Saturday 13 October 2012


Sure we would like to hear that from our children. But is it wise to depend on our kids to provide for us when we retire?

Many parents invest a lot of money into their children’s education, hoping that the latter will look after them when they retire.

But is this a wise move?

Undeniably, responsible parents have to provide the best education possible – within their means – for their children.

But what about giving them a top class higher education which significantly erodes their own limited retirement fund? Will the degree that their children acquire be an adequate “insurance” for the parents in their twilight years?

After graduating, the children may be able to fend for themselves. But, in most cases, after paying for the home, car and daily necessities, they can barely support their aged parents.

It’s more likely that children today will need financial aid from their parents – whether it is to pay for the deposit towards the purchase of their cars or houses – in view of the escalating cost of living, especially in the urban areas.

What if relationships turn sour? The parents, having spent almost all of their retirement nest egg on educating the kids, will be left high and dry financially. It’s heartbreaking but this has happened before.

I know of an elderly couple who not only financed their son’s tertiary education but transferred the ownership of the family home to their son. After the transaction had been completed, they were chased out from that home. In utter dismay, this couple had to turn to the church for help. In a neighbouring country, laws have been enacted to compel children to perform their filial duties.

Young people now are highly mobile. They hop from one company to another, move to another part of the country or even migrate. The reasons offered include searching for greener pastures or providing a better education for their own kids. In other words, they also have to look after themselves. In their quest for upward mobility, upward nobility is often set aside.

Family therapist Lisa Sum said it was important for society to understand the needs of the youngsters, as times had changed.
“Today's young need to work to make ends meet,” she said. “So, some send their old parents to homes, and their children to nurseries, to cope with the rat race.” (Source: Star 8th October 2102)

With weakening of traditional family structures, rapidly changing demographics and the breaking down of values due to the rat race, it is more likely that ageing parents will have to be responsible for their own financial well-being rather than count on their children.

In view of all these factors, parents will need to reexamine the long-held belief that investment in their children’s education is a safety net for their golden years.


  1. Many children, out of gratitude for their parents supporting them through university, will continue to provide materially for their parents till the latter pass on.
  2. If money is no object and the parent’s retirement nest egg is ample, granting the children the best tertiary education possible will then be most proper thing to do.
  3. There has to be a balance in the allocation for these three different areas as parents plan for their retirement: debt reduction, children’s education and retirement nest egg.

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