Tuesday, January 8, 2013

.: Financial Stewardship :.

The typical stereotype of an accountant would be “Oh, you are an accountant? Must be kiamsap (stingy)!”

Firstly, this is a stereotyping statement. There are many accountants out there who are not by any means stingy or frugal, quite the opposite really. Heck, there are even handfuls that I know who are not very careful with their money (albeit poor financial management).

The reason for this post today was that last night, before bed, the Husband & I was having this conversation (ok fine, it’s more like I couldn’t sleep, so I wake up the poor Husband and talked to him). We were talking about our childhood, and he told me stories of how his parents had been very very careful with their money as they didn’t have much. You see, both his parents are teachers (government servants) and hence of a slightly average income. They did not live in poverty of course, but there are many little luxuries that they are denied of. For e.g. trips outstation/overseas, eating out or eating at fast food joints, etc.

For my family, we too didn’t come from a rich background. My dad started from the bottom of the ladder as a clerk, equipped with a basic diploma, to be where he is today. As for my mom, she was a small-town Malacca girl that was travelled to KL to find a job that would support her and her younger siblings.

If you know the both of us well, you would know that we are very prudent with our money. I would like to think frugal slightly bordering stingy, but I suppose some may beg to differ.

The reason I am the way I am, is really because of my parents. They have taught me the value of money at a very young age – and tho I didn’t understand at that time, and perhaps have wailed and cried my lungs out a couple of time when they didn’t get me what I wanted, I now take that as a very precious lesson. My parents do not believe in spending money unnecessarily – why pay RM100, when you can pay RM10 for an item that provides the same function at an equal quality, if not better? They also believe that you should always do your research before making a purchase decision, to get the best quality at the best price. For e.g., you’d be surprise to know how much we could save from doing a lil research, and with the help of Uncle Google, you literally have all the info you need on your fingertips. My own add on to this is the concept of “opportunity & time cost”, which I in turn tried to educate my mom on.

As for the husband, his values are instilled to him at a very young age. Until this day, he remembers the lesson that his dad taught him on compound interest – one of the 8th wonder of the world. He also learned from his mom on the power of savings, but his on add on is the power of investments, where your returns is twice as high (or even more) than the normal put-in-FD mentality.

With the two of us combined, we sync very well in terms of financial management of our household, namely because we both have the similar sense of value, which is a good thing. On the other hand, I was putting up this challenge to The Husband to relook into our spending/saving habits and also looking into it on a long-term basis. In short, we went to bed without a conclusion, but it’s definitely a thought that I will revisit soon again.

When I was having this conversation, it brought tears to my eyes, telling my husband the stories of my maternal grandpa’s struggle as a kid living in poverty. My grandpa is unbelievable frugal and up to his dying days, he was still thinking about saving a couple of dollars.

I know that in the end, money isn’t everything. It is very true, but even the Bible tells us that we must be careful with our spendings i.e. practice good financial stewardship. What are your thoughts?

The wise store up choice food and olive oil,but fools gulp theirs down. Proverbs 21:20

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Luke 14:28-30

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