The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit

May 14, 2014

From a reader:Hi Rose. I just wanted to say thank you for writing Your Children’s Weekly Allowance: The Best Training Ground to Raise Millionaires. It was excellently written and included wonderful ideas on how to help develop the habit of regularly saving part of your money.

I grew up hardly knowing how to save and it’s a problem I struggle with up to today. Fact of the matter is, no matter how much you want to save, if you don’t know how or had not developed the habit from childhood, then it’s something very hard to make part of your habit. 

This is why I am very conscious of teaching this all-important practice to my seven-year old daughter. Thank you very much for this significant and timely article.  – Bambi Temporal via email

Reply: Hi Bambi. I’m glad you found the article helpful. I’m also happy that you’re now introducing the habit of saving to your seven-year old daughter.

A lot of people do not develop the habit of saving because most parents do not know when to start teaching their kids about money.

Come to think of it, how come we have expectations as to when our children should learn how to walk, talk and read? We encourage them to crawl at first. Then later on, we help them make baby steps because we want them to be walking on their own by the time they reach one year old, right? We have a universally accepted milestone as to when a child should learn how to walk.

The same thing goes for talking and reading. We expect them to talk within the first two years, and read on their own by the time they’re in first grade, or even sooner for anxious mothers.

But when it comes to teaching them about money, we don’t seem to have a universally accepted or agreed upon milestone when children should learn about money. Why? Because money is such an emotional issue. And a lot of people do not understand their own relationship with money. So they end up growing old, getting married not having a full grasp of their own relationship with money, and how money works.

I wish that parents get a good handle of their own relationship with money before their children come into the picture so that they will be equipped to teach money lessons that agree with their own core values. This will allow them to start their children’s FQ journey early on. The good thing about starting them young is that they will develop the right habits early on. It is easier to learn something when you don’t have to unlearn the opposite. It is easier to develop a habit if you don’t have a bad habit to break.

Take the example of brushing your teeth. Early on in your life you knew that you should brush your teeth before you go to bed. Can you imagine if you learned (and practiced) early on the habit of setting aside a portion of the cash that comes in before spending anything? This is what is known as Paying yourself first. You would have accumulated a decent sum even before you graduate from school.

This is my inspiration in retelling an old parable into a children’s story and activity book – The Retelling of the Richest Man in Babylon. If we’re able to introduce the simple laws of money to our children early on and encourage them to practice the laws by doing some of the activities in the book, it’s possible that, like brushing their teeth before they go to bed, they will keep this habit of following the three simple laws of money into their adult life.

Last Monday I interviewed the CEO of a large financial institution and when I asked her to share with me her childhood money memory, I was delighted to hear her story. (Below is the paraphrased and summarized version):

“We didn’t have much when we were growing up and my father always reminded us to observe this principle – ‘Don’t spend what you don’t have. Don’t buy what you don’t need.’ Later on, when our family became quite comfortable because of his gainful employment, he still kept his frugal ways. He would buy quality items for the things that he deemed important but still nothing extravagant. And when he passed away I was surprised with the amount he left my mother with. Now that my mother is sick and her medical bills are really big, we, his children, are not burdened because he left much more than what my mother would need for the rest of her life.”

This is the dream story that I wish for every Filipino family. It is the total opposite of what is happening to the so called “sandwich generation” – i.e. caring for their parent’s financial needs while spending for the growing needs of their own family, making it difficult for them to accumulate wealth for their own retirement. Inability to break this practice perpetuates this vicious cycle of dependence and poverty.  

When you analyze the dream story, it happened because her father lived by the three basic laws of money narrated in the book, which starts with Pay yourself first. No complicated formula or secret to becoming rich but very simple laws. Laws, that when practiced consistently, become our habits. When they become our habits, there would be very little effort involved as they are now done automatically.

Let’s start our children young with the right money habits. Raising our children with high FQ is arming them with economic self-defense. In the long run, this will prove more valuable than a hefty inheritance!

“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” ~ Aristotle



1. The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylonis now out and priced at P150/copy only so each child/reader can have his/her own copy and keep a personal record of the book activities. You may avail of the free door-to-door delivery promo within Metro Manila. Minimal rate of P100 apply to Philippine deliveries outside Metro Manila. Promo ends on May 16, 2014. Just text 0917 5395770 or email

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

3. On May 17, 2014 I will give a talk on Family Investing 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.