Ng Pui Yee started running Little Tauke, a financial education programme for children a year ago after realising how little she knew about managing her finances.
Though she worked in the finance sector, Ng wasn’t in the habit of saving or investing. In fact, much of her salary went to fulfilling her material wants – clothes, shoes, bags, etc.
It was only when she wanted to leave her job that she realised she had no safety net – her savings would barely keep her afloat for three months.
The problem, she realised, was that she didn’t know anything about managing her money, let alone saving and growing her wealth.
“I was too used to spending and I found it hard to go on a ‘money diet’. When I was young, my parents made it very clear that they could only provide us our basic needs. My father was the sole breadwinner for our family of six and he was very frugal.
“I saw myself as a deprived child as I could not satisfy my wants. So, I worked after school and through university to earn money, which I spent on things.This went on even after I started working.
“When I joined the banking industry, I began to realise how little I knew about how to manage and multiply money. I continued to spend.
“I was so stressed at work and wanted to quit. But I realised that with my meagre savings, I couldn’t. That was the moment I realised all the costly mistakes I’d made,” shares Ng.
She did not only change her spending behaviour, she was determined to share her “aha moment” with others, particularly children, to prevent them from making the same mistakes she’d made.
Her Ipoh-based start-up, Seeding Wealth Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd, runs a financial education programme for children.
The Little Tauke programme uses financial education games which drive home important messages about the concept of money and how it works.
Children learn about saving, investing and financial responsibility through fun programmes.
“Two questions we ask in our classes are ‘Where does money come from?’ and “What would you do if you have a lot of money?’.
“The answers are consistent: money comes from parents or the bank and the money will be spent on toys, gadgets, etc. They often don’t acknowledged the work or effort involved in getting money, which leads to the feeling of entitlement.
“Money isn’t everything but almost everything we need requires an exchange of money and getting an effective financial education is the first step towards financial independence,” says Ng.
Her advise to parents is to start teaching their children early.
“Research has shown that financial concepts can be taught to children even before they learn to count.
“They can understand basic concepts such as value and exchange – think about how a child offers his toy in exchange another. That’s a classic example of one of the earliest financial concepts: the barter system.
“When they are older, parents must trust their children to manage their allowances, even though they may make mistakes or mismanage the money.
“If they do, don’t bail them out … that’s how they learn the consequences of their spending. Have them “work” for extra cash,” says Ng.