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The Parent Endowment: When your parents ask you for a $300 raise

One of the best endowments that you can purchase is getting a child or children for the matter. This was articulated to me by a financial planner. Perhaps no one actually told him the trials and tribulations of raising children. The crux is that its a 25 year old endowment where you ‘contribute’ monetary wise and emotionally wise and at the end of 25 years, the child will then contribute for the next 30 years of your life. And it is inflation adjusted or the raised terms is determine by you! It is also one where you get rewarded for your effort (well, most of the time) should you raise a wise child.The best part is that the amount does not go down generally. Where can you find such a great product.

The problem that I have come across in recent times is that parents can be rather aggressive in their demands. They inflation adjust the contract terms. In the case of a friend, the sister and brother gives the parents $500 per month, but when it comes to the friend’s turn, the parents cite that ‘times have changed’, and she has to contribute $700per month.

In another case, the parents regularly request to raise the allowance by $100.

Now lets get something out of the way. We are not begrudging this because we are devoid of filial piety. Parents gave up so much of their health, money and energy to make us what we are today, and we should reciprocate that. It is the Chinese culture. Strangely, I don’t see western bloggers talk about contribution to parents often. Maybe my expatriate readers can correct me here.

The entitlement effect

As they deemed that they have given so much to us, they measured their expectations based on how much they have ‘invested’. This creates a pressure on the child to contribute monetary more. In some worse cases its more than money, but the expectations of your career and social standing amongst the community. You realize its not your life anymore and they have a large vested interest in it.

Perhaps even quitting a shit job requires prior approval not just your spouse but them.

A mismatch in money values

Problems can be created when you and your spouse money values differs greatly from your parents. They want a stream of allowance to spend. They are not the best of capital allocators. So because of that, they will always need more and more.

You have probably gotten better education or more expose to the demands of better money management, and would scrutinize where you put your money to better. The problem is that your parents are still stuck to the old ways. It would be great if the old ways are good. It is not. This creates frustration.

Life is getting more expensive

The perception of how much is given to them does not change. People watch out for their own interest first, despite the family connection. Yet the life of a young working adult is rather challenging. The compensation for a graduate may be adequate for various mandatory goals such as proposal ring, wedding photo shoot, wedding dinner, housing down payment, housing renovations, increase in baby expenses.

Family will need to scrutinise how they deploy their limited money. At times, the request for more money shows a lack of understanding of what the children are facing in today’s life.

A common reason here is that, there is no clear communication of how your money is allocated.To them, they label how much money you have by how well you live your life. If you failed to communicate your struggles, they will continue to think there is slack to be rightly channel to them.

The child’s extravagant lifestyle

On the other hand, its difficult to argue with parents when they have given so much to the children and the children showed signs that they are more stingy with their money. Sign’s that you rate having fun more than your appreciation of parents will definitely irk the parents and make them ask for more allowance from you, since, you look to be having a great life. They want to be part of it.

Tell tale sign is that other than subsistence expenses, sound savings or wealth building, the child’s fun expenses are drastically higher than what the child gave to the parents.

In this instance, you create a window for them to shoot down that life is getting more expensive, because in reality, you don’t need so much of those fun. Parents do not understand that fun expenses are partly a maintenance of sanity if the child’s job is very demanding and highly lucrative. It is necessary.

Removing this from the child would potentially causing the allowance to be dropped suddenly when the child have a breakdown and cannot work anymore.

If the child wants to prevent the parent’s from raising this point as a justification that they can afford to give more, they can better moderate this aspect of their lifestyle to balance proportionally to what was contributed (an example is the % fun expensed raise accordingly with the % contributed to parents)

It does also mean that the child needs to take control and perform some sort of effective budgeting.

A Clear Communication Plan

When we are at work, our mentors have taught us how important communication with customers, with our superiors, with our peers are. We come up with many systematic meetings to provide updates, to get concurrence and to bring to light issues. We also have reports for that.

Unfortunately we seldom want to bring work back home. That is understandable. However, best practices at work may be able to adapt on the personal front.

A make shift report such as a budget report is such a document that you can easily provide a clear breakdown of where your money is allocated. It shows the allocation of your values.

An aggregation of a typical monthly allocation shows that life is not as cheap as it seems. It also shows that you are prudently making sound plans.

Parents can refute that these are made up numbers. Remember that this report is suppose to be communication to them. If you want to be lying to your parents then by all means, you can make up the figures.

Just with your boss, they will ask for break down when required, and you need your justification for each item’s allocation. If you come up with a bogus figure, it will be easily be exposed.

What if you have a lot of extravagant spending like holidays, gifts for friends, entertainment meals that is very much higher than your parents’ allowance that you feel your parents are sure to shoot you? This budget is not just a communication to others but also to yourself. You have to ask here, do you really value those stuff more than you value your parents? Answering that question will moderate whether you can contribute more realistically.

If you feel uneasy even looking at this, the deeper problem might be you are the problem as well.

A negotiation that you can push well all the way to your clients, or your boss is when you know you have a good product or a sound plan. So perhaps you need to work on yourself more.

Budget Reports are communication to others when required to explain, to yourself, to your spouse and to your parents.

My situation

Hearing a lot of these accounts make me feel rather blessed to have understanding parents. Perhaps the amount that I provided is adequate enough in the first place.  When I started working, I am paying them back for helping me pay for my university student loan. Once that is done, the amount goes to servicing their existing mortgage. Since they are not working for a long time (our financial situation isn’t the best to say) they must be really glad about it.

I consistently communicate across to them that I am saving well. They have that assurance that I take care of them and continue to do so, and so since I am deploy money well, its a good situation for them. I even got my uncle on my side with him gossiping gospels when I wasn’t around and when old folks gossip (because they have more free time)

I got to a point where I am comfortable with how much I am channelling to my wealth building. so future raises will go to expenses or to them. If you do it voluntarily and telling them, its better them asking you about it.

When you stop raising, they would think you really have some shit going in your life.

I’m also blessed they don’t compare me so much to my brother. I do not know how much my brother is contributing and perhaps that is not important. I am just glad we are sharing the load. When you have a brother with sound money values, it is easy to initiate saving goals for parents or that you do not need to worry about their money problems.


I won’t be pretending to understand all the problems that others are facing because I got a rather good environment. Not many do. Sometimes I start getting wary about dispensing these perspective and solutions when I start thinking what do I know about solving these issues.

I just state how my logical brain will come up with. Works for me. Might not be for you but its good to try your best with it.

Honestly, most bloggers are in good environments and temperaments so they would seldom get these issues. That’s where we have counsellors who are trained to deal with these problems.

Deep problems are not solved just by a ‘report’. That is very naive. But I do know that situations worsens because communication have totally broken down. So make sure you know how important communication are and where your values lie.

That creates a starting point how to solve these issues.

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Sunday 14th of September 2014

It might be a good idea for sibling to pool $$ say $50 monthly and keep in a separate account for parent's emergency spending. While $50 look little, over the year, it is still significant.

Being able to tell parents that there are such fund when they demand for say increment and you really can't afford it, will be able to convince parent that their welfare is considered of and being taken care of.


Sunday 14th of September 2014

Hi PS Tan,

A very good idea. And I felt its a "virtual account" that is necessary and it will eventually be used. I have something like that which I will share in a later blog post. The problem is some parents don't like it because only when needed they will use, and they don't know how much they have.

Best Regards,



Saturday 13th of September 2014

I always portioned 10% of my monthly salary to my retired parents. This is on top of paying for every bills they have to pay. I do not live with them. A good thing is my parents do not ask me to give increments. However I still try to give a bit more during CNY or when I get my bonus..


Sunday 14th of September 2014

Hi Vintire,

Thanks for sharing! I think 2 things here, having a understandable 'contract' helps communication instead of something being argued over. Your proactiveness helped alot. Secondly, for you to be sensible to do that, you have to get that from somewhere. Usually Good parenting brings about good children who in turn reciprocate

My 15 HWW

Saturday 13th of September 2014

Hi Kyith,

Interesting article and really courageous of you to take a stab on this somewhat controversial topic.

I am somewhat an anomaly since I don't really contribute anything to my parents although my wife does contribute a token sum that is tied to a proportion of her salary.

I have seen examples when parents invest everything on their children (i.e. mortgage/sell flat to finance the son's overseas education) and expect little back. On the other extreme, I have friends who give up to 50% of their take-home pay to their parents and they still expect periodic contribution raises from time to time.

I guess the sandwiched generation does have something to gripe about if they have to take care of their parents' retirement, save up for their own's and at the same time bring up more than 2 children.


Sunday 14th of September 2014

Hi 15HWW,

You are privileged due to not needing to contribute. Once you have a lot of expenses, you start thinking how that is possible for a lot of us to even contribute. Having a rich family really helps in life.


Saturday 13th of September 2014

I don't let my parents know my income.


Saturday 13th of September 2014

Hi pf,

Not many do, but is that creating a communication problem for you


Saturday 13th of September 2014

Hi Drizzt,

I also have a brother to share the load. I also don't know how much he is contributing. I think it's better this way too. Because of my variability, I prefer to give my parents a low monthly sum, then give a bonus towards CNY or end of year. This way, I can give more comfortably knowing how much I had earned.

I've heard of horror stories when parents quit their job and retire for life once their child graduates. The poor child will have to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of their parents and their own life. Usually their personal life will be neglected, e.g. no husband/wife, no child. I find it ultra irresponsible of such parents to do so. What do you think?


Saturday 13th of September 2014

Hi LP,

That sounds like me! I think I followed the same way of giving standard and more on birthdays.

The entitlement effect is big but more so that parents can be really bad with money or their money perception .

It is no wonder a lot of those upper crust are set for life because they don't have to give x monthly ! So they can realize their financial independence dreams !

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