OPINION – Parental guidance on the use of the consumption smartcard

By Angela Chong, former high school teacher

With the issue of the second round of the consumption subsidy smartcard, the Macau citizens are ready for another shopping spree. Among them there are school children, some even too young to understand the value of money.

Unlike pocket money or New Year lucky money, the consumption smartcard cannot be cashed out or have the amount saved up in the bank, as it is intended to encourage consumption to help small and medium entrepreneurs overcome their financial problems. How children should spend the money depends very much on parents’ careful guidance. In fact, parents should avail themselves of the opportunity to educate their children on some important values of life.

In the first place, under parental guidance, even a small child can do critical thinking to make purchase decisions. For example, when trying to choose between a book and a box of candies at the same price, he can learn to evaluate which can benefit him more or give him better enjoyment and is thus more worth buying. Such training, if well guided, can empower him to develop good judgment and decision-making skills later in life. 

Besides, it is helpful to guide the child to refrain from buying more than necessary as it can cause wastage. Inspire him with the concept “less is more” so that he can learn to appreciate the joy of owning a simple toy that he takes great delight in instead of spending excessively on many that he may soon cast aside without a backward glance.

In addition, this can be a lesson on a compassionate attitude. Parents can guide their child to buy from humble shops that are struggling for survival because of the decline in their business at this time of economic downturn. He should understand that to spend money only in posh hotels or luxurious restaurants instead is not in line with the government’s intention behind the consumption smartcard.

On the other hand, some parents tend to see the child’s consumption smartcard as their own, thinking that it is reasonable to spend the money on family dinners or household goods as the child belongs to the family himself. This is acceptable if done in a way that allows the child to feel appreciated for his contribution to the family. This can nurture in the child the sentiment of love for the family. He will then learn to spend money with his family in mind instead of always thinking about his own personal needs. 

On top of all, this is the opportunity to teach the child to be grateful. The consumption smartcard is not to be taken for granted. While spending happily on goods, we ought to remember that a city’s relative affluence may be temporary. As Chief Executive HO IAT SENG has once remarked, flowers will not stay fresh forever, meaning that all good things must come to an end. We ought to do our part to contribute to the well- being of society by making good use of the consumption smartcard.

So, let us be happy with the consumption smartcard, bearing in mind the need to make sensible purchases, to avoid wastage and to educate our children to do the same.