Michelle Martin Personal Finance Broadcaster
We are pleased to have Michelle Martin personal finance broadcaster and host of “Your Money with Michelle Martin” share with us some of her “First” childhood money memories.
Welcome and thank you Michelle!
Michelle is an award-winning broadcaster and Tedx speaker. She’s worked in radio and television across two of Singapore’s biggest media networks. She has been in the media business for 20 years. Her shows and voice-overs have won awards in the field of journalism, diversity and women’s empowerment.
Financial literacy is at the heart of the broadcaster show “Your Money with Michelle Martin”. The show airs live on Singapore business station MoneyFM89.3. It hit Number 1 on Apple Podcast Charts for Investing (Singapore, 2021)
Discover more about Michelle at: MichelleMartinLive.com
First Saving Experience
My most vivid money memory was formed when I was four. I was shopping with Dad for a birthday present for Mum. At the time, she was taking up a new hobby; a course in Shanghainese tailoring.
I had found a box of sewing threads. The mass of jewelled shades was the most beautiful thing I was able to find in that shop. The gift would cost me all of $5.
I turned to Dad expectantly. I will always remember his response. Dad smiled and asked me. “How are you going to pay for it?”
I was shocked. At that point, I had never even handled money much less had any of my own.
Dad stood his ground. He didn’t offer a loan or ideas on how I could earn that money.
It was then, that the concept of what money represented really came alive for me.
I walked out of that shop empty-handed. It was only when I went to school at age 6 and had pocket-money of my own that I could afford to buy gifts for people!
That experience taught me to never expect someone else to make my dreams come true and if I wanted something, I was going to have to figure out how to earn my way to making it a reality.
I was always expected to find work during school vacation. So, I would scour the papers for any sort of part-time work.
My first job during school break was at age 16 was. I had to stand for 10 hours a day at a mall and sell what I thought was stylish, lightweight, cosmetic jewelry.
I couldn’t sit because the brand really believed its salespeople had to stand to be considered professional.
The job was physically tiring and paid a grand total of $600 for a month of work.
It may have been my first job but I like to think I learnt many lessons that went beyond the paycheck. Watching the other pro salesgirls, I learnt a lot about the art of sales. The job also taught me about budgeting since it was the first time I had to spend on things like transport and food in order to make money.
First Big Money Mistake
After I passed my driving test on my first attempt when my friends were struggling with their second and third tries, I triumphantly decided I was going to reward myself by buying a cute, second-hand car.
“Jasmine” looked adorable but turned out to be the biggest money trap I would voluntarily let into my adult life. I was about 20 and had no idea how to evaluate a car on sight or to think through a used car contract. I relied on my boyfriend’s referral for a car dealership and he in turn, relied on a friend’s recommendation.
For the first three months, Jasmine, my beautiful aquamarine sedan drove like a dream. But come month 4, when the warranty ran out, she just stopped working.
The car would stall in the most inconvenient of places. I would stall in carparks with a line of angry drivers honking behind me all stuck on the carpark entrance ramp.
I also remember my wheel hubs would simply roll off all on their own on the road.
“Jasmine” was a very expensive money lesson.
I hadn’t even looked at the interest I was going to be paying when I signed that sales contract on the loan for it. However, I was smart enough to buy a car with just one year of life on its COE (certificate of entitlement). So, the fact that it was a 9 year old hazard of a car, limited the amount of money I wasted on it.
It was a very expensive “impulse buy”. It taught me the value of trusting myself and taking time to research purchases before I signed off on anything. Lesson learned. I now do that – take my time to really understand the true cost of whatever I am buying.
First Great Money Habit
I have an extremely cranky Aunt who rarely says anything to me. But one day, she did share a money lesson that I have always been grateful for.
I was still a teenager and a long way from having a salary. She said, “Michelle, save something from the first month you get paid, and never touch it.”
I did. I started with $100 and increased the sum along the way.
I have found the best way to save is to start a separate account, transfer money to it automatically and just forget about it. Do the same with investing. Start a separate account.
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