What would you want to tell your kids, or your grandkids, about money? What if you could go back in time and give yourself a heads-up?

The latter is a fairly cruel rhetorical question, but it doesn't mean you can't tell your kids about the mistakes you've made. Businesswoman Shan You is the founder of jewellery brand Ochira, and she's written a letter to her daughter, Ashley, about how to navigate tricky financial decisions and build a secure life for herself in the future.

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Dear darling Ashley,

I watch you grow up every day and turn into a beautiful young lady.

You are smart, clever, confident, kind, outgoing, bubbly and sporty. You’re so popular in school. I am so proud of you, yet at the same time, I am also aware that you have been protected by your father and myself all of your life.

You have never had to worry about the money side of things, which may impact your future success. So, this is why I’m writing this letter to you; I would like to share some of my personal experience and advice. Hopefully you’ll take it.

I am from Shanghai, in China. I came from a fiercely intellectual family; my parents are both well-educated scientists and worked as physics professors in leading universities. When I was growing up, China was relatively poor, with limited material wealth, although the country was already showing signs of growth. Sadly, my intellectual parents never taught me anything about finance, how to manage money, or even how to save up my pocket money. I haven’t really been money-savvy for my whole life.

When I was in my late teens, I went to the top business school in France, HEC Paris, and I graduated in 2000. I worked in London and Paris for consultancy firm Accenture in strategy consulting before your father and I launched our own brand. It was a hard and difficult journey, as both of us came from non-relevant industries with no jewellery industry knowledge and contacts. We started from ground zero. We put in hours, weeks and months of hard work and commitment, since you were only a couple of months old. Now it is an established business exporting to all over the world. Our relentless fight to make the business fly worked.

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I want to share a few lessons with you I learned from this experience:

  • First of all, unless you are extremely confident about your creativity and your commitment to hard work and problem solving, I would say that it’s more secure to stay in a good job and work hard to progress.

  • As a young person, it’s very important you develop self-discipline.

  • Don’t spend money on unnecessary things, and save every penny you can.

  • Open a savings account and contribute to it every month.

  • Don’t squander your money on things you know you don’t need.

  • Finally, make sure you do this from an early age - you won’t regret it.

When you saved enough, invest in a property - maybe somewhere where you’d like to live, although I do recommend becoming a landlady, and buying to let. Keep investing in properties if you can. Don’t forget that it’s very important to invest in the right property. For example, a semi-detached houses near a train station could be rented out for more than a property in residential area.

I guess that's it from me for now; I hope you benefit from the advice I’ve told you. Please take it on board if you can.

All my love,


Disclaimer: These are personal views, not the views of The Lifehouse.Co