the financial burden on the sandwiched generation
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Millennials Are Singapore’s New Sandwiched Generation: The Financial Burden

Inspired by a financial question asked on our Personal Finance Community, we decided to revisit the topic of Singapore’s sandwiched generation, and how millennials have quickly entered this phase.

This was the worry, and a very real one for those in their twenties today:

sandwiched generation problems

What Is “The Sandwich Generation”

For those who haven’t heard about this, the term “sandwiched generation’’ is widely used and generally understood to be the group of people who are caregivers for both their children and parents at the same time.

A couple of years back, this term was commonly used to describe married couples from the generation X (Born in the 1960s to 1980s) who fit in this criteria. For Millennials (Born in the 1980s to 1990s) like myself, this referred to our parents who had to take care of their parents – Baby Boomers who mostly had the mentality of being cared for by their children in old age, and their children – us millennials and the strawberry generation, who need the attention and care of our parents.

Millennials Becoming Parents: The Problem

Today, Millennials have grown into starting their own families, which similarly transits them into the sandwich phase where what happened to their parents will more or less happen to them too.

Here are some of the money problems they will face:

 ProblemCosts Involved
Problem 1BTO Housing Loan, Renovation4 Room: $400,000
Downpayment: 10%
Problem 2WeddingApproximately $39,500
Problem 3Monetary allowance for parentsApproximately $1000/ month
Problem 4Household and personal expenditure Approximately $500/ month
Problem 5Cost of giving birth to a childApproximately $14,425

These 5 points seem like matter-of-fact problems, but if you look at them individually they add up to huge monthly contributions, starting from the day of marriage to having a child. This push and pull of duty and compromise take a heavy toll on the sandwiched couple, but here are some ways they can be relieved.

Existing Support For The Sandwiched Generation

MediShield Life has extended basic coverage to every Singaporean including coverage for pre-existing health conditions. It brings relief to the sandwiched or middle-income group that experiences twice the financial burden. The subsidy is a basic health plan for public hospitals up to B2 ward/service. Premiums are also fully covered for those born in 1934 and earlier, reducing the financial burden on children.

The Pioneer Generation package has also helped to ease the burden of medical expenses incurred by the elderly. There is an additional 50% off subsidised services and medication at polyclinics and Specialist Outpatient Clinics on top of $1,200 in cash for elderly with moderate to severe functional disabilities.

The CPF silver support scheme also helps families by giving out quarterly cash supplements to the bottom 20% of Singaporeans aged 65 and above. CPF Housing grants of up to $80,000 on top of subsidised purchase prices for BTO Flats also help reduce the financial burden on couples.

Read Further: HDB vs Bank Loan

For couples with further difficulties, the recent implementation, CareShield Life, also sees an increase in payouts for the disabled starting from $600/month in 2020 for a lifetime.

4 Pieces Of Advice

Here’s an apt quote from one of our community members, Roy, “During our parent’s generation, we are their retirement planning. In our generation, we are our parent’s retirement planning and our kids piggy bank.”

With that piece of truth, here’s advice that our new millennial-sandwiched generation could use:

1. Plan, Budget and Compromise

You know what they say: Fail to plan and plan to fail. Marriage is arguably the most important thing you can ever plan for.

First, be honest with each other. Understanding is the basis of a relationship and everything that you share in the future. Plan together so the both of you will be vested in a shared success. Talk about your future together and set common values you will both work towards.

Secondly, lay out all the things you two have to pay for down on an excel sheet or in a document where the both of you can sort out the costs and your individual contributions. Set aside money to be saved for future use.

Thirdly, create a joint account if you haven’t. Accounts such as the CIMB Fastsaver, BOC and UOB one Account have a tiered base interest system such that young married couples can consider pooling their money together to hit a higher interest rate.

Here’s some advice from the community that we found useful:

Clarence: “Talk about the future with her and see if she gets excited about the future you’re painting. Then slowly lead to the $ u need to get there and let her make her own conclusions whether the current lifestyle is sustainable or not.”

Michelle: “You can also choose to increase your incomes by changing jobs or find additional part-time work. You both must also agree not to spend unnecessarily for the time being until things get more comfortable.”

Cathie: “At the meantime, build a relationship with your future in-laws so that you may catch a glimpse of why your girlfriend “invests” so much in her family. You will be surprised that her parents are reasonable people who would always have their children’s happiness at heart. That is the heartbeat of all “normal parents”, isn’t it?”

Read More: Budgeting As A Couple

 

2. Get A Smaller Flat

HDB

In terms of renovation costs or overall costs, getting a BTO is more financially-friendly than a resale flat. However, if times are hard, living with your parents first before you save up enough for your own home may be the wiser choice to make. 

It is good to know that there are available housing grants for first-time applicants. The grant amount goes up to $40,000, depending on your household income. Grants are available for those with a monthly household income of $1,500 to $8,500. If you are eligible, download the relevant AHG application form or AHG/ SHG application form and submit it during your flat booking appointment.

Here’s some advice from the community that we found useful:

Siew Fen: “Apply BTO can use CPF. Get a smaller flat that CPF can cover the down payment. I recall u can opt to pay only 5% at booking.”

Vincent: “Calculate the amount of CPF OA both of you will have at the point of BTO application and your monthly contribution to determine budget so that you do not need to top up cash.”

Dolce: “Get BTO 2-Room in non-mature estate.”

Ronald: “Even with your combined 3.8k nett income, you will qualify for HLE with HDB. Just don’t buy a too expensive house like 5rm or resale. You will be able to manage with BTO and after the mop maybe sell it for a nice profit, then go for another round, or upgrade of income is better.”

Read More: Mortgage Guide, Getting Your First Property In Singapore

 

3. Spend Less On The Wedding

Holding a wedding costs about $39,500 on average, after the red packet contribution. Transport, photography, bridal packages and miscellaneous expenditure can add up to a lot of money. Save on parts you think you can cut out if your budget is tight. For example, hire a less popular wedding photographer, hold your wedding at a restaurant instead of a hotel ballroom or simply cut down on the number of people you want to invite.

Here’s some advice from the community that we found useful:

Ronald: “Won’t over-commit to the wedding. It’s just a one-day event. Marriage is for life so better be prudent, but splurge like a badass rich mogul on your silver anniversary.”

Read More: How Much You Can Save By Holding Your Wedding At A Coffee Shop

 

4. Teach Your Children Financial Independence

Encourage your children to save regularly. These values can form the basis of their long-term, future financial planning. To lighten the financial load on future “sandwiched generations” this is the first step.

Teach them how to live within your family’s humble means, and don’t form the habit of going to expensive restaurants for family dinners often. Our lifestyle choices form the basis of their habits.

When they grow older, teaching them the basics of investing or simply putting money in a savings account can also be a wise thing to do. After all, they don’t teach these things in school.

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