Money Can’t Buy Your Kid Happiness – Or Can It?
We’ve all heard the old adage “money can’t buy you happiness”, and it’s a romantic ideal that warms the heart. All we need is love, right? Not quite — the majority of primary school-aged children surveyed in a recent study^ disagree.
Children may be young and innocent, but they also tend to tell it like it is. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of their books and face facts. In today’s world, it’s tough to ensure your kids are truly happy if your wallet is under great financial strain.
What Makes Kids Happy?
Yes, a stable home helmed by loving parents is the cornerstone of a happy family. Children who are part of a strong family unit are more likely to grow up better adjusted than those experiencing instability at home. Naturally, children whose parents are openly affectionate to them and to each other, and spend plenty of quality time with them, are generally happier than those who feel neglected.
But is that enough? As it turns out, children view positive family relationships as only the second-most important thing that contributes to their overall happiness. So what gives them the most joy? 80% of children rank spending time on their hobbies and passions as tops, while 74% say special treats like vacations and staycations, and receiving cool gifts, come in third. Bonding through social activities such as birthday parties count highly too.
It’s a universal truth: parents work hard for the sake of their children. We do our best to earn a good living so that our children can live in a nice home and have nice things. We (try to) make sure they eat a balanced diet and get sufficient sleep and exercise, so they can stay healthy. We place great emphasis on quality education and all manner of enrichment classes to secure their future success. And we dedicate every spare minute we have towards family bonding time.
It doesn’t end there. Once we have fulfilled the basic needs and achieved a certain level of financial security, we continue to build on that so that we can offer our kids extra indulgences that earn us the titles of the “Greatest Mum” or “Greatest Dad”. The latest video games, the ‘coolest’ school bags, family trips to exotic locales and exciting theme parks from Universal Studios Singapore to Disney World in Florida. Often times, we make personal sacrifices so that our kids can enjoy the rewards.
Parents, your efforts do pay off. When the children were asked how important they thought money was, in terms of letting them do the things that make them happy, 76% of them agreed money is important.
What Makes Parents Happy?
Once you become a parent, ensuring your offspring grows up happy becomes your biggest priority in life. Yes, ensuring they are well-fed and well-educated is important, but parents today are placing an increased focus on happiness too. Our study revealed that 85% of parents agree that their child’s happiness is integral to their own happiness. In other words, happy kids make happy parents!
Unsurprisingly, when asked if money and financial security is important to their child’s current and future happiness, 82% of parents concur. In today’s world, just giving your kids lots of attention isn’t enough. Parents also desire to give their kids what truly makes them happy, which according to the kids, are activities that usually involve spending money.
So what is that money spent on? Well, the bulk of it goes towards giving children the opportunity to gain new experiences. These range from taking them to restaurants, play spaces, and of course, cities and countries that they’ve never visited before. In fact, family holidays and travel rank among the top three most commonly cited expenses parents incur in pursuit of happiness for their kids.
In particular, the majority of parents with primary school kids also reward their kids from time to time with gifts, or give them money to purchase what they like. The benefits are two-fold — kids are incentivised to behave well or study hard, and parents find joy in seeing their kids happily receive their rewards too!
Perhaps what’s truly eye-opening is that the average parent spends an average of $10,300 per year on non-essential things to up their children’s happiness quotient. When you compare this to the $5,000-plus that goes towards education, including tuition and enrichment classes, on average every year, that’s pretty significant. About $4,000 on average is spent on family vacations alone.
But What If…?
Life is fragile and unpredictable. Imagine if you contracted a critical illness or suffered a total permanent disability. You may not be able to continue working, and yet huge medical bills are stacking up. If this were to happen to you, would the financial pressures you face put your child’s happiness in jeopardy?
As we’ve already determined, it’s not enough to ensure your child’s survival and well-being; being able to maintain the lifestyle they’re used to and the potential for their future happiness is crucial too. Parents know this. In fact, their top concerns are not being able to spend quality time with their children and being faced with financial instability. They fear not having the ability to let their children enjoy and pursue the things that give them fulfilment.
80% of parents believe that being struck with a critical illness will affect their financial ability to provide what contributes to their child’s happiness.
It’s natural: life’s little luxuries would be first to be sacrificed if you had financial constraints. If faced with a critical illness or permanent disability, 70% of parents say they would have no choice but to give up family vacations and allowances for treats, gifts and experiences — all of which are among the top five things kids say make them happy.
The truly worrying statistic, however, is that only 27% of parents surveyed are confident that they are financially prepared for the unexpected. Should anything untoward happen to them, they would not need to reduce spending on their kids at all.
If you can’t say the same, build yourself a financial safety net by purchasing a suitable life insurance plan. Should you meet with an unfortunate life event, the payout will allow you to continue providing your children with the treats and experiences that make them happy. It will also let you focus on treatment and recovery without added stress about finances. Happy parents make for happy children too!
Protect Your Kids’ Happiness For Life
About 7 out of 10 parents choose to buy life insurance not for their own sake — their kids are the true motivation. They recognise that their children’s happiness could be inextricably linked to the financial security it offers. Now they can rest assured that they would be able to maintain their children’s standard of living no matter what happens.
Yes, kids are generally resilient and if they had to face unexpected disruptions to their life and lifestyles, they would likely learn to adapt and make do. But why put their happiness at risk? By being financially prepared, it relieves stress on yourself and contributes to a peaceful and more conducive recovery. More importantly, it allows you to continue spending precious time with your loved ones during this recovery period, and provides you with a way to reduce the impact on your kids. Even in the unfortunate eventuality that they were to lose a parent, your child will still be provided for.
Now that you know what gives your child happiness, it’s your job to do what it takes to secure it. Learn how you can get a back-up plan that’s tailored to your needs.
^The research, commissioned by NTUC Income and conducted by Nielsen was completed amongst 611 parents and 217 children in September 2020.