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080522 Mothers day 2022 lessons

Mom Knows Best: 4 Invaluable Personal Finance Lessons From My Mom

profileJoel Koh

Mother Knows Best.

It’s a saying as old as time that still rings true today.

On top of mothers’ unconditional love for their children, mothers provide their children with a wealth of wisdom too.

Source: Giphy

And like many, I am blessed with a mother who loves me and taught me many invaluable lessons about life and money.

In celebration of Mother’s Day this year, here are four invaluable lessons I learned about money from my mother.


TL;DR: What I Learned About Personal Finance From My Mom

1. Be Generous With Your Money

2. Always Save For a Rainy Day

3. Don’t Spend Above Your Means

4. Avoid Bad Debt


1. Be Generous With Your Money

Back when I was an immature Primary school kid, I was jealous of my friends who were able to go on expensive holidays and had the latest and greatest toys and gaming consoles (Sony PS1, anyone?).

Although we were certainly not rich, my Mom always ensured that all my needs were met.

Not to mention that she bought me more than my fair share of toys, but I was not thankful for them.

I’m ashamed to recall this incident which I can only describe as the peak of my ungratefulness.

One fine morning, my mom dropped me off at the student care centre I was attending.

She was holding a wrapped present, but she did not want to tell me why she was bringing it.

When we arrived at the student care centre, she handed the present to my friend who attended the same student care.

After she left, my friend eagerly opened the present.

Lo and behold, it was actually a Beyblade stadium and a Beyblade like the one you see below:

Source: Worthpoint

I was furious when I saw my friend with the gift as I had wanted the toy for weeks and begged my mom to buy it for me.

After brooding all day, I went back home and waited to confront my mom.

When she got back home after a tiring day at work, I threw a temper tantrum and asked her why she did what she did.

Instead of being angry with me, she patiently told me that my friend was actually an orphan and patiently explained the importance of being generous with our money to bless others who are less fortunate.

But Primary school me was having none of it, and I was brooding for days.

Looking back, I am ashamed of myself for behaving in that manner.

I only truly understood the lesson when I went on community involvement project trips and got to understand the plight of lower-income families.

And like my mom would say, it’s better to give than to receive.

2. Always Save For a Rainy Day

Life is simply unpredictable.

We would have thought that a virus about 11,000 times smaller than human hair would cause so much havoc and unemployment in Singapore and around the world.

Source: The World Economic Forum

Thankfully, I was not in one of the sectors hit by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But if I really did lose my job, I would be prepared as, since young, my mother always emphasised the importance of having emergency savings.

Just imagine this scenario for a second…

You are suddenly retrenched with no prior warning.

How are you going to feed yourself and pay your bills now?

Sounds all too real, right?

That’s precisely why an emergency fund is the first thing any adult should have.

Since life is unpredictable, there are times when you might be caught unprepared.

But you can always “trick the system” by ensuring you have an emergency fund in place, where you’ve set aside a sum of money for urgent and unplanned life events. 

Typically, individuals only use their emergency funds when they lose their jobs, have an unexpected medical emergency or unplanned home repairs.

While everyone’s situation is different, a good gauge will be to set aside an equivalent of about 6 months worth of your living expenses that will give you time to get back on your feet.

I saw how this played out first-hand when my mom was retrenched due to company restructuring. Despite that, she had no issues putting food on the table as she had put aside an emergency fund.

3. Don’t Spend Above Your Means

In this day and age, we are bombarded with advertising messages to spend more with sales happening every month.

Not to mention the temptation to spend and keep up with your neighbours’ lavish lifestyle that seems to be so much better than yours.

This is where the third money lesson from my mom comes in.

Since young, she has always emphasised the importance of not spending beyond your means.

After all, spending money comes naturally to us and can become a problem if left unchecked.

Thus, my mom always taught me to understand the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and to spend money mindfully instead of just splashing out on anything that would make me feel good.

4. Avoid Bad Debt

In addition, my mom always emphasised the importance of avoiding bad debt.

Source: Giphy

Generally, bad debt is taking up loans to spend on something that decreases in value after it has been bought or solely for consumption.

Examples include credit card debt incurred for frivolous spending or vehicle loans that will not increase your financial value in the future.

Good Debt

Basically, good debt is anything that increases your future value or net worth.

Debt such as taking out a mortgage or taking a loan for education is considered good debt, this is because although it may cost you money now, it will benefit you in the long run.

My mom always adhered to this principle and avoided taking up any bad debts.

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About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. I hope to help people make better financial decisions and not let money control them.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

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