In this feature interview, Michelle Ang speaks to three fathers who run their own businesses. They share their struggles and how they find time for family in the midst of their hectic schedules.

Ernest Tan, 55, Certified Money Coach, Author of ‘Raising Financially Savvy Kids’

Ernest Tan and his family

In 1996 at age 36, Ernest Tan had hardly any savings and was struggling to provide for his family. Despite many of his early life setbacks, with grit and determination, he was able to buy a landed property home three years later and became a millionaire in 2010 at the age of 50.

Married to Jenny Au, an accounts executive, they both have three children who are in their twenties. He now divides his time promoting his book ‘Raising Financially Savvy Kids’, conducting financial literacy workshops for adults and children, and spending time with his family and his newborn grandson.

A typical work day for me is…

I start work around 7.30am (if my grandson is still asleep) from Mondays to Fridays. I work from home most of time unless I have to go out for appointments.

I normally spend time with my grandchild…

When he calls for it! Working from home allows me to take frequent short breaks to play or to attend to him at flexible timing. In the evening, I will bring him to the playground and wait for my wife to return from work. I savour every moment spent with him – his babblings, cries, laughter and funny antics.

My greatest struggle when I first became a dad

28 years ago when I first became a father, finance was tight. I had to do shift work, which made it difficult to spend time with my daughters. Eventually, I changed jobs to have better pay and a working environment.

My happiest moment as a dad

I enjoyed every day watching my three children growing up. Going through childhood photos of my kids, I can’t believe how I managed to bring them up. The happiest moment in my life was walking my daughter down the aisle two years ago.

My current challenge

My current concern is to see the rest of my two children find their life purpose and to settle down in the near future with a secure and fulfilling career.

The biggest challenge I feel Singaporean fathers face today in bringing up a child

Finding enough time to balance fatherhood and career. I lost an average of 8 years when my kids were growing up as I was too busy working. Only when I became an insurance agent was I able to spend more time with them. By then, my youngest child was already 5 years old.

If I could share one piece of advice to parents out there, it would be…

Have more conversations and be more proactive with your kids. Instill them with upright values, moral, ethics and attitudes and empower your kids with positive money habitudes. You can start when they are as young as three years old. There is help readily available for shaping our children in many areas but I find there is a lack of resources in helping parents teach their kids about money habitudes. Most parents are not trained or even good at money management themselves.

Receive a complimentary set of money jars here.


This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.

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