Namrata Singh CFP ® and Mom
We are pleased to have Namrata Singh CFP ® from Kolkata, India share with us her childhood money memories and insights on kids and money.
Welcome and thank you Namrata!
Team Sammy: Please share with us a little about yourself and your family so readers get a sense of who you are.
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I have spent all my life in Kolkata, India – the City of Joy. It has been a joyous journey so far.
I have been married for 15 years and I have a daughter 8 years old. My parents are scientists.
I spent a major part of my early childhood with my maternal Grandfather. He was a businessman and my hero. I lost him when I was 12.
My mother has been the pillar of my strength. I lost my father when I was 13 and was raised by my mother – who was the sole breadwinner for our family after my father’s demise. She inspires me to be who I am.
Team Sammy: Tell us about what it was like growing up – your family and community?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I have very fond memories of my childhood – my maternal grandfather was literally like a genie for me and my wish was his command.
It was really strenuous to deal with the reality of life after his demise. I still remember visiting his factory every week and feeding fish in his factory compound.
The factory was shut due to labor unrest and I have seen him going out his way to help his employees. I have memories of him helping others at times beyond his means. He always said “ The Joy of giving is completely unparalleled and is above all other materialistic pleasures.”
Team Sammy: What was one of your first money memories?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I vividly remember visiting the bank as a child with my maternal grandfather. I was always fascinated by the golden token given at the entrance of the bank, which could be converted to cash when presented to the cash counter. I understood the concept of cheques much later in my life.
Team Sammy: What was your first saving experience or memory?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I used to have a decent amount of pocket money as a kid and I managed to save parts of it to buy goodies / gifts for friends on their birthdays.
Team Sammy: Did you save in a piggy bank, savings jar, use envelopes or another mechanism?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I had a piggy bank made of clay.
Team Sammy: Share a little about it with us. What about your children?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: The only way to access the money saved in the clay piggy bank was to break the whole thing. I had at least two piggy banks at all points of time.
My mother gifted a piggy bank to my daughter on her 3rd birthday. The same is now full. I have recently gifted her another one.
Team Sammy: What was your first formal savings account at a bank, credit union or another type enterprise?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I had opened my first savings account as a Minor jointly with my mother. As a teenager, I used to help my mom withdraw cash from the bank and pay sundry household expenses and utility bills. I used to keep records of daily expenses when my mom used to travel for work.
Team Sammy: Did your parents talk to you and/or teach you about money / personal finance growing up? What do you remember? What, if anything stuck?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: Yes, we had discussions about money quite often. My mom always used to say that “You should never spend beyond your means” – your spending should be lower than your income.
She also taught me to donate a fixed percentage of my money every year.
Team Sammy: Who was your primary or one your main money mentors as a child or teen?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: My mother has been my main money mentor as a child
Team Sammy: At what age and how did you come to realize money had a value?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I realized money had a value as a child, maybe before I turned 10. I understood the importance more after I started earning it.
Team Sammy: What was one mistake and one smart money choice you made as a kid or teen?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I understood the concept of savings very early. I managed to make a lot of friends as I could afford to buy them gifts, colas, chocolates – however , the majority of them vanished the day I stopped spending on gifts, colas and chocolates.
Team Sammy: What piqued your interest in personal finance?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: My mother was the sole breadwinner for the family after our father’s death and she also had to make independent investment decisions. Like most Indians, she bought gold jewelry at regular intervals. She always told me that we should always save for hay days and avoid debt. However, she ended up buying some products which simply proved to be bad investments in the long-term yielding lower than fixed deposits.
Basic financial literacy is of paramount importance irrespective of the field you belong to. This is to ensure that you make well informed and thought-out decisions for your hard-earned money. This drives my interest in personal finance. I want to ensure people (especially women) are empowered to make independent financial decisions.
As per actuarial science, women will outlive men and it is of paramount importance for them to understand the basic tenets of personal finance so that they can make well informed decisions.
Team Sammy: Does giving back start with focusing on your own financial health? What should we be teaching kids about giving responsibly?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: We should practice what we preach. Helping others heals me and I am sure it will have the same impact on everyone. We should be teaching our kids about the “Joy of Giving!”
Team Sammy: One question I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: Start saving early in life and spend within your means. This is what I have learnt from my mother. This is what has helped me take a bootcamp in leadership (career break) when my daughter was born. My savings also helped me start my firm Arthasadhana Investments.
Team Sammy: Is it important to teach kids about money? Why? At what age should parents start?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: It is extremely important to teach kids about money. It will help them manage their personal savings well, avoid debt traps and become responsible citizens.
Team Sammy: Should personal finance be taught in schools?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: Personal Finance should definitely be introduced as a subject in High School.
Team Sammy: What is more important: how much you make; how you manage what you make; or some other factor?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: How much one makes is important until a certain level of sustenance, post that how you manage becomes the most important criteria.
Team Sammy: Do you have any thoughts on student debt?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: I never had debt as a student. My mother did not want to over burden me with a student loan in the early years of my career. She had paid my fees from her personal savings. I am indebted to her for this.
I am already saving for my child’s education and helping my client’s do the same.
Team Sammy: Do you have any thoughts on credit cards?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: Credit Cards are a great tool for people who do not need credit. (Some credit cards have amazing reward programs). For people needing credit – one should remember that the annual interest can be over 30%. The same should be avoided at all costs. I generally advise clients to create an emergency fund for contingencies and discourage them from using credit cards.
Team Sammy: Do you have any financial pet peeves?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: Herd mentality. People end up taking money decisions on the basis of what their friends and peers are doing. Every individual has a unique set of personal circumstances and specific risk appetites. What is right for your friend can be a nightmare for you. There is no one size fits all in personal finance.
Team Sammy: What is your favorite book on personal finance or money management. Does one lesson stand out – what is it?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: My favorite book on personal finance is “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel.
The one lesson that stands out and is one of the top contributing factors leading to stress related to money management as per Morgan Housel is “Spending money to show people how much you have is the fastest way to have less money”.
It is so important to be focused on our personal journeys rather than focusing on what your friends and family members are doing.
Team Sammy: Do you have a favorite quote on money?
Namrata Singh CFP ®: One of my favorite quotes is:
“The correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising. We have to plan for our plan not going according to plan” – By Morgan Housel
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