Sponsored Links

To retire by age 45, start with a plan.

"Is early retirement the right financial choice?" Jim Ellis discusses long-term financial growth strategies. I have blogged a...

Past blog posts now load week by week. The old style created a problem for some as the system would load 50 blog posts each time. Hope the new style is better. Search archives in box below.

Archives

"E-book" by AK

Second "e-book".

Another free "e-book".

Pageviews since Dec'09

FOLLOW AK ON FACEBOOK.

Recent Comments

ASSI's Guest bloggers

What is our attitude towards having children? 钱最重要的!

Monday, May 12, 2014

UPDATE:
Force your children to become your financial assets! Force them to give you a monthly allowance when they start working if they don't do it!


Listen to the Chinese aunty:


"钱是最重要的!"
This is a big difference from what the aunty at the end of the video said about emotional support being more important and that "money isn't everything". 

I so stunned like vegetable.
------------------------
Being single, I get asked "When are you getting married?" quite a bit. Of course, for couples who are married, the next question which gets asked is usually "When are you going to have a baby?"


Now, I have blogged about weddings and marriage before. Twice, in fact. In both instances, they received an overwhelming number of comments. So, I know it is a very sensitive topic and, maybe, I should avoid blogging about it in future.

I have also blogged about how it is important to involve children in financial issues and how achieving financial freedom should be a family affair. Now, this topic was very well received. Not as explosive and it is something I should consider blogging more of in future, perhaps.

However, I have never blogged about how some people think that children are assets which they can depend on in their old age or have I? Well, I don't remember.

When a reader told me on FB that one of his friends, who is given to admonishing him for being single and for giving in too easily to his wanderlust, told him that kids will, in future, be a source of monthly allowance, paid holidays and free medical care, for examples, my jaw dropped (and for readers who follow me on FB, you know which emoticon I would use).

I always say that kids are very expensive to bring up in Singapore. An estimate which I did almost 20 years ago showed me that it would cost some $250,000 per child from birth to graduation day at a local university. I am sure that this figure is much higher today.



Now, I have said before that a wedding is a consumption item. 

Expensive photo shoots, bridal gown, diamond ring, honeymoon, apartment, furniture, electronics and renovation are all consumption items. Expensive wedding banquet is a consumption item. So, if we cannot afford all these, then, scale back or, indeed, delay gratification. Have the wedding at a later date. In fact, ask whether a wedding is necessary at all.

Of course, some might say that we could make money from the red packets at the wedding banquet. Now, that is bringing a speculative element into a wedding and I don't think we should even go there. I mean if we have to even think about how we have to depend on money we get in red packets to pay for wedding expenses, we must be really scraping the bottom of the bin.

Anyway, before my head gets chopped off, I should move on to talk about children.

I always say that marriage is to give children legitimacy. Our modern day society requires this. It cannot be avoided. If two adults love each other but do not wish to have children, they don't need to get married. That marriage certificate is just a piece of paper. Love each other forever and stay together.

OK, in Singapore, we have this consideration called a HDB flat. So, if a couple want to buy a BTO HDB flat, they must be married. Well, there is always the option of buying a resale HDB flat if both are 35 years or older, right? 

Yikes! Who threw a shoe at me? 

OK, ok, I get the hint.

Coming back to the topic of children. Now that we agree that a wedding is a consumption item, what about children? They spend so much money! They must be consumption items! 

Talk to parents and you will hear them telling you how much money they spend on their children.

Scary stuff, children.



Of course, if we think that children will take care of us in our old age, will give us pocket money, will bring us on paid holidays and will pay for our hospital visits, for examples, then, children could be an investment for our golden years. Yes, children could be investments too!

Now, we are in a fix. Consumption or investment?

Well, I think that this falls in the realm of speculation. 

Children might grow up to be very accomplished and filial or they might not. There is no guarantee that the "investment" would turn out the way we want it.

So, I feel that it is only prudent that people who want to have children treat them as consumption items. Think of spending money on children like we would spend money on a hobby or a household pet. They will provide enjoyment, I hope, anyway, but unlike a hobby, we cannot give up on them and unlike a household pet, children have far longer lifespans, I assume. 

As with all consumption items, we do not expect any financial rewards.

Well, some readers told me that I should think of my CPF savings as a bonus if I should see the money in my old age because the government could change the rules again. I feel that couples who think of children as "investments" should adopt this mind-set towards their CPF savings and their children. Don't you think so?

Frankly, to think that children are assets we can rely upon financially in our old age, we could be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

If I had a choice, my bet is on my CPF savings.

Related posts:
1. Financially prepared to be married?
2. Not enough money to be married.
3. Financial Freedom is a family affair.
4. Warren Buffett Illustrated.
5. Little Book that Beats the Market.
"It is written for the non-financial professional, but all could learn from this simple, but powerful concept."

43 comments:

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Bad AK!

Knock your head!

Certain topics are best left to the experiential nod or wink of an eye.

Words are a poor medium of communication here.

Comparing children to either consumption or investment somehow just leave a weird aftertaste in the mouth.

Would you feel elated your parents tell you you are their "consumption"?

Telling you you are the bundle of joy of their consummation has a better ring to it ;)

Boo...

AK71 said...

Hi SMOL,

Hahahaha... The moment I clicked on the "publish" button, I knew I would be getting some knocks on the head. ;p

I like to think that I am an investment that has gone right. Well, I hope so anyway. :)

B said...

Hi AK

I agree with smol there.

I think after having a kid of my own, I really do not see them either as consumption or asset, even if the fact that it does cost expenses to bring them up. How I view them is the outcome of a fruit of our love with my wife together. As cheesy as it may sounds I really feel the case after having one of my own. Of course you need to get the mentality and the preparedness of all the admin financial stuff ready before you are ready to have a children but I wouldn't want to discourage anyone who are thinking about whether having them is an asset or liability.

They are gift from heaven, at least thats what I truly believe ;)

AK71 said...

Hi B,

Yikes. I am not religious about stuff like this or anything for that matter.

I am sure I have some rather controversial ideas and some might even say that they are subversive. However, I have no intention to convert anyone at all to my way of thinking.

Just talking to myself again, as usual, and if it has provided some food for thought, it could be a good thing, especially for those who are entertaining thoughts of their children being their future money trees. ;)

meesiam said...

Ak
since u can build your portfolio so successfully, i believe you can raise your kids well too. So no worry is an asset or liabilities, eventually it builds up to your 'net worth' :)

AK71 said...

Hi meesiam,

Er... I do not see the connection. Do good investors make good parents? Hmmm...

Anyway, I don't think I am a good investor. -.-"

AhJohn said...

For me, marriage and having children is part of whole life. Without this experience, really pity. Money doesn't mean anything except we expend it. So most important is what life we have after we look back when we are really old. What kind of feeling when your baby open his eye, when he try his first step, ......?

AhJohn said...

苦中作乐

AK71 said...

Hi Ah John,

Hmmm... Going by the comments here and in FB, I think people might have misunderstood my blog post. I am not discouraging people from having kids. I am just trying to discourage people from thinking that children are future money trees... -.-"

INVS 2.0 said...

The bottom line is - do you have enough fate to meet your life partner? Or, are you skilled enough to successfully court a woman? There is a reason why we are still single. :/

Solace said...

Children definitely not money tree, I agree one have to plan out the financial 1st before deciding on a kid.

I did ask my parents, relatives and friends why did they choose to raise children ? I believe they are definitely more financial well off if they do not have kids.

The answer I get from them is more or less similar. Most will agree that kids are a financial burden but they see that as a "Happy Burden"

Many would share that it is an experience can't be replicated with cash on hand. Humans connections can go very deep and complex.

Much food for thought

AK71 said...

Hi INVS 2.0,

Well, I am quite philosophical. If it happens, it happens. ;)

AK71 said...

Hi Solace,

Yup, there is much that is intangible. Human relationships are definitely intangibles.

Sometimes, we do certain things because of some fuzzy feelings. It could be quite irrational but we go ahead anyway. Why? Answer: Because we are human.

Having said this, I believe that Singapore of the 70s was a less expensive place. Just look at the prices of apartments and cars then and now. It would have been less of a financial burden then to have children, I feel.

Candy188 said...

By ensuring the monthly cash flow meet the living expense,

& save a portion of the fund for investment, emergency & retirement,

raising kids in Singapore would become a joy rather of pain.

AK71 said...

Hi Candy,

Sounds like a sound approach, if I do say so myself. :)

B said...

Ahh sorry for reading it wrongly.

My poor command of English leads it that way ;).

I know you hv no intent whatsoever, pls dont take it to heart :)

AK71 said...

Hi B,

I believe that this blog post has achieved its purpose. It has generated a lot of discussion on my FB wall. If I had not blogged in the way that I did, it might not have generated as much interest. ;p

Thank you so much for taking time out from you busy schedule as a newly minted father to leave a comment here. ;)

sillyinvestor said...

Wow.. So many comments. I am pessimistic, I always told my wife, forget about our son taking care of us when we are old, the more transactional our relationship with our kids, the more they will view it that way. Just don't squandered our retirement fund and leave us in the street good enough already. Be independent, we have to depend on each other, not our son.

In fact, I always tell my wife, be ready to let him go. Let him fly, and if he comes back, he always will. I always have this worry that my wife is too sticky to my son.

For those who think of their kids as money trees, good luck. I rather my son come home once a week to have a meal together. I do hope he pay for the meal though... Hahahah. Than having my son transfer x amount of money every month but I never get to see him until festival, not even when I need to go hospital.

Well, maybe those who treat their kids as money trees just want money transferred to their accounts.

I agree it is a happy burden, so they technically dun own us anything. And hey, if we do need to put a money term to it, it is a high cost blue chip investment, which u will see it grow and grow if u manage it properly. But the thing is, you dun own it. Muhahaha

AK71 said...

Hi Mike,

I was just sharing in FB that this is a cultural thing. The Chinese have sayings such as:

有屋不怕寒露风,有子不怕老来穷。

三十不豪,四十不富,五十全仗子来助。

There are many references to how we should depend on our children for a good life in our old age.

So, it is not surprising that many parents actually think like this. -.-"

sillyinvestor said...

Btw AK, I saying this definitely not to "knock" your head, but as a virtual friend, I have some thoughts.

U believe your should be responsible for your kid, and give him/ her a name so that he won't be discriminated and called a "bast***", then why not give the girl with u a name aka wife so that she won't be called cheap.

Hey, dun get defensive, I am totally cool with cohabiting if that is what both adults want, be free, without burden.

But I think most Asian girls still want some security, and appreciation, or at least the girl family would think so. How would u feel if one day, your daughter says she really like this cool soul mate and hey he thinks the same, think marriage is a piece of paper and she is just going to cohabit with him. How would a parent feel? How would a fillial daughter want to do this to her parents?

Unless as I said, the whole family including the girl is modern in thinking and think marriage is just a piece of paper.

Btw, shares is also a piece of paper in the CDP account, but without it, u can't trade shares.

No offense. Just a kaypo but with good intention advice.. Haha

Phyllis T said...

Hi AK

Even though I am single, I wont say that children or weddings are consumption items!!! Love is very much involved here. I must say parental love is one of the most unconditional love of all. It will always be. U have indeed struck a raw nerve here. ;p

pf said...

Guys don't make things happen anymore? -_-"

PSTan said...

While there are many parents that probably told you to 养儿防老. But you would realized that many do not preach what they say.

The reality is that the parent always treat us like kids and worry for us even when we become adult and even after we have our own kids. The reality is that most of our parent had contributed much more to us than really depend on us or took $$ from us.

AK71 said...

Hi Mike,

Hahaha... It is about finding the right partner who thinks like you. Has to be a good match in more ways than one. Otherwise, better to stay single. ;)

I have been thinking lately of living my life for myself. I have always lived for others and I think it is about time I think about me. :)

Anyway, that is not what this blog post is about lah. -.-"

AK71 said...

Hi Phyllis,

I like to think that it is true but I can say for sure it is not true that all parents give unconditional love to their children. Not all parents are good parents. This is the truth.

If you cannot think of even one example amongst friends and relatives who have terrible parents, I think you are really lucky. :)

AK71 said...

Hi pf,

Make things happen? Aiyoh, too cheem. I don't understand. -.-"

AK71 said...

Hi PS,

It is also true that there are many examples of parents who expect their children to make money for them to spend.

This blog post is targeted at people with that kind of mentality, people who think that having children is to have a source of passive income. -.-"

pf said...

Meaning guys r more laid back nowadays. The mindset like yours...if it happens, it happens. So become more passive. Waiting for girls to make the moves.

AK71 said...

Hi pf,

Could be the case although it has not happened before. Old, fat and ugly men are not very popular. -.-"

pf said...

Yar lah....so won't happen lor since nobody decided to make it happen mah.

EY said...

Hi AK,

Kinship cannot be measured by ROI. If that's the basis used, then of course a lot of things don't make economic sense.

Fair for parents to expect financial returns from raising us? Could we interpret that as an expectation of a tangible form of filial piety? :)

My bro used to say that I was raised to be an ATM and that pricked because it was how I often felt! I guess it is easier to reconcile if parents do not have the means to take care of their own financial needs. But for folks who have received a decent education and could have done more to prepare for their retirement, I find such an mentality totally unacceptable. Just like women who think that a husband is a meal ticket and he is obliged to provide for all her needs and wants.

I can't imagine my kids having to shoulder the increasing cost of living and still be burdened with providing for my holidays and frivolous purchases. Shame on me as a mum if I do!

But of course I can't say that I have no expectations. Minimally, they should feel obliged to look after me when I'm ill and have patience when I become forgetful or less mobile. I hope that's not a lot to wish for.

AK71 said...

Hi Endrene,

I think the correct modal to use is "should". Kinship "should" not have to provide any ROI. However, there are many people who think otherwise and, actually, kinship can be tagged with a ROI, if we want to do it. Sensible or not is subjective. I am sure we have seen enough examples of this out there. :(

I know people who have University degrees, Polytechnic diplomas and "A" levels certificates who think that their children should take care of them financially in their old age. Have these parents received a decent education? What is a decent education?

Unfortunately, parenting is a domestic affair and tends to be very sensitive. So, although I felt like saying something when I encountered such instances of what I considered to be bad parenting, I kept quiet. This is where blogging comes in. ;p

EY said...

Yes, sir. Wrong modal use! :P

Decent education? Someone who is literate and numerate lor. Good enough to be gainfully employed and earn a salary that will have some surplus if managed prudently.

Chances are, parents who put a numerical worth on child raising and the ROI will see their children taking on a utilitarian view in life and measure their parents' worth in a similar manner too.

Bad parenting? We'll reap what we sow. No need to argue or debate.

But certainly, everyone is entitled to his opinion, especially a blogger. Hor? :P

AK71 said...

Hi Endrene,

LOL. ;p

Well, this is really a sensitive topic and even more sensitive than the topic on weddings, going by the number of comments received as well as the level of energy that the comments have. Quite scary, actually. -.-"

For sure, everyone is entitled to his or her opinions but when an opinion affects fellow human beings in a detrimental manner, should not that entitlement be curtailed? Draconian sounding? Oh, dear. Bad AK, bad AK! -.-"

David said...

Maybe this is more of a Singapore mentality and the way we are brought up. The Meritocratic mindset has been instilled in the current generation to the point that kids are calculated in Pros/ cons, dollars and cents.

Personally if Life / Living is all about Dollars and Cents, and all our relationships/ interactions with people amount to $$ and cents, then it's really a poor state of living.

If we build relationships because we want are looking for monetary gain, then it is the lowest level of relationship, where one gains, and the other looses(parasite). However if we go into a relationship because of mutual understanding / common activity and some common bond -which cannot be calculated in monetary terms --it does result in a strong meaningful relationship.

As for kids. I have this friend in his 40s, when by 'accident' he had his first kid. Before that I did ask him - why not have a kid, he said too troublesome, time, $$ etc etc. After he had the kid, it's now his pride and joy -and upon reflection; he regretted not having at least 1 kid earlier in his life. Kids are more then dollars and cents. Fulfillment cannot be measure in dollars and cents. Building up another life, nuturing, building up another person that would contribute to society cannot be measured in dollars and cents - even though it does cost $$.
On the flip side, I do think as couples if we do plan to have kids - we need to be prudent and manage our finances, expectations and life style properly. It would be highly irresponsible for us as parents to have 5 kids ; when our financials cannot support them materially, emotionally and pull them through a proper education so that they have the chance to be succeeful. At the same time, I also do not agree that there are parents who are well off; but when the kid come out - leave it to their inlaws, maids, tuition to bring up their kids :)

A child is a blessing to the family. It might be painful for a short time but it is a worthwhile endeavour.

AK71 said...

Hi David,

Thanks for sharing. It is obvious that you have spent a lot of time thinking about the matter. Appreciate it. :)

I don't think it is the fault of the Singaporean system although the bill introduced by Walter Woon and which became the Maintenance of Parents Act subsequently could take a bit of credit. ;)

I feel that the idea that children must provide financial support for parents is deeply entrenched in the Chinese psyche. Something that is cultural cannot be easily changed.

David said...

Hi AK,

any any relationship, whether it be Parent-child, Friend-Friend,Colleagues, Father-son, it's good to set expectations and boundaries. Unfortunately in our current societal context, we're bombarded by western values of "Freedom without cost" - which in itself is a paradox, where is there freedom without a Price?

As a parent, it is up to us to set the boundaries and expectations on our kids. The boundaries shift as they grow up - and as parents we feel we have equipped them with social, moral, logical, and foundational backbone to act on their own beliefs and expectations and make their own decisions at the right time. Expectations that are set must be a. bite sizes b.achievable c. measurable.

There is a clash of values: our asian confucius - of respecting / honoring parents and the western culture - where kids are now considered as "young adults" and therefore should have the rights as adults even before they can make right decisions. (that in itself is a long topic of discussion and potentially a hotplate). My belief is that if we equipe our kids with the values that we hold dear too (and maybe navigated by current societal issues /needs etc) , then it's up to the next generation to decide on how to act on those frameworks that we as parents have placed in them- when it's their turn.
The worst situation is to expect kids to be adults and ask them to make adult decisions when their moral/thought processes are not instilled and buildup.

BTW. I agree its a HOT TOPIC. No real right or wrong,..too many variable to consider.

AK71 said...

Hi David,

Oh, I agree that this is one HOT potato. I wonder why did I ever open this can of worms. -.-"

Thanks so much for the follow up comment. I definitely agree that parents can only do so much (and, hopefully, they have done all the right things). Then, they can only hope that their children turn out right. :)

Things will evolve over time. It is only natural and there is no fighting that. Parents are only one part (although a big one) of the total picture, after all. Keep your fingers crossed. ;)

EY said...

Hi AK,

Here's a nice article to compliment your blog post. Family values from the eye of an economist. This article pays tribute to the Gary Becker, a Nobel prize winning economist and a trailblazer in applying economics to matters of love and family matters.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21601841-economists-everywhere-should-mourn-passing-gary-becker-great-trailblazer?frsc=dg%7Ca

He observed that parents see their investment in children as a form of savings for old age and he talked about the opportunity cost of raising children.

AK71 said...

Hi Endrene,

Thanks for this. Appreciate it. :D

AK71 said...

From my FB wall:

Terence Tan:

"Having a kid is not cheap in Singapore. Cost 5-10k to deliver in local hospital. This excludes the cost of consultation through the 9 months period.

"Provided the kid doesn't fall sick, you will have to fork out quite an amount for the kid to see a doc. Baby milk powder, diapers, wipes, clothes, semi solid food.. Yearly expenditure should be around 15-20k inclusive of education, daily necessities, food and lodging.

"That's my expenditure now. No way to reduce the amount without compromising the quality."

AK71 said...

From my FB wall:

Jack James:
"We don't calculate in that sense . And I also think the figure is not that high , seriously . Government subsidizes A LOT in many other ways ."

Terence Tan:
"You seriously read too much into govt subsidy. The 6k they gave me and 6k bank gives me is not enough to pay for my son's bill. FYI, my son is very healthy and does not require many trips to the doc other than his usual vaccine.

"Vaccination package cost a few thousand. Of cos you can choose the cheaper alternative to receive the vaccination through polyclinics or other clinics. But each injection will be painful and cause your kid to cry. The package is there because these pediatrician is license to give you a 'package' jab like 5-in-1. You kid only need to receive 1 jab instead of 5 if you take up the package with your pediatrician. This is only the starting cos you need to jab you kid until 18 mths old.

"Ever thought of infant care ? Its 1500-1800 per month. After subsidy will be like 800-1000 per mth eventually. Both parents are working. Your parents and inlaws might not be willing to help at all. Thus infant care will be your best choice cos you might not trust your domestic helper in this case.

"What about milk powder ? 60-100 per tin. They have milk feeds so frequently that you need at least 2 tin per month. Not forgetting milk bottles, washing liquids, brushes, bottle tits and many more..

"Baby grow up so fast that you need to keep buying new clothes. But this burden can be lessened by getting second hand clothes from family members, relatives or friends.

"When your kid start to walk, you gotta buy walking shoes for toddlers. These shoes worn out so fast, you need like 1 pair every 3 months. I let my son walk a lot because he enjoys walking. The shoes are not cheap too.

"So lets say 800*12(infant care = 9600) +75*2*12(milk powder = 1800) + 5000 (Hospital fees inclusive of delivery in thomson) + 5000 (hospital emergency csec)

"This is only my basic cost for my son. I have given you a very conservative estimate of my cost only. Hospital bills already minimum 10k for me. I remember paying near 15k cos of other misc cost in the hospital. Doesn't matter cos i only want my son to be safely delivered.

"Do some calculations base on my above, close both eyes easily 20k. I havent add the cost immunizations for my kid. From new born to 2 years old, my investment is at least 50k already. Take it down the road when he is 10 years old, more or less should be near $250k figure. This is the price for having a kid.

"Mind you, the picture you show is 250k many years ago. Mine is 0-10 years old only. Thats how expensive it is to bring up a kid in singapore.

"Maybe someone else here have cheaper alternatives, but i would not give my son lesser when i have the ability to give more.

"By the way, my price given is after subsidy if you noticed.. But you can rebut saying that each year it cost lesser and lesser to spend on him. Dont forget how much a degree cost nowadays... Polytechnic diploma cost 7k at least too. Primary & secondary school dont cost much cos of heavy subsidy."

AK71 said...

I cannot remember the exact words but this was a chat this afternoon:

Friend:
Not all children turn out to be good investments.

AK:
Er... Children are never investments.

Friend:
Some children give their parents money. These children are good investments.

AK:
Then, they are speculations which turned out well, not investments

Monthly Popular Posts

 
 
Bloggy Award