9 Things I Wished My Parents Taught Me to Become Financially Savvy


(Dear readers, I’ll sometimes post articles directed to my daughter like this one but I hope you’ll still benefit and learn something from it. Read on if you’re still interested. 🙂 )

Dear Karin,

I’m financially illiterate. No, make that a math twat. Anything that involves numbers, I get dizzy and vomit a little inside my mouth. If a forgetful and gullible hawker uncle probably asked me how much change he should give me for a paid meal, I’d probably feel a bit faint, pray to math gods, dry heave a little then tell him to keep the change. That’s how horrible I am with math. And I associate finance with math so anything related to it like bank cheques, invoices and most importantly, savings plan, insurances, and investments, I absolutely don’t want anything to do with it but at times, I have to. So I don’t want you to become like me.

That’s why I’m writing this article. If you’re reading this at 7 years old or older and I’m not around anymore, god forbid that happens, I hope you’ll learn and remember some of whatever little and sensible advice I can give you. Here it goes.

1. Save first, spend later.

Whatever money you get from allowances, from part-time jobs, as gifts, please, please, save it. I had an allowance when I was in college but it was just enough for me to buy school materials, lunch and have some travel money so I never really had a chance to spend it on anything. If you’re in a luckier position than me (hopefully anak, with this blog, hopefully), please I highly suggest you save whatever you have. 

If you don’t really require anything, save 100% of it but if you can’t save at least 50% or more of what you have. Then read my next tip.

2. Don’t buy things on a whim.

It’s so easy to buy things that seemed important to have, like the latest, I don’t know..how old are you know, almost 3 yrs old..the latest…paw patrol vehicle probably but come after 2 months or so, I won’t even see you touching that toy.

Horrible example but I know you get my drift. Think first if you really need something then consider these things:

  • How much are you going to use it – every day, more than once in a week, just a few days in a month, can repeatedly use it until what age
  • Can you live without it – can you use other alternatives, is it really a need to buy one, are you going to die if you don’t have it
  • Is there a cheaper option – can you get it secondhand, can you make it yourself, can you use your old stuff and turn it into something else
  • Think about more urgent things that you can spend on.

I know it sounds dramatic but trust me, I went through these phases and these questions helped me decide if I really need to buy something or I just want to have it.

3. In fact, don’t buy “wants” at all.

Okay fine, you can but more on “needs”

Again, please look up at the considerations above, before categorizing them as a “need” in your head. There are so many “wants” that are cleverly marketed as “needs.” Advertising and sponsored posts can be that deceiving. So I hope if you’re having a hard time making out which one is really a “want” or a real “need”, I hope you’ll get my input on it.

4. Buy things that will last or will last longer.

I’m notorious for buying cheap stuff because, well it’s cheap. Yes, I seemed to have saved a lot but at the end of the day or at the end of the month, I’ll find myself searching again for another cheap bag because the first one got easily ruined and tore a hole, all on its own. Because that’s how cheap it was, it self destructs.

So I recommend buying something that can last longer. It might be a little bit pricey but it will save you time, effort and yes money, more than you think it will. 

5. Find a job.

working as a barista seems awesome right?!

Look for a student-friendly one, something that won’t get in the way of your class schedule, studying, and relaxing time. You can tutor other kids, you can work for a few hours as a part-time food service crew, you can help e-commerce shops pack their items, you can give out flyers, walk and look after pets and so one.

 If you’re keen to have a job but not interested to apply for anything you see online then, go to my next tip.

6. Make your own job.

Flip something, create something, and sell that, offer a service, whatever skills you have, think of ways of how you can earn from it. 

Here are some websites (with a podcast!) to give you some ideas, hopefully, these are still around to keep on giving you some tips as well:

Side Hustle Nation

Smart Income Passive Blog

Screw the Nine to Five

If you’re in your mid-20’s and you have your first official job (congratulations anak! I have some first-time job tips here too, if you like to read it)I highly advise that you:

7. Apply for credit cards but use them sparingly.

And by sparingly, I mean don’t ever use them at all. Use them only for emergencies. Yes, you can pay in small portions but that doesn’t you’re saving more. It only means you have a monthly payment plan with them and you’re paying a little more because of interest. So please, if it’s not necessary, your life doesn’t depend on it, no one is in the hospital then don’t use your credit card.

8. Read finance books and blogs.

I really wish I can encourage you on this because it would have been easier for you to read them but anak, mommy is financially stupid. I would need to probably read a paragraph of these kinds of books several times before I understand a fourth of it. And I know it’s pretty ironic that I’m giving you this advice but I also wished that my parents got me interested in these things. I may not be a prime example for you to follow but I just hope you’ll find some finance books or follow finance blogs that can help you learn and grow, financially.

9. Learn about investments.

That’s one of the ways you can say goodbye to the 9 to 5 grind. But if you do love the usual working office hours complete with politics, dramas, and struggles, then don’t listen to me. 

I hope you’ll do better than me anak and most importantly, I just hope you’d be happy in whatever financial venture you choose.

Love, 

Your Mommy


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