Lessons I Learnt from My Mum: A Tribute on Mother’s Day May 7, 2021
“Life doesn’t come with a manual, but it comes with a mother,” so goes the saying.
From the most mundane to the most critical life lessons, mothers were often our first teachers or mentors. Our mothers influence our outlooks, personalities and habits more than we realise. Most of the time, we learn by observing them and the lessons then take root in our subconscious. Just by watching how our mothers handle their money, we learn how to handle ours.
My amazing mom imparted several money lessons that shape me and my financial habits till this day.
Money isn’t scary
Growing up, my parents often argued over money. My mother had to raise three children as well as take care of my ageing grandparents. Every week, she would sit me down at the kitchen table and go over her records of the household’s income and expenses with me. Looking back, it was definitely a stressful period for my mother, who tried her best to juggle our expenses with the limited money we had.
While most kids in this environment might grow up feeling deeply insecure financially, I did not. Instead, my mother made me understand the importance of financial literacy from young. Having the necessary knowledge to manage personal finances efficiently allows me to plan and achieve my long-term goals while making healthy financial decisions.
We always have the power to make choices which can change our situation any given time. I learnt not to let money be the sole determinant of the decisions I make in life. Having said that, I qualify by saying that though money cannot buy happiness, it can provide peace of mind, freedom and flexibility.
Manage your own money: there’s no Prince Charming!
Perhaps there is a prince and maybe he is perfectly charming, but you should not count on one to rescue you from financial illiteracy.
“A man is not a financial plan,” was what my mother used to say. She emphasised the importance of financial independence and self-sufficiency. I imbibed from her the belief that a strong financial base provides a strong foundation for partners to build their relationship upon. Only then can you attract partners who can complement your financial habits.
Working is a must
“Money doesn’t grow on trees”, is yet another adage she drummed into me.
From young, my mother taught me that if there was something that we wanted and did not really need, we had to use our own money to buy it. I found part-time and full-time jobs after my “O” Levels to fund my entertainment expenses, like watching a movie or eating out with friends. (McDonald’s was the de facto restaurant in those days. I continued to work through my studies in the polytechnic and university, to fund my tuition fees.
When I graduated, I already had the habit of working hard to achieve my goals. I cultivated an entrepreneurial spirit and learnt the satisfaction of working towards my financial goals.
Save early and often
My mother showed me the value of regular and disciplined saving.
As a 7-year-old, I was gifted with a clay piggybank and started dropping coins in it. When the piggybank was full, my mum and I would trudge to the POSB bank and deposit the cash in a joint savings account. My mum let me manage the passbook. I could clearly see the sums building up with each trip and relished the feeling of being “rich”.
No matter how hard we work, it’s unlikely that we will be able to save, invest and spend optimally without proper budgeting. Budgeting helps me allocate money to what I want and need without drifting into debt.
Investing and growing my wealth
Finally, my mom encouraged me to invest as soon as I received my first pay check. She was ahead of her time, as in those days, investing wasn’t so common. Certainly not among fresh graduates.
In her view, there was no need to wait till I was mid-career to start investing. While most parents would not trust their children to invest, taking that risk with me truly paid off in the long run. I learnt the ways to divide my funds and the ways to park my money to accumulate wealth much earlier in life. I also grew to understand my personal risk profile early.
I have learnt many invaluable lessons from my mother while growing up. While not all were foolproof and mistakes were made here and there, I believe that mothers always wish the best for their children. They try to pass down knowledge that they learn the hard way.
Thank you, all mothers, mothers-to-be and mother figures for the profound impact you make on your children. Wishing all of you a wonderful and safe Mother’s Day!