How 3 Industrial Revolutions Changed Financial Literacy

How 3 Industrial Revolutions Changed Financial Literacy

Times have changed and what our grandparents and parents advised us on our personal finance doesn’t seem applicable in our current time. And when we look into it, the 3 different industrial revolutions our grandparents, parents, and what we are taught are completely different lessons.

Or that’s what I thought until I truly understood

I remember being told at an early age to save however we can and spend it on things we want in the future.

Back then, all I needed was $1 to buy lunch during recess.

Now as a working adult, it is crazy to see how some meals we eat can cost $10 or more.

Current Financial Concerns in Singapore

When we compare wage growth to the rising cost of living, it seems like our wages are not keeping up. MOM reported that nominal wages rose by 6.5% in 2022, compared to 3.9% in 2021. However, due to higher inflation, real total wages only grew by 0.4%, the lowest since 2012. Headline inflation in 2022 reached 6.1%, significantly higher than the 2.3% of 2021.

rising private home prices, is climbing the property ladder harder?
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This has led to a rising concern about whether property seekers can still find a way to own their first property and whether it is still even affordable. Prices for new BTOs are climbing faster and demand for new flat seem to never end.

In the end, it does make people wonder whether the old ways of financial literacy still make sense in today’s high inflationary environment.

A Shift in Financial Literacy

a grandfather holding his granddaughters hand while walking in the garden
Photo by RDNE Stock project on

The idea of financial literacy has changed drastically ever since the COVID-19 lockdown.

We are now left with 2 choices; either to earn more or spend less.

To protect our financial wealth, investing is the only way to beat 5% inflation. And the traditional savers, are being treated like idiots who don’t understand money.

So what has changed?

The answer is — How our perception of “work” has changed over the years.

Lessons of Financial Literacy We Are Taught


The idea of financial literacy change as new revolution came and the ones that are able to keep up with technology are the ones that thrive.

It’s interesting to hear different perspectives and opinion of each generation and how they changed over time.

Grandparent’s Era of Smart Financial Literacy

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Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Financial literacy was taught differently by our grandparents. Back in their era, making money wasn’t easy, and having to work with what they had was everything. That was known as the Second Revolution.

During that era, saving money to open a simple coffee shop meant big business. It’s interesting to hear how my grandparents used to look up to coffee shop owners back then.

The lesson then was to save as much as possible and build your empire from there.

Dad’s Era of Smart Financial Literacy

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Photo by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

My parents were brought up and had a lot to learn during the Industrial Revolution 3.0. Back then, people had a different idea of smart financial choices. They were to invest their money in:

  • New websites
  • Create new technology that fits into the computer-age
  • Real Estate
  • Saving account

We have seen many tech entrepreneurs succeed during this revolution. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were some of the many notable businessmen back then who became famous for their technology. Money was easy to make but it all came crashing down soon after during the 1997 dotcom bubble.

The financial lesson learned then was to trust more towards saving and investing in safer assets such as real estate. Those that thrive in and are doing well are the ones who own real estate.

My Era of Smart Financial Literacy

We are now in the Industrial Revolution 5.0, where Internet business is everything. The idea of making money online is the ideal way people are looking for.


Crypto, penny stocks, and high-growth stocks. Yeah, I bet we are all excited to make money. But do you notice a trend by now?

The ones who are making generational wealth are the ones who are able to swiftly and quietly get things done. That means saving actively and learning to take proper financial risks to grow wealth.

As we all know, many people got burned during the crypto saga and stock market downturn. And the ones who ultimately did well were the ones who took the time to learn and build a business for themselves.

The Financial Lesson Learn Here

Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful

I love this quote by Warren Buffet, it painfully shows how even though more than 50 years have passed. Our financial thinking hasn’t changed much and the ones who are able to make money are people with smart financial knowledge.

What’s the takeaway here?

I guess many youngsters (even me once in a while😅) these days are failing to communicate and learn the pearls of wisdom taught by their elders. Thinking what happened in the past will not make sense in the current times.

That thinking is rubbish!

Making money is a slow growth process, saving should and always must be part of your defense in bad economic times. Take risks that are calculated and invest once you have done enough research.

let have a chat to support your financial future

If you would like help or support in a financial advisor. Be sure to reach out to Benjamin Chong from HSBC Life to learn more about financial literacy.

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