Money lessons I learnt from Mum

In this Mother's Day tribute, real mothers reveal how their mum's famous words influenced their financial values and share their own golden nuggets for their little ones.


Many of our biggest life lessons come from none other than Mum. And while it may be surprising, experts agree that more than any explicit financial knowledge, such life lessons are highly effectual in shaping our attitude towards money. So, thank you mums for imparting dollar wisdom without us even realising it!
 

Homemaker & mum to Nusaybah, 5, and Ashaz, 2 months

Nooracuma binte Memahat, 39

What were your mum’s famous words when you were growing up?

She frequently uttered this Malay proverb, “Ukur baju dibadan sendiri”. Literally translated into “measure your coat to your own person”, this means live within your means or act according to your ability. 

She also stressed the importance of not just having goals and dreams, but also having a plan to achieve them. This taught me the importance of having a tactical game plan to achieving long-term goals. A major exercise in this was planning my wedding.


How did this shape your values about money?

It was a great reminder to spend wisely. In my teens, it was sometimes challenging to live by these words, especially when I felt tempted to buy whatever my peers had even though I didn’t need it. But once I started earning my own money, I became more conscious of my spending. I began to make the most of what I had in order to achieve what I wanted. I was determined to fund my own university studies, so I looked for creative ways to live lean and save as much as possible. 

The idea of spending only what you have was demonstrated in many ways at home. My parents never believed in over-relying on credit cards. Instead of paying with plastic or taking a loan to buy something, Mum always advised us to save our money for it. Now that I have my own family, I believe having a credit card is essential for online/cashless payments but my hubby and I are very mindful of the potential dangers behind its convenience. We set limits on our monthly credit expenditure. I have my mum to thank for instilling in me the value of being very thoughtful in separating need from want, and exercising patience when thinking about making big purchases.


What financial lessons has motherhood taught you?

Always research before buying so as to make appropriate choices according to your needs and invest in quality products. Being money-smart is not always about scrimping and saving every dime, but taking the long view when making financial decisions. In the past, my personal shopping list used to be longer but now, it’s more focused on my children’s needs! It’s perfectly fine to forgo a few extras for myself so my kids can be comfortable, happy and get the best start in life!


What kind of legacy do you hope to leave for your children?

I want to impart in them the value of independence, not relying on others. My daughter has a bottle that she uses to keep monetary gifts she collects on Eid or other occasions. We remind her that if there’s something she wants to buy, she must first save enough money for it.


What do you/will you tell your children about money? 

To have money is a great thing but to have a good heart is everything! We do this by teaching them the value of being charitable, be it with their money or with their time. Very often, spending time with someone can mean so much more to them than a handout. Every time their birthday comes around, we encourage them to perform an act of charity of their choice, to share happiness. 

Associate account director and mother to Tamara, 9, and Christof, 4

Christine Sipin, 40s

What were your mum’s famous words when you were growing up?

She’s a woman of few words. She taught me, by example, the importance of earning your own keep, thinking on your toes and sheer grit.

How did this shape your values about money?

Financial independence has always been the goal and as my mum herself is in the insurance industry, I believe in always being ready. I’ve seen my mother help countless people especially with their healthcare needs. It’s ingrained in me to do the same for my family: to get us all insured and prepared for school and retirement; and also to purchase our own home.

 The money I’ve set aside has always been put to good use; for medical bills when I started my own family, buying our own flat or funding our kids’ educational needs. I’ve learned that when you are diligent in saving and investing money, you’ll be well prepared for whatever life throws at you.

What financial lessons has motherhood taught you?

When you have young kids, your expenses seem to growing exponentially with their age! So my attitude towards money has always been pragmatic and practical. But I’ve learned to explore ways to make my money work for me. My attitude shift came in the form of knowing when to treat myself too; to consciously have self-care and be generous with my well-being. I used to feel guilty when spending on myself. Money is meant to be enjoyed too, after all.

What kind of legacy do you hope to leave for your children?

Just as I’m constantly looking out for them now, I want them to look after each other, to never turn the other away. I want them to know the importance of working hard; that if they want something, they have to earn it. I want them to value their education, opportunities andgifts. Gifts and talents are multiplied when used and taken away when taken for granted. My 9-year-old has that drummed into her head by now (I hope).

What do you/will you tell your children about money?

Daddy and I are out working so you can both study hard until you achieve your dreams. Find what you love to do and study to be the best version of yourself in whatever field that may be. Money will follow but what’s important is that you are happy and fulfilled and are able to share what you have. Be independent, save, know what’s important.

Also, do not be wasteful, respect people regardless of money or stature, be fair and share.
 

Senior account manager (integrated marketing) and mum to an eight-year-old boy

Marie Wee, 40

What were your mum’s famous words when you were growing up?

"Study hard and you will earn lots of money." I've found the two to be not necessarily correlated but diligence is a universal virtue and there are incentives that come with it, be it monetary reward, recognition, peer respect or a better chance for advancement in the workplace. With it, more doors will open. As a parent now, I’ve also come to realise that this philosophy doesn't always work the way it's meant to; sometimes, one needs to find incentives, or even be armed with a bag of tricks in order to get children to work hard!

How did this shape your values about money?

Because of the hardship they grew up with, many older folk tend to view building up a huge financial vault as the keys to a comfortable life and greater security. And that’s true to some extent. Money can buy some happiness, such as a memorable vacation with loved ones, but it cannot buy relationships nor real love.

What financial lessons has motherhood taught you?

That just enough is not enough. Children tend to fall sick, need more, want more... To avoid mum-guilt or feeling inadequately prepared for my child's future, I’ve cut back on non-essentials and learnt ways to make money work harder for me, because more may only be just enough.

What kind of legacy do you hope to leave for your child?

I hope to be an effective role model of good money management, so that he’ll be able to control his finances with wisdom, while being sufficiently generous and kind. 

I want to instil in him an understanding of the difference between money and value; as well as pride and humility.

What do you/will you tell your child about money?

Don't spend it like there's no tomorrow – because there is.

Start saving for your child's future today

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