Having to take over the “Bringing the Bacon Home” responsibility since graduation has never been easy for me.
Although I have always been earning my own pocket money (teaching piano, tuition, part time jobs) since young, I didn’t have a clue how much I really need to bring in to feed a family of four when I first started. I remembered juggling between 3 jobs after graduation (full time job, teaching piano/tuition, weekend job). My friends were always complaining that I had no time to join them for social gatherings and that I am too obsessed with earning money.
My family never had the habit of talking about money openly. It didn’t occurred to me to really sit down with my mum and asked her to list down the expenses needed for the family. As I was only a daughter, I didn’t want to make my parents feel that I have taken over the authority of the family just because I was bringing in the bacon. I gave them my atm card and let them help themselves to my account. It was a disaster, for a year or two, I had no savings and finally I opened a separate account for my mum and decided to give them a monthly allowance instead.
Over the years, on top of the monthly allowance, my parents and sibling would come to me occasionally asking me to help them clear the bigger bills e.g. my sibling college and overseas education, their holidays etc.. I would also shower my sibling with little luxuries that I didn’t have when I was young e.g. mobile phone, holidays, makeover for prom, eating out at fancier restaurants etc.
Deep down, I had this feeling of liberation and somewhat satisfaction that I am bringing my family out of the financial rut that we were facing since young. We are finally enjoying the little luxuries that we never had the chance to experience and we never had to worry about not having food on the table.This is probably what a lot of breadwinners are facing today. Shouldering all the responsibilities and feeling the pride that everyone in the family depended on you.
If I could turn back the clock, I wouldn’t do what I have done before. I should have focused in getting the family involved in taking responsibilities in money management. Every Saturday, I watched this show by Suze Orman in CNBC. She has this segment called “Can I afford it” where she will review the financial status of the audience and tell them whether they have been approved to buy something that they always wanted to buy. Check out the video clip below for example :
Can I Afford a $70K Tesla?
I thought this was a brilliant show for the family to sit down together to jointly debate whether to approve or disapprove a buy . In fact, I think a family (including the kids) should have a monthly meeting to share with one another their financial status and expenses and jointly work towards a common goal for the family e.g. their vacation trip of the year. Everyone should work towards that vacation that they will be going together (including the kids). Habits starts young. If you start imparting financial literacy and good money management habits since young, you no longer have to shoulder that heavy weight that is not doing any good for your family.
There was this saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. What do you think ? I want to hear from all the breadwinners out there…