes' my parents made so that the next generation will be even better equipped.

We can see further only because we're standing on the shoulders of giants that came before us.


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