Should working adults give their parents monthly allowances?

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A very sensitive topic, huh?

But one that should be discussed.

After all, the journey into adulthood is not a walk in the park.

As you make your way into the working world and start earning your keep, it makes you wonder if you should provide financially for those who brought you into the world.

In our little red dot, there’s an unspoken expectation that working adults must provide monthly allowances for their parents.

But really must meh? Is there a right or wrong answer? Let’s see.

Cultural expectations around filial piety

In Singapore, there’s a deep-rooted expectation of filial piety.

It’s almost an incontestable social value here—especially in the older generations where they think their children must provide for them.

However, we’re now seeing new expectations among younger generations when it comes to filial piety. And IMO, there’s really nothing wrong with it.

At the end of the day, whether you prefer buying gifts, taking your parents out for weekly meals, or giving them monthly allowances, you do what’s best for you.

The financial realities of many young working adults today

Do you know that a study done by the Citi Foundation-SMU Financial Literacy Programme for Young Adults 2 years ago has shown that 1 in 3 young adults in Singapore are not confident in managing debt?

Many people in their 20s don’t think about budgeting and managing their finances, let alone helping out their parents with an allowance.

This lack of financial understanding can be attributed to a few factors.

For one, education hasn’t provided sufficient preparation for handling money.

Another is that these young adults have not taken the time to research and understand the complexities of budgeting and money management when heading out into the workforce.

It’s easy to assume that if you’ve got your first full-time job, you should be able to start helping out your parents immediately.

But it’s important to remember just how difficult that can be if you don’t know a thing about money management.

Have an open conversation about expectations

That said, knowing what your parents expect from you and understanding what you can afford are important aspects to consider. It’s difficult, no doubt, but it’s essential to reach a compromise.

If your parents’ expectations are out of line with what you can afford, there are options for bridging their expectations and the reality of your financial situation.

For instance, maybe you could suggest splitting costs like utility bills and groceries?

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Or you could explore other solutions, like sending money once every 2 months or providing help in other ways such as running errands or helping with chores around the house.

The idea is to meet halfway, somewhere.

Set a budget you can afford for monthly allowances

If you can afford a monthly allowance for your parents, good.

But first things first, allocate budget percentages based on your expenses, savings, and debt (I hope it’s just a student’s debt ya).

This will help you determine the limit of how much you can spend each month by calculating your “take-home” after CPF deductions.

If your expenses are greater than your income, start by cutting down unnecessary spending or look for ways to make extra money.

You can also let your parents know that you will increase their allowance as your income grows.

Make compromises to find a solution that works for your family

Every family’s budget is different so I can’t tell you what you should or should not do.

And while you may feel obligated to give your parents a monthly allowance, sometimes it’s just not practical based on your current financial status.

But don’t worry—you can still come to an agreement that satisfies both sides.

Here are some tips:

  • If you have siblings, discuss among yourselves to share the responsibility of monthly allowances for your parents.
  • If you’re all working adults, talk about how much each one of you can contribute towards the financial welfare of the family.
  • For only-child cases, see if there are any items or bills that you can chip in and take away from the burden of your parents first.
Alternative ways to show gratitude to your parents

It doesn’t always have to be about money.

More so if your parents are still in the workforce, have a hand in investing, and earning more than you do.

There are other ways to show them you’re thankful to them for bringing you up. For instance, spending time together.

Make time to chat with them regularly or visit them in person if you’ve already moved out.

Taking the initiative to remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries can be a way to express your love too.

Or you can organize bi-weekly dine-out dates with the old folks. Zi-char style; anything goes!

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The decision to give a monthly allowance to your parents is a personal one. No “outsider” has the right to tell you what’s “right or “wrong”. So take time to decide if you can afford to give your parents a monthly allowance, and if it’s something you feel comfortable doing in the long run. If you can, it’s worth considering, but if you can’t, speak to your parents about it and find alternative ways to “make up” for it.

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