Moments after attending a financial literacy course conducted at Planet J Learning Centre, I managed to save nearly $5000 by geting El to change his decision of going to Brisbane to Perth for a holiday. Previously, he had refused to consider any alternatives.
Both places are in Australia, but the cost difference is huge. He wanted to go to the Australia Zoo, operated by the Irwin family, but air tickets to Brisbane were twice that of Perth. Since the whole family and my parents would be going together, the cost would be astronomical.
There are also similar animals in Perth, so it should still be a similar experience. This would be our first trip overseas, and the children need to get used to travelling first.
We were invited to Planet J Learning Centre located at Soo Chow Walk, which was right beside Thomson Plaza. It was located on the second floor of a row of shophouses. It is nestled in a quiet private estate, yet close to amenities.
It is a new student care centre, and they offer programmes during the holidays. The place was very pleasant and was renovated. There were a few rooms for classes and students.
While waiting for the class to start, the children were playing a soccer game where they have to move around and kick imaginary balls. El was very excited by that. It is good that it was an active game.
After attending a preview of Raising A Financially Savvy Kid conducted by Ernest Tan, an experienced Certified Financial Planner, Master Money Coach, and Wealth Trainer, El has learnt a few money managing tips. I have also learnt a few tips to help El learn how to manage his money, which would be very important as he is going to Primary One next year.
Ernest asked both the parents and children questions about money first. That allowed us to find out the attitudes children have towards money. When asked what he would do if he did not have money, I was surprised that El said he would work to earn money. I did not talk much about money to him, but I think he knows that both my husband and I work hard to earn money.
Ernest mentioned that some children actually said if they had no money, they would get the money from their fathers. Others said they would get money from the wall. The latter tickled me because my brother used to tell my mother that when she said she had no money to buy new toys for him. These answers worried the trainer as they did not see the value of money.
The children played a few rounds of a board game. It was modelled after Rich Dad Poor Dad’s Cashflow game. They had to make choices, such as to decide whether to save money, spend money or earn money. Sometimes, expenses were not compulsory.
To my surprise, El would spend money to buy sweets and ice cream if there were huge discounts offered. He was modelling my behaviour. I would keep saying no to buying new packages at the beauty salon, but when they start piling me with freebies and discounts, I would cave in.
There were also certain rules, such as shouting ‘Allowance Day’ in order to get an allowance. I thought it was interesting as children needed to learn rules and at the same time, not get distracted easily. If not, money would be gone.
Up till now, El has not seen his bank book. His father gives him $1 coins so that he could save the money in a piggy bank. However, we did not bring him to deposit this money. Hence, he did not have much of a concept of putting money into the bank to earn interest. When Ernest offered the children $5 interest if they saved $50 with the bank, all of them grabbed the opportunity except for El. He was used to seeing money physically, and thought the money would be gone if he put everything in.
He also handed his ang pows to us, and my husband and I would be so busy we did not even open them until end of the year, before we put the money into the bank on our own. I think I would make a more conscious effort to take him to the bank.
At the end of the class, we were introduced the money jar system. Instead of giving them the exact amount needed for recess, and then hope that they have some money left over to save, we should pay ourselves first. This is a concept that I do, after reading countless wealth management books. Every month, I would transfer money to my other saving accounts before spending the rest.
For this to take place, parents could give children loose change, so that they can save a portion of it. I had read somewhere before that we should not give daily pocket money, but instead, give weekly pocket money for younger children, and then give monthly pocket money for older children, so that they can learn to manage money.
This is certainly something I will implement for pocket money when El goes to Primary One next year.
I am extremely pleased with the various strategies both of us had picked up, and I think that children should have financial literacy classes.
After the lesson, the children had some delicious snacks. The children attending student care here would definitely be well taken care of. The cosy centre is well maintained and clean.
Serene, one of the owners, explained that the students would have supervision as they did their homework. They would also be given opportunities to go to the nearby park for some outdoor activities. They have weekly discussions on handling various situations the children may encounter in school. If they require private tuition, there would be smaller rooms for them to have their own tutors over. They could even go for their piano lessons as the staff would drive them to their destination, with additional arrangements between parents and the centre.
Since more parents work late nowadays, the centre has an Extended Hour Service where they would provide dinner and even drive the students home at 8pm if they live within 5km. Of course, additional services would require additional charges, but I believe for busy parents, the time saved in fetching their children and the knowledge that their children would be in good hands would outweigh this.
There are many other vacation programmes that the centre is holding. They look pretty interesting, such as CSI, Lego robotics, creative writing with lego (which I had seen before), on top of the financial literacy course that we have just attended.
For more information, visit Planet J Learning Centre website. They are located at 99A Soo Chow Walk Singapore 573784 . You may park at the private estate or at the nearby Thomson Plaza. Call them at Tel: 6451 0080 on weekdays.
Note: El and I were invited to a preview of the financial literacy course for review.