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3 Skills You Can Learn From Your Parents That Save You Money and Benefit Your Career

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Joanne Poh

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Can you believe that it’s been only 5 years since Gardens by the Bay came into existence, and 7 years since Marina Bay Sands opened its doors? Heck, ten years ago Orchard Road was the coolest place to be, and now in 2017 it is dying despite the government’s desperate attempts at resuscitation.

Meanwhile, how we work and think about our careers has also changed dramatically. The GDP has grown tremendously over the past two decades, but Singaporeans also now work some of the world’s longest hours. Retrenchment at middle age is becoming scarily common, people jump ship for new jobs at the drop of a hat and more and more people are working as freelancers.

So it’s all too easy to think that advice from anyone born before 1991 is too old-fashioned and outmoded to be of any use in 2017.

But before you dismiss any advice from the old side as obsolete, here are three things you can learn from your parents that might actually improve your finances and help you work better without killing your soul.

 

Cooking

Many Singaporeans grew up eating home cooked food, but are themselves useless in the kitchen. In fact, as many as 65% in a 2014 survey said their cooking skills were terrible.

If your parents prepared meals for you growing up, they’re a valuable source of free cooking classes and practical tips. Stand beside your mum and watch every time she prepares a meal, and you’ll learn a lot more than any number of fancy cooking classes can teach you.

Learning to cook and actually making most of your meals at home instead of eating out will help you save not just money but also your health. You can modify recipes according to your health needs, which is very difficult to do when you eat out no matter how much you nag the hawker/chef to add less oil or salt to your order.

 

Child-rearing

If you’re a parent or about to become one, you might be feeling overwhelmed. How do you learn how to raise a child while trying to stay afloat at work?

No matter what you think of your own mother and father’s parenting methods, they can still be a valuable source of practical information.

While you don’t have to cane your kids if they don’t get 100 marks on their exams just because your parents did that to you, you can certainly learn much more efficiently how to change diapers, persuade a crying baby to sleep, teach a child to ride a bicycle and clean a kid’s white canvas school shoes without having to resort to Google or paying someone to do it for you.

 

Dialect skills

Once upon a time, Chinese dialects (strictly speaking, they are actually separate languages, but have been given the status of dialects for political reasons) were thought of as useless and an impediment to Singaporeans’ proficiency in the languages that “mattered”. As a result, we’ve got a generation of young Singaporeans who can’t speak the real mother tongue of their parents and grandparents.

Now, some people are finding that dialect skills can actually help them do their job better. For instance, anyone who works in healthcare knows, serving elderly clients can be difficult if there is nobody around who can speak their dialect. Those working with the local community, whether through community service, customer service, community law and so on, will find their knowledge of dialects useful at some point or other.

There’s been a recent revival of dialect classes in Singapore, but as everyone knows you can’t learn a language by attending classes alone. If your parents are fluent in your dialect(s), they are the perfect people to practise with and learn from.

Have you learnt any other useful skills from your parents? Share your stories in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.