What To Do With Your Children’s Hong Bao Money?

Happy Lunar New Year! Wishing everyone here good health and may your wealth multiply in the years to come. Hopefully, the last 4 days have been one where you have been giving/receiving or your child has been receiving hongbao. One common question that I go from parents with regards to financial planning is what they should do with the money. Most of them are keeping it for their children as emergency funds. This is a good initiative. That being said, is this an opportunity to share money lessons with your children?

What To Do With Your Children's Hong Bao Money
What To Do With Your Children’s Hong Bao Money (Source)


Your intention sets the tone

What do you want your child to learn from receiving the hongbao? Is it gratitude? Is it charity? Is it spending? Is it emergency funds? Your intention sets your child’s tone. By default, people will stick to the easiest thing of all: Not doing anything. This is precisely why most parents are keeping their children’s money as emergency funds. (PS: I’m not saying that emergency funds is a bad thing. It is also important.)

However, as the child do not have much ownership of the funds, they do not really learn from that concept. To them, it is their parents are keeping their money for them.

So what can you do this year to inspire your children to take charge of their money. This may or may not be applicable and felt by you depending on your relationship with money. Here are some suggestions.


Happiness of Spending Money

Wait a minute. A finance blog asking me to spend money? Yes. It came to my attention that “saving money” or “spending money” has became such a pain for people. As our education on money commonly involves parents screaming at us to save money (or that they don’t have money), it has become very hard for some people to spend mentality. Each time you spend, you will feel a pinch when you see your bank balance drop. That’s commonly known as the poverty or scarcity mindset. Eventually, you might grow up with enough money in your bank but feeling miserable that you don’t have enough.

What To Do With Your Children's Hong Bao Money Spend It
What To Do With Your Children’s Hong Bao Money Spend It

As parents, one of the best thing you can do for them is let them buy something that they have already wanted for a long time. Take 20%, $30 or whatever amount (be reasonable) in their hongbao money and bring them to the shopping center. Let them buy whatever they want. Let them feel the happiness of what money can buy. You will be surprised that some children will buy books, stationaries and of course toys. You can take this chance to introduce to them the 4 Quadrants Shopping Guide.

Let them take charge of their finances, the earlier they do, the more responsible they will become.


Delayed Gratification

To balance it up with spending, delayed gratification is next. A simple game you can play with your children is called The Marshmallow Test. I won’t explain too much here. Wait this hilarious video on how children wrestle with waiting to eat a marshmallow in hopes of a bigger prize (more marshmallows).

In finance, the timeline would be longer than this test. The intention is to get the children to save their hongbao money for a longer period of time so that they can get back more at a certain age. This could be done by a simple endowment plan or just Singapore Government Bonds that matures after a set period. When they receive the money after xx years, you can calculate with them (do it with them) how much they have put in and compare it to how much they have received. This can be done with your financial advisor.


Investing Lessons

This opens up many lessons for young children. You can share with them about volatility, about index (example if you invests in a Country ETF), about companies (example: when apple makes money, you “make” money too), about value or about growth.

One of the easiest way is to invest in companies that they already know. For illustration, my example will be SBS Transits.

Disclaimer: Not a buy/sell recommendation here.

For children, they probably will be familiar with certain products such as the IPhone, Bus services, Netflix etc. When you invest their money (they can only open a brokerage account when they are 18) for them, they get to see if their money grows in terms of capital appreciation or dividends. You can consider investing for them once a year as a dollar cost averaging approach for them to build up their portfolio.

For those of you would like to have something simpler, consider investing into country ETF like the STI Index, China ETF or S&P500. When the particular country does well, they are able to see the value of their investment grow as well. Similarly, do consider a dollar cost averaging approach for your children and invite them to ask questions. This is a great opportunity to for your children to learn about investing either with yourself or your trusted financial advisor.

What To Do With Your Children's Hong Bao Money Investing
What To Do With Your Children’s Hong Bao Money Investing (Source)

Final thoughts by Wealthdojo

I cannot imagine how much of a head start your children will have if they start learn these money lessons as some adults take decades to learn these. Let me know what you guys think in the comments below.

We wish you a Happy Lunar New Year!



Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.  

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.

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