Riddle me this: What sets apart a happy family from an unhappy family?
My answer to this have always hit close to this: Having mutual understanding and being constructive
No family do not have their own issues and it is up to the family members to confront some hard issues and seek to understand why each of us think and do things the way we do it, and seek to move forward positively.
How true is this?
This is where a new Channel News Asia Reality Series comes in.
Titled The Family Affair, this is a weekly show on Monday 8 PM on Channel News Asia, which profiles 4 middle income family from Korea, Singapore, India and China.
I felt it is relate-able to Singaporeans since we are made up of a vast middle income population.
If I were to list one main theme, it is this: It is tough to talk about money at home.
Here you can watch the first episode:
Out of the 4 families, 3 of them have main issues to do with money in the family.
The Pushy Money Minded Hubby
The China couple have a nice problem. The husband is a stay at home man who quit his job for a year while the wife has a travel agency and brings home US$4500/mth.
They lived in Beijing, where the housing prices have appreciate tremendously. The husband would like to move to a bigger house but it seems the wife and daughter seems happy where it is. The husband looks the sort like us, savvy with money and monitors the stock market. The family went for a home viewing and are getting folks to look at their own home.
If things work out, they could move to a bigger place and he wants to get it done.
But it seems, he is making all the decisions alone without consulting the wife, or thinking the wife gets what he wants. And the wife is always surprised by a sudden need to process large amount of very critical money decision at a very short time.
The Father with a Spendthrift Family
The Korean family has a very countryside home on the outside but looks well furnish on the inside. Dad is an insurance agent, but he was working in sales. He couldn’t take the stress so he took on this job with a 50% pay cut earning US$2000.
His elder son is unemployed at 23 years old, the younger son, who works part time in construction, is 20 years old and studying in university. The wife stays at home.
Throughout the first episode, they show how the sole bread winner got his blood pressure up when he gets frustrated with his son spendthrift ways and his wife secretly spending US$1000 on an exercise machine and a massage machine.
It is damn interesting looking at the wife reaction when questioned about the purchase by the hubby and how she compares to her sister, who could afford these because she married a more well off man.
They took a loan to purchase this home, now with a stinking maintenance issue that needs US$3000 to fixed.
And he tells the producer: The family didn’t know the extend of their debt. Its US$72,000.
The Struggling Singapore Family
This may be the one most are interested in since it hits closest to home.
The husband and wife are in their 30s, and they have 2 children. Recently they added a third one.
They have the typical problems of a middle income Singapore family.
No numbers given, but the husband takes care of the family expenses, while the wife’s income goes to paying the helper and private childcare, which eats up the majority of their pay.
The husband, who is a manager at a semi conductor firm, has a different dream, which is to open and run a barista cafe.
He took a loan to open one, with the intention to “start small” and then open a few more.
Month after month, there were no customers. And the debt is piling up without the cash flow.
And it seems, the husband is not telling the wife. There were secret spending.
The wife is finding out in alternate ways.
This looks to be shaping up to a series that many young couples can learn something from.
It may look like future issues they will be facing.
I tend to think most won’t watch, because they think this will not happen to them. or that this is so close to their reality that they can’t face up to it.
I saw a whole lot of what the Beijing House Husband in my character, and watching this makes me intrigue about his growth or his degeneration.
It is also a reflection of the flaws I should sought actively to eliminate.
I hope you enjoy watching and my question to you is: Do you think these family money concerns and issues are common amongst your peers?