Growing up in a rather poor financial situation, my mother often taught us to be thrifty. My parents are not well educated and they were blue-collar workers. We barely make ends meet, but we are grateful when we don’t have to worry about whether we can have a simple next meal. My parents worked hard, especially my mother who ensured that we get to eat well and grow well.
Time hit us hard when I was in Primary 3. My mother was retrenched from her factory job due to a recession. She had to work odd jobs like doing thousands of paperwork (stick, fold, cut promotional standees/folders), washing the dishes for coffee shop stalls, and even being a part-time cleaner for households. I even contemplated helping the stall to wash the dishes, so my mother has more time to go to more houses to clean.
At the time, a packet of sweets or chocolate, or even fast food is a luxury to have. We barely had many toys to play with, and can only play if our cousins and friends are willing to share. I don’t know how my mother did it, but we still had our share of tuition if we were poor in a subject and needed help.
Since then, I was thankful that my sister and I were able to qualify to apply for the financial assistance scheme and some bursary yearly until I finished my tertiary education. At least we do not have to worry about the cost of textbooks and uniforms. We even took 2nd hand textbooks to save some money. The good thing is there were already notes written in the book by the senior!
I then started working some part-time jobs at the school bookshop and giving out flyers during school holidays to earn some pocket money at the age of 13. Once I’ve finished my ‘O’ Levels, I went to look for a long-term part-time job to work during my free time after school and on weekends because my parents could only afford to pay for my school fee with some grants. I had to earn my own allowance. While my friends go to the movies or gather after school or on the weekends, I go to work. These eased some burdens and molded us into more resilient and independent people. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
This made me resolute to work hard and earn more so that I will never be financially troubled again. What more I can help more people who were like me. My childhood made me realize that being educated well and applying the knowledge is very important. If my parents were better educated financially, perhaps apart from pure savings they would also learn to grow their earnings. I don’t really blame them because I knew they already gave me the best they could.
Now it is my job to help and educate my parents, and the people whom I can cross paths with to create a better future. It is never too late unless you choose to give up and resign to fate.
Yes, money may not be able to make you happy, but financial stability helps. It will pay for your meals, bills, mortgage, children’s education. Wealth is not about having a lot of money. It is about having a lot of options.