I want to thank Get Rich Slowly for his excellent post, “What motivates you to pursue smart personal finance?” It provided me the inspiration for this letter to my elder girls.
Dear Along and Azah,
The time is drawing near for the both of you to graduate, seek jobs and find your own financial footings. Your mother and I have tried our best to bring up the both of you and your other 3 siblings, in a responsible manner. All your lives, we have always had food on the table and a solid roof over our heads. Almost all your requests have been met. You have almost never been left with any of your wants unmet.
You have never ever seen debt collectors come to our house and bang on our doors.
You never had to pick up the phone and lie to the other person that your father is not in, so as to avoid a bill collector.
You have never seen unpaid bills lying around the house.
And you have no idea what it is to be poor or to seriously want for money.
Having brought up the both of you like this, I wonder if I have done enough to instill in you the motivation to pursue smart personal finance.
I envy parents who have taken steps when the children are so much younger. There are many examples, some of which are listed below.
For the vast majority of people, motivation to pursue smart personal finance comes from two sources:-
a) Guidance and examples set by parents or other role models and
b) Pain, loss, suffering or set backs caused by lack of money or money mistakes.
Well, I may not have done enough of (a) and certainly you have not gone through (b). So what do we do now to instill in the both of you the needed motivation?
You have been writing down your goals for some time now. We have talked about seeking financial independence as one of your major goals in finance.
Now I seek you both to think hard and write down the reasons why you want financial independence. It could be:-
a) Never having to work for a lousy or “kerepot” boss, just because you needed the paycheck.
b) Being able to do things that you choose to do and not because someone else wants you to do. Like travel, working with the underprivileged children in Rembau etc.
c) Never having to go through the financial pain your Auntie Faridah and your cousins Sophia and Mima went through when she went through the messy breakup with your Uncle. Your mother rented a house for them and they lived with us for almost a year.
d) Being able to spend comfortably on your real wants knowing that you have a strong financial base.
e) Never having to be a debt slave.
f) Doing the greatest charity, which is not being poor yourself.
g) Having a sense of purpose in your life.
Spend some time on this and think about this carefully. These reasons should be strong enough to provide you with a continuous stream of the motivation you’ll need to pursue smart personal finance. Reading again your “WHYs” should keep feeding you the required motivation.
And believe me, strong and continuous motivation, you’ll need.
- To protect you from succumbing to the relentless advertising of all kinds of products and services that you’ll see day in and day out.
- To protect you from so called “well meaning friends” who’ll nudge you into spending just a little above your budget, today, tomorrow and everyday.
- To protect you from the clever and well oiled banking machinery that seeks to offer you loans to buy things that you don’t really need, so that the banks can live off you. Slaving away to pay them interest.
There are still many other things for you to learn about smart personal finance. I am still learning myself. However, once you have your motivation embedded strongly and deeply enough in you, you’ll start seeking out this knowledge and it will come. I have no doubt about that.
My dear princesses,
You’ll never fully appreciate how difficult it is for parents to see their children go through difficulties of any kind, until you are parents yourself.
I can only pray that your mother and I have brought up the both of you responsibly enough to recognize good advice and to listen and be prepared rather than to go out unprepared, make the unnecessary mistakes and then learn.
We have talked about the story of the mother mouse and her baby. The baby mouse did not listen to its mother’s advice and got caught in the mouse trap.
The last thing, your mother and I want to see is you getting caught in the trap of bad personal finance.
When you have finished your studies, let us spend more time on going deeper into planning your personal finance moves. After all, getting a good job is also part of smart personal finance.
For now focus on your studies and do well in your exams.
Your mother, brother and your two younger sisters convey their best regards and wishes to the both of you.