Four siblings came together to discuss how their mother’s hospitalisation bill should be split amongst themselves. The eldest sibling exclaimed, “I’m just an irregular night shift security guard! How can I possibly afford to contribute to mother’s hospitalisation bills with my measly wage?!” The youngest then voiced his opinion in a slightly louder tone, “I’ve been looking after mother ever since, it’s about time you older siblings take up some responsibility and contribute more for her bills!” All this while, the other two siblings chose to remain silent.
While this story may seem like a typical Taiwanese drama, it is an actual account shared by a friend of DollarsAndSense who spoke of his grandmother who was unwell. In a country like Singapore where people generally choose to take care of their parents even when they are old and ill, personal finance concerns not just oneself, but also a family as a whole.
Common pitfalls in family finance management
- Believing that your parents are well protected as they claimed to have purchased insurance
- Not setting aside liquidity for extraordinary expenditure
- Not protecting yourself sufficiently
1) Believing that your parents are well protected as they claimed to have purchased insurance
One of our DollarsAndSense member decided to ask his parents about their insurance coverage status. While they were proud to claim that they were sufficiently covered, he later realised that they have only obtained death coverage – with nothing to provision for hospitalisation, medication and other miscellaneous expenditures.
The “baby boom” and “X” generation folks are generally less sophisticated when it comes to personal finance, and often tend to be insufficiently covered. Furthermore, insurance plans in the past were not as robust as those available today.
2) Not setting aside liquidity for extraordinary expenditure
In reference to our story at the start of this article, our friend said that his grandmother suffers from multiple illnesses as well as mild dementia. There are now two options for her children to decide on, (1) send her to a nursing home or (2) hire a professional nurse. Both options come with hefty price tags that will require the family to tug on their personal finances to fork out the additional cash required to pay for the services.
There are also additional extraordinary cost that do not fall under the insurance coverage. For example, purchasing a wheelchair, periodic medication and special diets.
3) Not protecting yourself sufficiently
By not protecting yourself sufficiently, you stand a higher chance of increasing the burden on your family members as they would have to shoulder any hospitalisation or medical bills that are incurred should anything happen to you.
Simple solutions to better manage your family’s finances
- Review your parents’ insurance portfolio as soon as possible
- Set aside a portion of your wage for insurance and other extraordinary expenditure
- Get yourself thoroughly covered
1. Review your parents’ insurance portfolio as soon as possible
By reviewing your parents’ insurance portfolio with a trusted consultant as soon as possible, you will know what is lacking and get them protected before it is too late. Adding on, the premiums paid will also be significantly lesser the earlier and younger your parents get insured.
2. Set aside a portion of your wage to pay for insurance and other extraordinary expenditure
Come to an agreement with your siblings on a comfortable amount that everyone can commit to contributing. This pooled funds should not be used for any reasons except for the payment of insurances purchased, and any medical/hospitalisation/extraordinary bills incurred by your parents.
3. Get yourself thoroughly insured
Similarly, review your insurance portfolio with a trusted consultant and ensure that you are sufficiently covered. The younger you are, the lesser premiums you are required to pay over the long-run. Hence, do away with procrastination and start getting your family and personal finance settled.
We tend to neglect our family members’ finances, assuming that as long as we are alright, everyone else should be alright. Do not allow the “it’s too late” situation to befall upon you and your family. Start provisioning for the worst case scenario while hoping that you will never ever need to activate the insurance and savings you have prepared.
When siblings come together and agree on a committed amount to contribute, perhaps bimonthly, this little amount accumulated over the years will soon compound to be a significant value in the future. With insurance coverage and sufficient liquidity, siblings will never need to bicker or fight over who is responsible for their parents’ medical bills.
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