Last March I was interviewed by three young high school girls from Miriam College for a school project. After the interview, I asked them about their saving habits. Then I ended up challenging them to save at least 10% of their allowance. A couple of weeks later I was delighted to receive an email from one of them. I wish to share it with you.
In the last two weeks of school, you challenged my friends and me to save 10% of our allowance per week. I took it. Although I was only required to save 60 pesos, I went beyond that by saving 100 pesos per week. The experience was definitely unusual because it was not part of my everyday routine. I had to make sure the money I had would be enough for the rest of the week and that was quite difficult the first few days but I started getting used to it. I even surprised myself by saving beyond what I had expected. I never really thought about saving money and doing that on a daily basis but when I did, it wasn’t so bad. This experience taught me a lot in terms of handling money and being responsible over it. And for some odd reason, I’d actually like to start having a “saving money routine” for next school year. – Therese B. via email
I underlined her last statements because I’d like to point out how things can turn around just by putting something in the consciousness of young minds.
Therese said she never thought about saving on a regular basis but when she started doing it she found out it wasn’t so bad and plans to do the whole routine next school year, maybe because that’s when the regular allowance resumes. I wish that Therese and her two classmates will follow through and continue this habit into their adult lives.
It was a talk by a Jesuit priest addressing Nursery parents then that made me and my husband decide to teach our children the value of saving at a young age. He said, “Parents always think of what they didn’t have while they were growing up, and they make sure that their children will have it and will have enough of it.” It’s true, parents who didn’t get the Voltes V toy they pleaded for will make sure that their kids get all the toys they ask for. The Jesuit added that instead of focusing too much on what we didn’t have, we should try to remember what we had as children that worked well for us and give that to our children.
It was a powerful message for me so I tried to recall my own childhood to see what worked well for me. I realized that it was my early and continuous habit of saving. So we introduced this habit to the boys as soon as they started receiving their cash allowance.
When my oldest son Martin was interviewed a couple of years ago about saving and investing among teens he was asked, “Isn’t it hard to always save while your classmates are spending left and right and having fun?” He answered, “Well, we’re used to it. To a certain extent, we were born into it. It’s a habit that we know is good for us like brushing our teeth. At the start, it wasn’t that easy as we consciously did the brushing strokes the right way and our motor skills were not yet that developed, but later on we just do it without much thought, but automatically.”
I’d like to extend my son’s analogy between saving and brushing one’s teeth. Just like brushing teeth, young children sometimes don’t feel like doing it but they know they have to do it for their own sake. As they get older, they don’t need to be reminded by their parents anymore. It is a habit that’s universally expected from each one of us that when you’re caught not doing it regularly, it’s a big shame! “Yikes! So that’s why she has bad breath!” is a typical comment you’ll hear. Wouldn’t it be nice if saving and investing will catch on just like brushing our teeth that it would be a shame not to be doing it regularly, whether mom is looking or not? Let’s not wait for the bad breath (being broke) to come out before we start doing it regularly.
The basic step in wealth accumulation is to save regularly. A few years ago when I researched on the origin of the Personal Finance mantra “Pay yourself first!” I found out that it came from a compilation of parables written by George Samuel Clayson in 1926. The “carrier parable” in the compilation is The Richest Man in Babylon.
While reading the parables, specifically the first one, it struck me that this can be retold in a children’s book using simple, easy to understand language with vivid descriptions of the characters and the surroundings.
Reading sessions with my sons are among my fondest memories. Sometimes they were tiring because of the countless repetitions. But guess what repetitions do? Martin would look like he was reading this 44-page book entitled Mickey Mouse in Sky Island, but he was only two years old then and could not yet read, so he was actually reciting the words from memory while he turned the pages.
These memories rushed to my mind as I imagined writing a children’s book that would be read by parents to their children regularly. This activity can encourage discussions between the child and the parent about money and this is how it should be. In doing so, parents can impart their own money values to their children as they read and do the book activities together.
I divided the story into short one-page chapters and categorized the lessons into the Three Basic Laws of Money for easy recall. Can you imagine if your child would start reciting the book from memory? He can master the laws of money in no time! Your child is set to become a saver and investor for life!
With great excitement, I wish to share with everyone that my next book The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon will be out this week! It’s a story and activity book for kids from 1 to 92 because it’s not only for kids and teens and those entering the workforce to have a head start on the laws of money, but also for adults to remember how simple the laws are. Sometimes adults tend to complicate things. And definitely, money, with all the different emotions we attach to it, is one of the things we love to complicate.
Whether you’re a parent, a child, a teenager, a newcomer to the workforce, or an adult, I hope that reading and rereading this book will help bring you the financial happiness that you desire. The book’s illustrations were done by Joaquin Aran, a talented young artist. (See below how you can get a copy.)
1. For a limited period, a minimum order of three (3) books entitles you to free door-to-door delivery within Metro Manila of autographed copies of The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon. The book is priced low at P150/copy only so each child/reader can have his/her own copy and keep a personal record of the book activities. Minimal rates apply for deliveries outside Metro Manila. Just text 0917 5395770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. On May 16, 2014 I will give a talk at the Expo Mom 2014 at the Glorietta 2 Activity Center, Palm Drive, Ayala Center, Makati. The topic will be teaching children about money. Interested participants may contact Mommy Mundo 4709925, 09189300313 or email@example.com.
3. On May 17, 2014 I will give a talk on Family Finance together with my husband Marvin and ANC On The Money anchor Edric Mendoza. This is part of iCon 2014 at SMX Pasay City. To register contact Deniece or Joreen at 5015090/8431460; 0918-9441249/0917-8482974.