Do you give your parents money?
I do. And I’m proud of it. Every month, I transfer a fixed percentage of my salary to my mom. If my salary goes up, that contribution goes up too. Hopefully one day soon, it’ll reach tens of thousands.
If that sounds extreme to you, allow me to explain why.
Here are three personal reasons why I give my parents money.
Because It’s The Asian Thing To Do
When I was growing up, my mom would occasionally mention that working people should give money to their parents.
But my parents have never asked me for money — even after I started working. A total contradiction.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve always given money to them since I started earning — which they graciously accept. But I suspect it’s because my parents are very old-school-gracious Asian — the type who will trade “Pai seh… you didn’t have to…” three times with other old people before accepting any gifts.
If I didn’t give them money, they wouldn’t say anything — or heaven forbid, directly ask me for it.
Even if I went to them and said, “Mom, Dad, I need to buy a new car. I can’t afford to give you anything” — they would say OK.
But I know in their hearts they would be slightly disappointed.
And I know that in my heart I would be very ashamed.
Because It Builds Financial Muscle
But I hear some of you saying already, “It’s fine for you to give, Mr. Stingy, because you’re rich. But we’re not. So don’t judge us.”
I’m not. I’m just sharing my story.
And the story is, while I’m not a millionaire, I’ve come a far way from being a broke guy in debt with no savings.
But even back in those days — when my salary was RM 2,510 ($ 717) — I always gave money to my parents. It was a miserably small amount, but it was consistent.
How did I still give money to my parents, when I didn’t earn much and had no financial discipline?
Simple. I always paid them first.
Those of you who are acquainted with personal finance probably know the saying “Pay yourself first”, which means that you should save and invest portions of your salary before you start spending on other things. I did the same thing — except I gave money to them first. And then I blew everything else I had.
Thankfully, I’m a lot more disciplined with my spending nowadays. But because I learned to give to my parents early — applying that principle to saving and investing was easy. I was already training myself when I started giving.
When you learn to live on 50% of your salary, it protects you — in case you suddenly lose your job, or suddenly hit the lottery. Whatever the situation — less money or more money — you’ll have discipline to handle it well.
And as we know, discipline is a muscle. Every time I work that muscle and give to my parents, I become stronger financially.
Because They Don’t Need It
I’m a very blessed person.
My parents are both highly educated people. They make a good income — but don’t spend very much. Not on themselves anyway.
They don’t need my money.
All the money I’ve given them over the years — I know it’s sitting in a bank somewhere. For a family emergency perhaps. But more likely, Mom (the saver) has already figured how to distribute it back among her kids when she leaves someday.
Not that I’m keeping track though. I wish Mom would spend more of it. Buy herself some nice things, travel, and enjoy life a bit more as she enters her twilight years.
I’ve sometimes thought over the years, “If they don’t need it, why did Mom teach me to give when I was young?” She’s pretty good at financial planning, so she probably knew she’d have enough money into old age. So it’s not a question of necessity. It’s not about the amount either.
The only thing I can think of — she wanted me to learn how to give lovingly. To experience the blessings that come from giving from the heart. And to understand that to love is to sacrifice.
Okay, honestly — she probably had a selfish reason too — to feel like the proudest mother in the world when I give.
But that’s OK. I cheat too. The biggest reason why I give money to my parents is really a selfish one:
It makes me happy.
The original version of this article first appeared at Emmagem.
Pic Credit: Pixabay
Thanks for such amazing article. I’ve been reading your article since 2018 but only to come across this piece today. I’ve been working for almost 3 years, but I have not been giving my parents little contributions on monthly basis. I only give my parents during festive seasons such as CNY, Mooncake festivals, certain celebrations, their birthdays (as red packet) and etc.
I’ve been practising these because, similar to your parents, mine did not ask. They would say save it up first. (Both of my parents are still working). After declining for third time, then I eventually stopped after my third month of giving.
So I resort to giving during festive seasons. and now, after reading this article, Im totally overwhelmed by guilt. Should I continue practising my current way of giving or should I just give it to them without bothering whatever reasons until they eventually receive it subconciously?
First of all, it’s never my intention to cause anyone to feel guilt. I think everyone should do what’s best for their own situation. So yeah, don’t have to feel bad.
Secondly, I’m a big believer that whatever we give our parents will be very appreciated. (They may reject but in their hearts I’m sure they love it.) So yeah, if possible do just ignore their decline and give. 🙂
“The biggest reason why I give money to my parents is really a selfish one: It makes me happy.” I love this. This is exactly how it makes me feel, too.
Thanks so much for the kind words. Wishing you the best with the website!
First, I have to apologize for my language I try to comunicate the best I can .
I read and understand how your family being polite and never ask which is opposite than I am. My mom always ask when I don’t have and always want more. I do love her but inside I also doubt that is she call me only money reason? Cause she never call me to just ask how are you? And even I give her every month. She still expect me to pay everything’s if I’m with her. Almost every time I don’t pay she start to tell pp around in that situation that I’m a stingy. Once she ask maid to buy her thing then she tell maid to get a tips from me “she have money” that the word she tell someone else. And the day after maid come to me to borrow money. Now I start to feel that why she behave like so selfish and harsh the me. And only me in 3 daughter who is always be the bin of the family. Now I have a plan to isolate myself from my horribly family. I love them but It’s time for me to happy. Thank you for reading my story.
Thanks for sharing, and I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you’re going through. Sometimes family members can get toxic in their expectations (they are after all human too), and it may be wise to set boundaries and take a step back. Wishing you much success and please stay strong.
I’m really stress right now!
I just worked for 5 months or so and my mom said that I should give my dad a fixed amount of money each months it cost me around 15% of my total income. I planed to do this since it was a good thing to do , it was a must do to express your gratitude for your parents in Asian way, just like you said. But right now my girlfriend known about the money I gave my dad and she disagree with me. She said my mom should not request the money and my parent should’ve plan to live by his/her own from the start. She strongly did not agree and gave me an example of her family ( her parents did not request any money from her). She told me to saved it for our marriage and for buying a house. I was really angry and argued with her. What should I do . I believed she is a good girl but our way of thinking is so different . And true that her family was richier than my… I doubt should I break up with her because this different opinion? I am really stress right now.. I decided to decieved her that I did not give my parents any money.. but in fact I did.
I think you guys need to have a long, honest talk about money and your principles la. Try to find out why she’s against you giving money to your parents; and if you guys can’t come to an agreement and compromise, then maybe it’s better to part ways. For what it’s worth — from my Asian perspective it does sound very weird la for a daughter to not wanna give some money to the parents.
I am having a big stressful with this I don’t know who can I share with. now I found your wrote about this I’m also Asia girl who is having foreign boyfriend he doesn’t like if I share money with my mom I’m so sad cuz I love my mom and I love him also but I cannot leave my mum even she just 40 year old woman but she carry one youngest brother school. When I send her just little bit I’m so happy even she never ask my help but I know how she sad because we are Asian we are helping each other . Sometimes I want to take them shopping buy what she want but I’m scared from my boyfriend. When it the end of the month I’m stressed again cuz if work a lot and get double pay I want to give them more cuz she really need my help. And they don’t like my boyfriend cuz sometimes he really grow to me but it’s was. now he change but I’m still scared cuz now if I leave him go back to my mom it not good cuz small house for 5ppl no room for me I have to share my bed with my younger step sister and my own younger brother. I can’t stay there if I live my own it won’t work cuz expensive to rent my boyfriend told me why he should work for me and work for family it’s also right but I’m still Asian. He left his job his Country for me that why it’s so stressful for me???? What should I do? My mom or my boyfriend? But I want both
Such a tough situation I know. I don’t have any good answers, but maybe some thoughts:
1. Your mom will always be your mom, and your family will always be your family.
2. I don’t know how serious you are with your boyfriend, but if you want to be with him long-term, he needs to get along with your family well. Otherwise it will be very painful.
3. “Being scared” of your boyfriend doesn’t sound like a very healthy relationship. Love should be based on respect and compromise?
Need to somehow find a compromise (and there will be sacrifices to make), but I wouldn’t be able to advise much further than this…
Got to know about your site when you came to BFM for an interview. Enjoyed reading this article. My mom asked for a fraction of my salary when I got my first job, it was hard then because I was on a RM1300 basic, I didn’t understand why back then. Years later I finally understood why.
Thanks for writing in Grace!
Yes, there are deeper meanings behind the request for salary, that our wiser parents knew about way before us!
I get to know you through BFM 89.9 during the interviews. And then I google it up, here I am.
This is the first article I read from your site and it’s resonate so much. Thumbs up and legs up agree with your view.
Great articles, keep it up! I’m coming back for more!
Please let me know if you ever have any suggestions!
Just found your site (directed by Suraya of Ringgit Oh Ringgit). It’s awesome and I’m slowly going through all the posts. This one resonates so much.
Your mum sounds a lot like mine. I too wish mum would spend the money I give her on herself but rather, she gives it back by buying yummy food for me or stashing it away for us in the future. By the way, the buying food for me … that’s also a damned Asian thing haha! That’s how Asian parents demonstrate their love. “Nah! Eat la!”
And the last line in your post? That’s me exactly.
Looking forward to your future posts.
Thank you Isabel!
Wishing the best to you and your family. And please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement yeah?
This article just resonates for me.
I share the same feeling of shame (and sadness) of not able to give them money that I used to give them in the past.
Which could have make their lives easier.
Striving and hoping for a better 2017.
It’s okay. As long as you’re doing your best. All the best ahead for 2017!
Great article. Keep it up.
Thanks khoojen! Hope you’ll be back for more.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. Well-written article. While most finance blogs teach on how to gain more (which is a good thing), I’m glad that you have highlighted the importance of giving all the time! Keep it up Aaron!
Giving is great. No amount of BMWs, houses, or luxury items can beat the happiness that comes from giving.
i agree with you. even though you call yourself mr stingy but you only are stingy with yourself and not your parents
Thanks rajie. That’s the whole idea really. To give more resources to things that’ll make us happy (like giving to family), and taking away resources from less meaningful things.
I agree with your view. Like a 110%. Personally; when my parents had very little budget ; they still didn’t show the difficult and continued to provide even during the worst time when I was studying.
It’s all about prioritising. The process teaches us how we should prioritise experience expenditure and family comes FIRST. It’s definitely an Asian thing that we should be proud of.
I really hope more of us do that. It’s all about the taught and never about the amount. That’s parents.
Thank you Rameson
A great sharing. I already read the salary contribution post and yes, giving should be part of our salary. As a Muslim, we believe, when we give more, God will gives us back more. My mum taught me to have a portion to give to needy people because she said, part of the salary belongs to those who are less fortunate. Thus, giving back is no harm at all but taught us to love each other and have empathy than sympathy. Thank you for your sharing. Really enjoy it. 🙂
Thank you Fiqa,
I’m not a Muslim, but I also truly believe that when we give, God blesses us back even more. Best wishes to you!