Personal Finance

How To Use CNY Ang Baos To Teach Kids About Financial Literacy

It’s crucial to equip your children with personal financial knowledge and skills, so they have a financial head start early in their lives. Explore how you can use CNY ang bao to teach your kids about financial literacy this festive season.

Key Highlights

  • Emphasise that money (be it in physical or digital form) is a limited resource
  • Allow your children to spend at least some of the ang bao money they’ve received so they learn invaluable real-life money management skills
  • If your child is older, it may be worthwhile allowing them to invest their ang bao money, so they can learn how to grow their savings

Research consistently shows a Source: NCBI between financial literacy and more financial planning and savings, better investment behaviour, and a better understanding of managing retirement drawdowns. In Singapore, statistics show that there is an increasing tendency in younger Singaporeans to default on their credit card debt – a telling indication of low financial literacy, skills, and discipline. As parents, you hold the power to reverse this trend. Find out how you can begin encoding healthy financial habits in your children with their CNY ang baos (red packets).

Make It Clear That Money Is A Limited Resource

In today’s world where money tends to be invisible (owing to the increasing usage of credit cards, digital wallets, and mobile bank transfers), not seeing actual money exchanged can make it challenging for children to grasp the concept of money. That makes it even more crucial for you to explain money as a limited resource to your child and for them to understand the concept that once money is spent, it's gone forever. CNY ang baos make this lesson easier, since your children have most likely received physical cash.

Come up with a simple exercise, where your child has to pay for something with real money; for instance, buying a snack at the grocery store. Once they have made the purchase, reinforce the idea that they have now spent the money – and they cannot get it back. Then, drive the idea that there is no difference between spending cold hard cash and other ‘invisible’ forms of money.

Give Your Children The Opportunity To Spend Their Money

ToyToys R UsAmazon SingaporePrice Difference
Barbie Estate DreamhouseS$479.99S$580S$100.01
Lego Story of NianS$109.99S$88.88S$21.11
Vtech Disney Frozen 2 Magic Colour ClockS119.99S$119.49S$0.50
Prices obtained from retailers listed above, accurate as of 10 Feb 2021. Subject to changes.

It’s crucial to allow your children to spend their money. Squirrelling all their CNY ang bao money away the moment they've received it takes away from the opportunity to real-life budgeting learn basic financial skills, like budgeting. One way you could go about teaching your children how to manage money is to let them know that you’re giving them S$50 from their CNY ang bao money to spend however they wish. Guide them through the decision process by asking simple questions like:

  • Do you need a new bag?
  • Will you use this notebook?
  • Why is buying a new Lego set important to you?
  • Can you find this stuffed toy cheaper elsewhere? (showing them a table of different prices across retailers can also help drive across this point)

Explain How Interest Can Grow Savings Over Time


Kids' Savings Bank AccountHighest Interest EarnedInitial Deposit & Minimum Balance
POSB's My Account3.8% when converted to a multiplier accountNone
UOB Junior Savers Account0.05%S$500 initial deposit, S$2 fee charged per month if average daily balance falls below S$500
OCBC Mighty Savers Account0.20%None
CIMB Junior Savers Account0.40%S$1,000 initial deposit No fall below fee
Maybank Youngstarz Savings Account0.38%S$10 initial deposit No fall below fee
Standard Chartered e$saver KidsCall to find outNone, but you must deposit S$50 each month by GIRO

Use the remaining CNY ang bao money to teach the importance of delayed gratification (i.e. the importance of savings). Depending on how old your child is, they may find it challenging to grasp the concept of putting their money in a bank to earn interest. You could use a practical exercise to show how interest works. Encourage your child to put S$1 into their piggy bank everyday for a month. For every S$1 they put in, you put in S$0.50. Once the month is over, ask your child how much they expect to be inside the piggy bank. Open the piggy bank and separate what your child has put in and the excess. Explain to them that the extra money is what they could receive if they put their savings in a bank account.

Tip: At the end of this exercise, take your child to the bank and open a bank account to deposit their remaining CNY ang bao money. This gives your child responsibility and ownership of the account, which goes a long way in instilling discipline and creating a savings mentality. Banks that offer kids savings accounts (for those under the age of 16) include DBS, UOB, OCBC, CIMB, Citibank, Maybank, and Standard Chartered.

Teach The Concepts Of Investing

If your child is slightly older, you can provide a more in-depth explanation of stocks and other investments – and how, when done appropriately, can grow their savings much faster compared to interest received from a savings account. Eventually, you may even want to let your child buy their own stocks. Just make sure that they are putting in an amount they're comfortable losing and are not over-leveraging.

Pooja Khandelwal

Pooja is a Content Marketing Lead at ValueChampion Singapore. She is responsible for planning and executing sponsored content projects and building relationships with media partners. In addition, she evaluates financial products for consumers based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. Pooja holds degrees in Economics and Psychology from Rutgers University. Her prior work experience includes founding and leading a content marketing consultancy and working at eCommerce, AI, and B2B SaaS startups in Singapore. Pooja has contributed insights to Tech in Asia, Yahoo!, and many other publications. Connect with her on LinkedIn to collaborate on content.

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