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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

Net a match

Posted: 13 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

The Internet has been a playground for lovers across three decades.

NOT everyone remembers the Internet Chat Client, or more popularly known as ICQ. But ICQ will always be special for Andy Mervin George and his wife Melanie Ong.

Way back in 2002, then 21-year-old George was introduced to Ong by a friend via ICQ, the most popular instant messaging application then. "My now wife, Melanie and I began chatting over ICQ after we were introduced by a friend," shares George.

The ice-breaker for them was sharing birthdays that were a fortnight apart.

"We began chatting like old buddies. Before we knew it, we had developed an online relationship and our daily chats brought us closer. We made each other laugh and shared mutual interests.

"I remember looking forward to our chats and it became the highlight of my day, every day.

"And just through the texts Melanie sent, I could tell her character. She used emoticons to express herself and some of them really made me smile," says George.

Andy Mervin George met his wife Melanie Ong over ICQ in 2002.

When they became more comfortable with each other, they exchanged photographs.

"It wasn't the same as meeting face-to-face but it certainly offered some sort of intimacy. Eventually, we exchanged numbers."

Exchanging texts and calling each other were, however, not nearly enough after awhile. They were curious to find out how they'd get along offline.

"And since phone calls were expensive for a student, we decided it was time to meet. The rest, as they say, is history. She was sweet and quiet; I was loud and adventurous," says the cheeky 33-year-old insurance advisor.

George still remembers how nervous he was about offering Ong a ride on his motorbike, and how he decided that she was the one when she didn't mind at all.

"I knew then she was a definite keeper," recounts George.

Still, they could only date on weekends. When they missed each other on weekdays, they chatted online.

George and Ong dated for six years before tying the knot in 2008, and have a daughter now.

Online dating site

Rasyida Samsudin is a workaholic who didn't have much time to meet new friends. Furthermore, she had a policy of not dating colleagues and former coursemates.

When she started working in her early 20s and felt she was ready to start dating, Rasyida decided to give online dating a shot.

"Despite signing myself up, I was still sceptical about finding a perfect match on the Internet," shares the 25-year-old public relations consultant.

However, she was proved wrong three months later, when she came across an interesting profile.

The stars were aligned and the attraction was mutual. But it was 37-year-old Jonathan Paddy's first message to her that sealed the deal.

Jonathan Paddy proposed to Rasyida Samsudin after they met on an online dating site.

"He didn't use cheesy one liners or ask me uncomfortable questions. From his texts, I could tell he wasn't like other guys. And so began our story," says Rasyida. After a few exchanges, Rasyida took their chats off the dating site and to their personal instant messaging accounts. Soon, chatting with each other became a daily routine.

"I would rush home from work knowing that Jonathan was waiting for me. It felt like the virtual version of saying, "Honey, I'm home!" Rasyida laughs. "Talking to Jonathan after a hectic day was a huge stress reliever."

They found it was easier to share their little secrets with each other via text rather than face-to-face. "When we chatted online, I felt comfortable sharing little secrets about myself and he did the same. We found it easier to build trust," she explains.

As their relationship grew stronger online, they decided to see if the spark was also present offline.

"I began to wonder if Jonathan was as charming in real life as he was in his texts."Fortunately for me, Jonathan was one of the many good ones. And I am a lucky girl indeed," she continues.

A few months into their courtship, the couple started talking about their future and marriage.

Paddy is English, and Rasyida was initially worried about their cultural differences. "Even though my family were supportive of our union, they are also traditional and my culture is very important to me," she said.

But Paddy proved to be the perfect gentleman as he approached her family to seek their blessings before proposing marriage to Rasyida in May last year.

And then came Facebook

About three years ago, Darrent Ng, 29, decided to browse through a few Facebook profiles to pass his time.

He sent a "poke", followed by a friend request to Kelly Thean.

"Kelly had a profile picture that simply screamed out to me," says the young IT sales manager, who admits to adding Thean, 29, as a friend out of curiosity.

"To my delight, Kelly accepted my friend request despite not knowing who I was," says Ng.

Thean knew they would click, based on our mutual love for movies and music. They were so enamoured with their chats they'd lose track of time.

"We would stay up till the wee hours of the morning chatting, and it didn't matter if we didn't have enough sleep. We would go to work knowing we shared a special bond.

"He would send me texts in the morning wishing me a good day and that alone was enough to keep me happy," Thean remininces.

Soon the curiosity got the better of them and they wondered how they would get along in person.

"When we first met, I remember how we both took a lot of effort with our apperances. I was terribly nervous. Many things went through my head. What if I laughed too loud or snorted?" Thean says remembering their first encounter.

True enough, it was nerve-wracking for them both.

But they had built a solid foundation for their relationship online.

"I didn't forget Kelly's favourite flowers or colour because they were written in text. If I ever forget these details, I can always go back to our chat history!" Ng says with a chuckle.

Today. after three and a half years of being together, the couple are now joint owners of a condominium.

If it were not for their Facebook encounter, they believe they wouldn't have found each other." I don't believe our paths would have crossed," explains Thean.

"Darrent is from Banting and I live and work not far from Kuala Lumpur. We barely have any friends in common. So, I'm very sure we could not have met offline.

"Facebook has changed both our lives forever," she concludes.

Related stories:

To love again

Going online to meet people offline

CNY angpow money: Save or spend?

Posted: 13 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

Chinese New Year's angpow windfall is also a chance to teach children about money.

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD Marianne Tan wants to spend S$59 (RM155) of her angpow money on a 100ml bottle of One Direction perfume. Her brother, Maximilian, nine, wants to save his angpow takings to buy a laptop in three years' time, so he does not have to borrow money from his mother.

Each of them received about S$800 (RM2,100) in angpow this year.

Their mother, events manager Ann Tay, 39, says she has been saving their angpow bounty in a bank account for each of them since their first Chinese New Year.

"But they can use the money to buy what they want any time during the year, subject to approval. Purchases must make sense," says Tay, citing examples of a One Direction mug and a violin bought previously.

Marianne, a Primary Five pupil, generally agrees with her mother. But she adds: "Parents should give their children a bit of freedom to spend their angpow money. For example, to buy a birthday present for a friend, so we don't need to dip into our savings."

Meanwhile, Tay expects her son to be asking for Pokemon game cards. She is likely to oblige their spending request this year as she noticed more S$10 (RM26) angpow that her children received.

Her observation seems spot-on.

Stay-home mum Julia Chua, 38,  and her security manager husband Teo Kee Kiat, 42, take back all of the $700 that her four-year-old daughter Teo Kaitlyn (right) gets in angpow.

Stay-home mum Julia Chua, 38, and her security manager husband Teo Kee Kiat, 42, take back all of the S$700 (RM1,838) that their four-year-old daughter Teo Kaitlyn gets in angpow.

From an OCBC Bank study of "substantial spikes" in deposits in children's accounts during the month of Chinese New Year over the past five years, and based on "forecasting techniques", the bank estimates that each child may pocket about S$780 (RM2,048) this year on average.

Its head of group customer analytics and decisioning, Donald MacDonald, 41, says the sum is the highest in the past five years.

In fact, takings have been rising, from S$522 (RM1,371) a child in 2010 to S$715 (RM1,878) last year.

But kids who want to splurge using their generous bounty may have little luck.

Ten out of 14 parents interviewed say they squirrel away all of their children's angpow takings, usually for education.

Tok Geok Peng, DBS Bank's senior vice-president of consumer deposits, says: "During the festive season, we open 60% more new kids' accounts than in the other months of the year."

Rimawati Hasjim says her son Reever, now 11, had been taught from young to pass his angpow money to his parents for safekeeping.

The 36-year-old cost controller at Swissotel Merchant Court hotel and her husband, self-employed driver Raymond Kang, 37, then deposit the full amount of about S$800 (RM2,100) each year into their only child's savings account.

"There's no need for him to have the angpow money and he does not need to bargain to keep any part of the amount," says Rimawati.

Reever's wishes for toys – for instance, a Gundam robot – will be met by either parents or grandparents on birthdays or at Christmas, she adds.

Even older children do not necessarily have more say about what to do with their angpow collection.

Polytechnic student Loi Yiting says she does not mind that she receives only "loose change" each year from her angpow collection.

"For example, if I collect S$106 (RM278), I get just the S$6 (RM16) and mum takes the rest for safekeeping," says the 19-year-old, the only child of an accountant mother and senior sales manager father, both in their 40s. She collects about S$400 (RM1,050) each year. "Otherwise, I may spend it on frivolous things such as clothes, ice-skating or movies."

For 20-year-old Ryan Tan, his parents let him keep his stash of about S$200 (RM525) since he was a teenager. The polytechnic student's construction manager father, who is a Singapore permanent resident, has family in Malaysia and his Singaporean mother is a travel agent. They are in their 50s.

His parents let him and his siblings keep the money because they feel their children can handle the money.

"I usually leave all the money hidden in some corner and forget about it until my wallet is empty or if I'm too lazy to withdraw money from the ATM," says Tan, a middle child, with a laugh. "Then I look for it and feel slightly happy to know that I have money after all."

Parents may want to consider giving their children latitude in managing their angpow haul.

Vasu Menon, OCBC Bank's vice-president of wealth management Singapore, says that while the bulk should be kept to fund children's education, parents "should allow their kids to spend some of their money during school holidays as an incentive for agreeing to save most of their angpow for later years".

He adds: "For parents with older children, it may be a good idea to include their children when making decisions about how to use the angpow money and to explain their decisions so as to impart money-management skills from young."

Indeed, housewide Julia Teo lets each of her two older children, Myron, 11, and Raeann, nine, keep S$350 (RM919) this year, which is half of each child's angpow collection.

The children also save part of their daily pocket money – S$1.50 (RM4) for Myron and S$1 (RM2.60) for Raeann – and have about S$50 (RM130) to top up the angpow kitty by year's end.

Teo, 38, says: "So, if they have S$400 (RM1,050) at the end of the year, they get half of that to spend. Whatever is not spent is saved, and we count their angpow afresh each calendar year."

This practice began when they started Primary 1 and may have wanted "things that their friends have", says Teo. "We don't buy them these things because the computer games will distract Myron from his studies and you really need only one Barbie doll," says Teo.

Myron does not insist on bigger payouts from his mum. "Visiting seven homes is not hard work. So, I don't think I should take all the angpow money back."

While he and Raeann keep half of their visitation collections, his four-year-old sister Kaitlyn has to give her angpow takings – about S$700 (RM1,838) this year – to her mum.

Teo, who is married to security manager Teo Kee Kiat, 41, says: "The logic is that my husband and I have to come up with the money to give angpow, so we need to recoup our outlay."

She adds with a laugh that she does not suffer "losses", though, because having three children means more takings.

In Adrena Chai's family, the 43-year-old also lets her children learn to handle their own angpow money as they get older.

While her nine-year-old daughter, Faith, gives her takings to Chai for safekeeping, older daughter Hannah, 12, began keeping her angpow money last year because "she has matured". The amount Hannah received last year was S$100 (RM260). This year, she received S$170 (RM446.50).

Her parents' trust in her has not been misplaced. She has not spent a cent of the S$270 (RM709), which she keeps at home, on frivolous things. The Secondary One student at Methodist Girls' School says: "I like to know the money's there, so I feel rich."

The home-held reserves have come in handy: Hannah used the money to pay for school books and stationery and Chai reimbursed her since those were school necessities.

Chai, a trainer in a retail company, adds: "Sometimes, when I haven't had time to withdraw money and don't have cash on me, I borrow from her to pay the laundry man when he comes around." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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