Still Taking Money From Your Folks?

74 percent of parents are still supporting their kids – but are we actually sabotaging them... and also ourselves?

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74 percent of parents are still supporting their kids – but are we actually sabotaging them... and also ourselves?

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Being able to Grab everywhere is nice, as is sipping on Starbucks coffee every morning. But are you funding these everyday luxuries on your own, or is this lifestyle only possible because of mummy and daddy?

If it’s the latter, you’re not alone. According to a 2017 survey by, 74 percent of parents continue to help their adult children cover their expenses. And most of the time, it seems like they’re happy to. So what’s the problem? We got Elsa Lim, a financial coach who runs personal finance consulting business Money Fit Coach, to tell us more.

It’s self-sabotage

As it turns out, taking money from your parents even if you’re fully capable of supporting yourself can hinder your personal development. “When you keep depending on your parents’ handouts, you impede your growth and maturity as a successful individual,” says Elsa.

Which makes sense, right? After all, why learn how to budget, save and live according to your means – basic skills every adult should have – when there’s no reason to?

Being financially dependent on them may also make you less ambitious. “Adults who behave like children [are more likely to] have difficulty holding down jobs and forming healthy relationships,” she says.

For example, because you’re so used to being catered to, you may not know how to deal when things don’t go your way (which happens a lot in the “real world”) and may be at a loss as to how to fend for yourself because you’ve never been in a position where you needed to.

The financial strain

It’s also important that you spare a thought for your parents, especially when they’ve sacrificed so much to raise you. According to a 2016 TODAY article, it costs a whopping $360,000 on average to bring up just one child for 20 years in Singapore.

“By the time you’re an adult, your parents are likely to be living off their retirement savings or on a much smaller income,” says Elsa. “Given their advanced age, their health will probably be deteriorating, and they may need to spend more money on healthcare.”

Even if your parents are financially secure, she warns against accepting money from your parents on a regular basis if you want them to be truly proud of you. “Money has a lot of emotional meaning for most people. Although your parents may give you money, they may experience the heartache, disappointment and shame that comes from supporting an adult child who won’t take care of herself,” adds Elsa.

Your parents may never say “no” to you, but that doesn’t mean they approve of your dependence on them – particularly when you seem unable to take care of yourself. 

Going solo

So at what point should you stop treating your parents like an ATM? Elsa thinks that as long as you’re working and getting a regular paycheck, it’s a good idea to stop taking money from your parents.

“Earning your own money marks your entry into adulthood. You’ve become a responsible person who can make your own decisions, and making this distinction is a rite of passage in life,” she says.

She adds that while it’s OK to depend on your folks if, say, you’re having trouble landing a job, it’s a completely different thing if you don’t want to work because you simply hate the idea of it. And if that’s the case, she recommends discussing these issues with a therapist.

“Generally, a person who doesn’t see the need for financial independence is unaware of personal boundaries. This may be due to their emotional issues or may be something they picked up from their parents,” notes Chen Xiao Ming, Director of Relationship Matters.

Weaning off your parents’ money may be terrifying, but the whole point of adulting is to be self-sufficient, right? As well as enabling you to make your own financial choices, your financial independence is sure to bring you and your parents a healthy sense of pride. And this is one thing money can’t buy. 

“Earning your own money marks your entry into adulthood.”

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5 Tips for Financial Independence

From financial coach Elsa Lim

1 Figure out your purpose

Unless you know what it is, you’ll be living on autopilot and may have trouble living a meaningful life.

2 Save, save, save

Open an automated savings or investment account and aim to save 20 percent of your monthly income. With time and compounding returns, you will accumulate a nice nest egg which you can then diversify into other investments.

3 Don’t buy stuff, buy experiences

Instead of getting more stuff, spend your money on meaningful experiences that will give you wonderful memories that last a lifetime.

4 Enforce a spending limit

Set a spending limit for your credit card and always pay off your balance for the month.

5 Educate yourself

Read up on personal financial planning and investments so you can start building your own financial portfolio to become financially independent. There are numerous free resources on the Internet, as well as inexpensive courses by SIAS (Securities Investment Association of Singapore) and Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX).

Images Text Adora Wong.