Singaporean working mum, Claudia Lim, shares how the POSB Smart Buddy programme is helping her two daughters learn the value of money, cashless.
I’m really bad at managing money. No one really taught me the importance of savings when I was little. I was never told that I should split my daily pocket money so that I have some to spend, to save and to donate. Being the eldest in the family also meant I got a lot of care and attention from my parents, relatives and grandparents. When I needed more pocket money to buy books or the many erasers, pens and highlighters to overstuff my stationery box, I just had to ask from my gong gong and he would give it to me.
In those days, I was given every opportunity to physically use notes and coins, but I never truly understood the value of money and the importance of saving. The teaching of life values: differentiating between needs and wants, and learning about delayed gratification are much more important life lessons than counting physical notes and coins.
Imagine if someone had told me I could have hundreds of thousands of dollars in my savings account if I had started saving from young. I would have been able to afford a decent car or even upgraded our family to a more desirable house! Oh well, at least I’m starting to plan ahead for my two girls. I am slowly exposing them to the value of money and its importance. The POSB Smart Buddy programme is a good way for me to get them started on financial literacy and pave the road for them to become a wiser spender and better saver.
Never too early to start!
Personally, I’ve tried several different ways to teach my girls the value of money. However, none were followed through for more than a month. Here’s a list of what I tried over the last couple of years:
Reward $1 for each day they attend school – Two years ago, they hated going to school. So I gave them $1 each after dinner when they behaved well in the morning and went to school willingly. This stopped when I ran out of $1 coins.
Complete a well-behave card to redeem reward of their choice – Each “chop” was for a 50-cents reward. They would get a chop when they completed a chore or task well. When they completed the card which came up to about $10 in value, they would get to use the $10 to get something they wanted. This suffered a silent death because it was too troublesome to dig out the card and give them a stamp. Also, the cards couldn’t be found after the first few days.
Setting aside part of their Ang Bao money for their use – This year, I decided to put aside some cold hard cash in a purse each for the girls to use whenever they wanted to buy something for themselves. For the first shopping trip we had together, we remembered to bring along their purses so they each got to pay for their own toys at the cashier. I observed that they would take a lot more time to decide which toy to get when they were using their own money. I thought this was an excellent way for them to learn. Alas, after that first trip, we forgot their purses for subsequent trips to the mall, and I ended up making all the purchases. In addition, as no one was keeping tab of these purchases, the money set aside was eventually just deposited into their savings account and the spending money all came from my wallet.
If only there was a more efficient way to do all the above! The new POSB Smart Buddy programme, coupled with the POSB Smart Buddy smart watch would be the solution.
What is the POSB Smart Buddy programme about?
Officially launched in August 2017 in 19 primary schools in Singapore, the POSB Smart Buddy programme uses wearable tech (a watch) to teach students how to save and spend wisely by helping them track their savings and spending habits digitally.
The watch helps children take an early step towards digital payments and also monitors their activity levels. Parents can in turn remotely pre-set their child’s daily allowance, send them emergency money, and monitor their kids’ spending, savings, eating habits and activity levels – all with an accompanying app.
The programme further creates a digital payments ecosystem within the school where the school’s canteens and bookstores are set up with digital payment terminals. Students can simply tap and pay with their POSB Smart Buddy watches. Kiosks are also set up on school grounds, allowing students to scan their watches so they can instantly check on their remaining allowance for the day. The POSB Smart Buddy programme is fully subsidised by POSB.
Review of the POSB Smart Buddy programme after I tried it with my daughters
First of all, note that the POSB smart watch is not available to just anyone. Only students from primary schools in Singapore that are onboarded into the POSB Smart Buddy programme get to receive the watch (free!).
If you like your child’s school to be onboarded, you can visit the official POSB Smart Buddy website to find out how to contact his or her school to get it implemented.
Together with several other parent bloggers, I was invited by the POSB folks to learn more about the POSB Smart Buddy programme and to try out the smart watch. I gladly accepted the invitation, excited to learn how I can better impart financial literacy to my daughters.
After the brief session with the POSB team to learn more about the feature of the watch and the accompanying app, I was very excited to try it out with my girls.
We did an unboxing video live on Facebook the next day and they were rather excited find out what was inside the packages:
Little sister Zara was really happy to see the watch and was quick to figure out how the different parts work. Ayra was a little disappointed that the watch comes only in one colour. She wasn’t as enthusiastic as her little sister after she saw the watch. LOL!
When I told them they could use the watch to pay for things at the bookshop, it piqued their interest again. As such, I let them wear the watch out on a Sunday and they started pushing the buttons. After 101 questions, they figured out what the footprint icon and the number next to it represented. They learned to read the time and discovered their names on the screen too. Things got really fun when they started competing to get the higher number of steps recorded on their respective watches.
After playing around with the watches for a few weeks, we concluded that the POSB Smart Buddy watch is really more than just a wearable payment device. There are quite a lot of other features! What I like most among the many functions is the ability to control and track my girls’ spending with the app. I can go on and on about how this works and why I love it, but that would require another 3-4 pages of experience sharing!
Here’s a quick start guide video from POSB if you’re keen to find out how it works.
POSB Smart Buddy Watch – Step-by-Step Guide 01:19
You can also read the testimonials shared by other parent bloggers who attended the same session as I did:
In short, I’m really excited about the possibilities of this programme and really hope to see it improve and enhanced over the years. Ayra is going to P1 next year, and I hope her school will implement the programme so that we can make full use of the watch we received. For now, we will enjoy the functions of these watches over weekends and hope I can get my girls to learn a thing or two about financial management.
It’s a baby step towards our Smart Nation! When will the day come (to Singapore) when I can just leave home with my mobile phone and leave my wallet and cards at home?