When Parents Need Financial Support

When Parents Need Financial Support

A study reveals more than 20% of millennials support their parents financially. Seniors today enjoy a much better quality of life than they did a few decades back. This, understandably, comes on the back of rapidly rising costs of healthcare, housing and food. We have also seen global recessive developments throw financial planning of millions into disarray. As a result, many seniors today find themselves depending on their children financially. This can be even more overwhelming when you yourself are struggling to establish your financial standing. Here are a few things you can keep in mind when parents need financial support.

Air The Linen

Financial needs and patterns of parents and how they can be matched by your available resources is a difficult discussion to have across all cultures. Yet, it is the starting point of a practical solution to this prickly problem. Being able to openly, honestly and realistically discuss the need for assistance is possible only in an atmosphere of acceptance and trust. Sadly, strained finances can make it difficult to create such an atmosphere for this discussion. However, in time, this heart-to-heart will turn out to be the cornerstone to the success of your financial support plan. This is a big and intense step, and can take several sittings with the whole family to make sense of. You could choose to do this over an extended family vacation.

What & How Much

The first step is to understand the situation. Jot down any income or savings (or potential source of income) your parents might be having against expenses. Have any sources of income been neglected or overlooked? Are there expenses that can be met in other ways? Are there assets or resources that can be monetized? You can add your parents as dependents in your health plan. Spare rooms can be rented out; antique equipment is probably worth a fortune, and the trophies and mementoes Dad wants to trash probably have a good amount of precious metals in them. Write it all down in one place so nothing is missed.

“How much” is a question your individual situation will dictate. If you have enough to spare after meeting all your commitments, without depriving your family, you should be doing all you can.

Boundaries and Priorities

Your primary responsibility is towards your immediate family and yourself. Ensure all needs of your immediate family are taken care of before extending financial support to the parents. Your parents are adults and are ultimately responsible for their financial situation. Do not beat yourself over what you cannot do. If your financial support comes with conditions, make it clear. Don’t assume they will perceive what you have only implied. If you are gifting money and do not want it to be spend in certain ways, you can always tell them. Whether they listen to you or not is another matter altogether. Similarly, make it clear to them that while counsel is welcome, they really cannot tell you what to do with your money. If there are reasons why you are unable to help, let them know to whatever extent of disclosure you are comfortable with. Often, in the absence of an explanation, people presume you do not wish to help.

Working together as a family to address the financial needs of the parents can prove to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. As you maintain your priorities and help them live their sunset years to the fullest, you will strengthen relationships, gain insights into self, and enhance your problem-solving abilities. Do share your stories, challenges and solutions to financially supporting the parents in the comments section below.

Subhorup Dasgupta is a Hyderabad-based writer and artist. His writing on frugality and responsible living stresses the need to understand, simplify and organize money as a crucial step towards a happier life.  He blogs at Subho’s Jejune Diet.