QUESTION: Hi Sir Randell! I’ve been reading a lot of personal finance articles about millennials. I read one that definitely hit home. It was one about the “sandwich generation” wherein Filipino adults feel sandwiched between their responsibilities to their parents and their responsibilities to their families (or the family they will have in the future). I don’t have any children yet, and I’m still single, but I’m scared and I already feel the pressure being sandwiched. My parents are the best, but unfortunately, not when it comes to money. I already give part of my income to them, and there are times I feel like they see me as their retirement plan. How can I talk to them and express my feelings that we need to do our own parts in setting ourselves up financially on our own? That I cannot fully depend on them and they cannot do the same to me? —Angel via Facebook Messenger
Hi Angel! This is definitely an interesting situation you are in, but a common one nonetheless. Compared to questions on investing and saving, I don’t get this type of question a lot. I’m sure, we see it happening around us always, and the phenomenon tends to be more obvious here in the Philippines where parents have the mind-set their children will take care of them come retirement.
This is a tricky topic to confront your parents with, but here are some steps you can use when the time finally comes that you need to approach them and talk to them:
Let them know their numbers.
If you’re contributing to household expenses, you know how much your parents spend on basic necessities monthly. You may have an idea how much their monthly expenses are.
With this, you can compute your parents’ retirement numbers. This is the amount they need to be able to retire comfortably. Crunching the numbers and showing the amount to your parents will make them realize you won’t be able to handle it on your own, not even when you and your siblings work together, because you have your own futures to prepare for.
It may be that your parents also have no idea of the financial stress you’re going through contributing to their monthly budget, so it pays to be transparent. Let them know you’re having a difficult time covering even your needs.
If they’re aware of how you feel, they may ease the pressure on you and find ways to sustain themselves.
Do the saving for them.
However, if your parents are stubborn, and no amount of talking to them will make them understand, you can instead reduce your contributions and open an investment account for them. This may be especially effective if your parents do not know how to handle money properly.
When they reach retirement, they already have a retirement fund that you started years prior.
Be fully independent.
Last but not least, the only way for your parents to become truly independent from you is if you are not dependent on them. If you still live with them, then it’s just fair that you contribute to their monthly expenses, especially if your parents are still paying for the utilities.
If you don’t want to be treated as a retirement fund in the future, start by becoming fully independent from them. This could mean renting your own place and avoid asking for financial assistance unless it’s an emergency and is absolutely necessary. This way, your parents will understand they cannot depend on you (financially) because you’ve already stopped depending on them.
Money talk is always difficult, especially since this kind of talk is still taboo in Filipino culture. However, if you never initiate this type of conversation, you stand to risk your future.
When it comes to personal finance, it pays to start early. How will you start your own life if you have people who are still fully dependent on you?
By having the talk, you can make each other aware of your plans and align your next steps for the future.
Just a brotherly reminder: When discussing difficult issues with your parents, always do so with utmost love and respect. Remember, we are blessed when we honor our parents.
(Randell Tiongson, RFP is an advocate of Life & Personal Finance. With nearly 30 years of experience in the Financial Service Industry – Banking, Mutual Funds, Insurance and Financial Planning, and Management Consultancy – he has become one of today’s most respected personal finance coaches in the country. Check out his website for more financial advice www.randelltiongson.com)