What it means to take financial responsibility
(and appreciating my parents)
So, after rounds of interviews, I finally clinched my first job! With a monthly pay check comes great responsibility – I am now no longer a liability, but someone who is expected to help out with the family expenses. After all these years of putting me through school, I guess it’s about time I give back. Even if it is a small amount, it goes a long way in making mom and dad feel appreciated. Here’s how I started:
Paying my own bills
Since I haven’t been paying my own phone bills, now is a good time to take over. I got in touch with my telecom provider for a transfer of name to have full ownership of your monthly expenditures. With monthly bills to settle, I also set automatic reminders to avoid late charges and put bills on recurring GIRO payments whenever possible.
Setting aside a fixed monthly allowance
After receiving pocket money for more than a decade, my parents were really appreciative when I started giving them allowance each month to help ease their load. Some traditional Chinese parents like it in the form of red packets or angbaos, but mine were happy with a transfer via iBanking every month. I started with a manageable sum first, but assured them that the amount will only grow over the next few years (along with my career and pay check – hopefully).
Getting them covered
(with basic medical insurance at least)
Actually, this didn’t just apply to my parents, but also myself, as more often than not, getting myself insured means protecting my loved ones from any financial burden should anything unfortunate happen to me. Currently, all Singaporeans are under the CPF MediShield, which covers up to 80% of your Hospitalization & Surgery (H&S) bills at subsidised wards in restructured hospitals. Being a low cost basic medical insurance scheme, there are claimable limits, deductibles (an initial amount to pay before a payout can be given) and co-insurance (percentage of the claimable payout to pay). I upgraded to a private Integrated Shield Plan by paying a small top-up amount, so that I am fully covered for any major/catastrophic events. In fact, the government has recently announced its plans for an enhanced MediShield Life, which will be implemented in 2015.
After getting the basic upgrade for myself (and a better understanding of how insurance works), I am going to arrange a session with my parents to make sure they are sufficiently covered.
Treating them to a meal every now and then
It’s not only about footing the bill for the sumptuous meal they deserve, but also the quality time spent together over dinner. I take this opportunity to update my parents what has been going on with my life – your accomplishments at work, the day’s headlines or interesting happenings of my friends/other half. More importantly, though, I try to listen to what they have to say with all the patience in the world.
Considering getting a flat near your parents
As a young couple looking for my first HDB flat, I plan to live near my parents. They are definitely appreciative of this, as it makes it easier for them to visit us in future, whether for family dinners or even to take care of my kids. At the same time, it makes financial sense to do so. The CPF Housing Grant for Family gives an additional $10,000 subsidy for those who live with or near their parents, and our National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan recently hinted more to be done to help children looking to move into the same estate as their parents.
Bringing them on a vacation
My parents are not getting any younger. If they have an unfulfilled dream vacation which is within my means, why not help fulfil it? For now, I can’t fully sponsor it yet, but helping to chip in or saving towards it can go a long way. It’s a well-deserved break for them after a lifetime of working to bring me up.
March 4, 2015
About Gin Woo
Contributed by Gin Woo, OL (Office Lady) on weekdays, OJ (Outdoor Junkie) on weekends and Public Holidays.