Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My money habits

They said that people get their money habits from their background and the kind of cultural baggage that you carry since the moment you are born till now. I think it's true. Let's see what kind of money habits are inculcated in me either subconsciously or directly:

1. I'm thrifty bordering on miserly

My family just had enough, and not much more. Having two boys who are two years apart, my parents must have spent quite a lot on preparing for our education needs. As a result, there's not a lot of excess spent on other things like enrichment or play stuff. I remember I was getting pocket money in secondary school amounting to $60 - $80 and $120 in university, all inclusive. As a result, there isn't any excess to be spent on shopping or trips to orchard road (I didn't go orchard road until army, horrors of horrors...). Most of my meals are settled at home too.

Not a surprise why I turned out to be money conscious. It's a matter of surviving the month with the budget that you're given.

2. I budget and save a lot

My parent gave me a lump sum at the start of the month and I'll have to proportion the amount to be spent on food, transportation, books and stationary. Entertainment and shopping is next to nothing because there isn't much to go around for these. On hindsight, I think it's a good idea to let kids budget their own money - it teaches a lot of value towards money that cannot be learned otherwise. Anyway, because of unexpected events that might arise (suddenly, there might be a need to buy certain books required for school), I've to save up my monthly pocket money for such events. That probably ingrained in me the need to save up in case of rainy days. As for budgeting, I've learned it since young to proportion your money and break it down from months to weeks to days, so that you would not overspend. I didn't keep records of my expenditure at that time, but I mentally record it. For example, if I'd spent a fair bit on food this week, I'll try to cut back on subsequent weeks to live through the month.

3. I treaure my things well

I've a pencil that I bought when I went into JC1 in 1995, and I'm still using that now. All my students knew about it because it's no longer available. Then, I've a red coloured pen that is passed down from my brother to me in primary school, and it's still usable with a few drops of ink inside. I still keep it inside my pencil case for the memory. Unlike other kids, new start of a school year is always unhappy for me. Other kids got to buy new shoes and new books and perhaps new uniform. I've to take hand-me-downs from my brother. My uniform are hand me downs from my brother ever since I'm in primary school, through secondary school and to JC (haha, I went to the same school as him throughout the years). My textbooks are also passed down from my brother. If my parents ever bought me something new, I'll make sure I'll keep it very well simply because it's rare to own something new for me. I think that also explains why I seldom shop. It's just not ingrained in me since young to shop for my own things.

4. I crave for personal freedom

Okay, this isn't exactly a money habit but it's somewhat related. I share a room with my brother since forever, until he got married and moved out. My parents worked from home and was constantly watching over us. Some people might crave for the attention and company but I prefer to have my private space where I could do some thinking and maybe simply doing nothing. As such, my need to have my personal space is very real. When I finally get my own flat, I would never rent a room out to strangers to help supplement my monthly mortgage. I'll rather work harder to pay for it myself. Perhaps because of such intense desire to have my personal space, I'm fiercely independent. A personal space is very very important to me.

I wonder why it's always a pig

I don't despise my childhood and growing up years. It's what made me who I am today. I guess I'll have to be grateful for my parents for bringing me up. It's really pointless to try and compare your life with others who are better because what good can that do. Looking forward, I will have to do a lot of planning to ensure that my child will not be short changed in life. I think everyone parents would want their child to come out ahead of the race and suceed.

I've read newspaper reports that there are preschools that are so hot that even when the fees are doubled to 1.6k per month, the parents still came in droves to enroll. I think it all comes from the desire to want their kids to have a good head start in life. Not easy being a parent huh? I hope I'm in the right kind of line for the next 30-40 years.


Anonymous said...

I think most kids in your generation grew up that way - no money to splurge on wants.

And again in the same way, when the kids in your generation become parents, they will over-indulge their kids so as not to "short change" them. That's why we see kids nowadays with the latest shiny gadgets and branded stuff.

The virtue of thriftiness is just not passed down to the next generation, because the parents don't want their children to "suffer" the same lifestyle. And we end up with a generation of pampered and spoilt brats. Just go to any fast food restaurant and see for yourself.

Musicwhiz said...


You've got a humble childhood, and I think it has taught you great values which, sadly, I see disappearing in the kids nowadays as their rich parents spoil and pamper them. Singapore has definitely become more materialistic in the last 30 years as the economy boomed and GDP grows every year.

I hope I can teach my daughter the value of thrift, and it's going to be an uphill task considering her friends and peers are going to be much more possession and status-conscious as compared to when I was a child. It makes me sad, but we have to cope with what we are faced with, no point arguing. As they always say, if unhappy migrate lor...


Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Ai yeah....

Why you not a girl La Papillion.... I think I am liking you more and more (eh, joke only hor, don't you dare touch me!)

You have again given me an inspiration what to share in my "chap pa lang" blog. My growing up years. (Copy cat, copy cat!)

I guess I am now in the "honey-moon" phase. Blog and comment here there and everywhere. It's so fun! (Die! Did I finish my work for the day?)

The crash and burn will come I think... But meanwhile, I'll enjoy the wine, women, and song!

Createwealth8888 said...

If you are born poor and live a poor childhood life, it is not your fault; but if your child doesn't have a decent childhood and has to live poorly, then it is definitely your fault. Probably, that is reason why parents always give their children their best.

Anonymous said...


If both parents have to work 2 jobs each (let's say hawker assistant and cleaner) and cannot give their child a so-called good life filled with iphones and LVs. It is their fault? Great logic, dude.

No wonder there are so many pampered kids nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Hi LP,
It seems that at least your parents could support you through U.
I just wonder how much they were struggling to make ends meet; How much they were worrying whether they could see you through your U education; How much they had struggled and sacrificed. I am sure more or less you knew it at that time. Or else, you would not have completed your U education.

As for bringing up a child, I impressed on my only child very early to manage money properly. I told him one of the most important thing in life is not how much or how little you earn but how you use money. It so important that if you fail to manage money properly, you will soon find yourself in poor financial health. Which usually leads you to the "poor house."
In short impressed him :- "Use money, not money use you."
And yes, everyone of us wish we were born with at least a silver spoon in our mouth if not a golden one. If only we can choose.
Anyway, most children are born with a silver spoon now.
If you have a child now, definitely at least you will give a silver spoon if not a golden one.
Ha! Ha!
Will you "spoiled" your child by over-compensating him with what you had missed in your childhood?
I don't think you will.

Createwealth8888 said...

With both parents working and spending limited time with their child, the chance of over-compensating child is higher.

I think it is quite normal when over-supply of money from dual incomes has to go somewhere and the best way is go to children especially single child.

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

I agree that because might over compensate for their kids because of what they went thru. I'm still trying to think of how to inculcate the right values without short changing them. I think it can be done.

Thanks for the warning!

la papillion said...

Hi mw,

Erm..if you found a way, remember to share haha! I certainly need some help over here :)


Wah, glad that I've given you inspiration to write an article :) Looking forward to it, haha! There is a honeymoon period for blogging, so do enjoy it while it lasts :)

Quite engaging activity - this blogging business :)

la papillion said...

Hi Temperament,

Yup, I understand their struggle. They told me straight that the only thing they can provide me and my bro is the university education. There's no excess for tuition or other nonsense, so please work hard. And so we did.

Hmm, I'll remember that advice regarding using money and not letting money use you. Thanks for sharing :)

Createwealth8888 said...

Hi Brolp,

Your generation can be considered good as your parents still can afford to send you to university.

I suppose each generation may be better off than their parents as parents will tend to provide children the best and lift up the next generation.

Chong Jun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chong Jun said...

Hey LP,

I wouldn't say my family is well off, but at least I'm glad my parents can provide me adequately with daily necessities plus some bonus like random shopping. Thus, I was born not knowing how to save money until towards my late teen years due to some personal issues.

What I'm trying to say here is while it depends on growing environment and family virtues, I believe one needs to depend on themselves and only then to self-convince the importance of money and saving.

la papillion said...

Hi CJ,

You're right, it definitely boils down to what you want to do. But don't we all wish that it'll be a little easier, like your family can teach you instead of you learning the hard way, or your family can provide instead of you finding? haha, wishful thinking :)

wealthyhabits said...

I agree with Chong Jun, independence will force one to think harder about managing money.

I have friends who brush off or excuse others' bad attitude / spendthrift ways with "They're rich". To me, it's the wrong upbringing that caused it, not the abundance of money.

Really enjoy your posts even though I haven't been blogging and reading for quite some time.

Happy new year to you btw.

Cheers! =)

Anonymous said...

I love reading ur blogs. Very informTive. Reading this blog entry and I like the part on I treasure my things well ie using the pen till no ink. when young and when money was not easily gotten I also treasured all my belongings. Somehow when u started working u will tend to buy more without a need for it. I actually felt sorry for myself when I read this entry. I missed the old me when I really treasure my things. believe me when I say I will change ;) thanks for ur post.

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

Thanks for your encouragement :) I'm very glad that after reading the blog, it can inspire you to take actions.

Good luck!