8 Financial Lessons Parents need to practice

Raising a child is expensive in Malaysia, particularly in urban areas with high cost of living. Parents need to keep any eye on their family spending, to ensure there are planned savings for expected and unexpected financial expenses, and to maintain a stable financial household.

The below are some best practices and valuable tips for parents to ponder on cutting expenditures and to cultivate saving culture.

Saving Habit

Embrace a saving culture at a young age and teach your children how to invest their pocket money. Explain to them what is the growth of principal investment and the returns earned from their savings. Open today a saving bank account for your child and pay a fraction of the pocket money to be deposited into a bank account. With a minimum deposit of RM1.00 to open an account, you can motivate your child to save money. There are junior saving accounts offered by local banks, compliments with insurance coverage for your child, an added advantage to protect your child. Encourage them to save up for something meaningful & worthwhile, that the child would like to purchase at a later date.  Teach children the financial responsibility and empower them with financial skills in money management. This will help parents to avoid unnecessary purchases and compulsive spending that eat up their budget. The goal is for your children to appreciate the value of money and understand their parents work hard to earn money. The proactive financial actions help to enhance the financial health and the well being of your family in the long run.

Tertiary Education

It’s imperative to save money for your children’s education, from the time when a child is born. Prudent education investment move, will protect parents against inflation and be financially prepared, to pay for their children’s higher education fee. Essential factors need to be well thought-out; local or abroad tertiary education and the field of studies to be pursued. Tertiary education in Malaysia costs between RM30,000 to RM200,000  (public & private institutions) and  studying abroad in countries like the US , UK and Australia, the estimated cost  ranges from RM300,000 –RM800,000; the figure inclusive of college fees, accommodation, food and transportation. When a child embarks on his/her journey to college, education costs money and the cost of financial ignorance leads to financial stress. Financial aid is available for education but it does not guarantees loan offer or able to support the cost of the preferred study and the selected university of your child’s choice. It is good to speak to a financial adviser, for a best education planning and investment option for your family.  

Clothing

It is advisable not to spend huge money on clothing; children will grow out of them very quickly.  A branded children’s cloth item costs RM80 –RM150, too expensive for many middle class Malaysian families to afford.  There are quality and reasonable priced clothing available in moderate range children stores. Sales clearance is the best time to buy your child’s clothing and there are several sales season throughout the year. Night market is a good place to buy economical clothing for a big family. Parents with more than a child need not have to spend lots of money on clothing; the clothes can be passed down in the family. In Malaysia, pre loved clothes are usually donated to homes but today there are several online sites, which sell pre loved clothes for children. Some of these clothing items are expensive boutique brands and the clothes are fairly in good condition, which parents are able to purchase at a reasonable price. The younger generation parents prefer purchasing children clothes with online shopping, which is comparatively cheaper to a shopping complex children store.

Food

Eating out frequently is lavish expenditure and does not provide the best value for your money.  A decent meal in a restaurant will cost RM100 –RM150 for a family of three members. Food prices at restaurants are three to five times more expensive than your grocery items. Children love to eat at their favorite fast food restaurants, which is very unhealthy. We don’t want to feed our children with processed food; a damaging eating lifestyle we want to discard. The food cooked at home is more nutritious compared to a restaurant which uses lots of fat, salt and sugar. Learning to cook at home saves a big fraction of your money and provides a well balanced diet for your family and you will be definitely satisfied with the food you are serving your children.  The food prepared at home is assured of quality & safety, and what's more, you get a better value for the money spent.

Holiday

The depreciation of ringgit against major currencies in the world makes holiday destinations too expensive or impossible for many Malaysian families to travel abroad.  Local destinations offer a better economic deal for Malaysians due to the currency disadvantage. Parents have also  an option to plan family trips at a very minimal cost, activities such as jungle trekking, hiking adventure to local attraction places like Broga Hill, Cameron Highland and cycling activity in Taman Cahaya & Putrajaya, just to name a few, promotes a healthy and quality family lifestyle. It contributes a huge saving opportunity for parents and to channel the money to other crucial priorities and debt reductions plan.

Pay Cash

Cultivate the habit of paying cash when you purchase groceries and other shopping items. The rising goods and services prices, increases the household debt of many parents with credit card utilization. Never use the banks’ money, to pay for your current expenses. If you prefer to use the credit card for convenience, ensure your card is paid in full every month by the due date. Using the bank’s money to satisfy your family’s current needs, creates financial volatile; the income earned will be insufficient to pay your debts. You will end up paying more to your creditors with continuous interest charged to your credit card balance monthly. Credit card is the most expensive financial product; abuse of credit cards will destroy your family’s financial future and hurt your credit score. Keep credit cards for emergency needs and most importantly avoid compulsive spending behavior.

Stop Buying Waste Items

To curb your financial spending, avoid purchasing unwanted shopping items; compulsive spending behavior is damaging to your family’s financial expense. Window shopping and online shopping are very tempting and bad decisions made will diminish your bank balance in a matter of time. Take a step further; ask yourself do you really need the item? Any of your family members will be utilizing the item?  The item you intend to purchase, will it be sitting in your closet for months or taking up the storage space in your house?  These questions will assist you to deduce whether the item is necessity expenditure in your current budget.

Parties

Children parties are luxury trend statement in urban areas, to have big expensive birthday parties in kids entertainment outlets, exclusive restaurants, zoo and water recreational parks, just to name a few.  Exquisite birthday cakes with 3D design, tier cup cakes, extravagant candy bar buffet, all acquired at exorbitant prices to keep up with your child’s expectations and peer pressure demands. These types of birthday parties make parents incredibly stressed with an estimated party cost of RM5, 000- RM8, 000, an excessive expense in your balance sheet. Young children will always be overwhelmed with birthday parties whether it’s a big or small party. Plan a birthday that takes into account your bank balance and budget. With thoughtful planning, you can give your child a memorable and fun party.

Saving is an essence of financial security and making the financial budget to control your expenditures puts you in a good position to administer your cash flow effectively. Save wisely and invest your money for future financial growth, to generate a potential financial ability to support the needs of your family.