How Much Money Should You Give Back To Your Parents?


It’s an Asian thing to do, giving parents money.

For most of us, our parents worked hard to bring us up, and in those years, they would have spent a large chunk of their hard earned money on us. Therefore, the least a child can do upon entering the workforce is to provide their parents with some monetary assistance.

Malaysia, which is currently the second fastest ageing country in the world, is expected to become an aged nation in about 25 years. An aged nation is one whose post-working citizenry — those aged 65 and above — constitutes 14% of the country’s population. The elderly population is expected to almost double to 4.9 million from 2015 to 2030.

Even if our parents have pensions or retirement savings from EPF, the amount you hand to them can help them enjoy retirement without worry. And did you know that many Malaysians cannot afford to enjoy their retirement because they don’t have enough savings? EPF statistics show that two out of three EPF members aged 54 have retirement savings of less than RM50,000, putting them at risk of living below the poverty line. 50% of EPF members above the age of 55 exhaust their savings in five years while 31% of them achieve savings of around RM228,000 when they turn 55.

Effective 1st January 2019, EPF had raised the minimum target of Basic Savings members should have, to RM240,000 upon reaching Age 55. The Basic Savings refers to the amount that is considered sufficient to support members’ basic needs for 20 years upon retirement, from Age 55 to 75 aligned with the Malaysian life expectancy.

Learn to give.

It will give you a sense of accomplishment, and you know how the saying goes “the hand that gives is better than the hand that receives.” Doesn’t matter how much you give to your parents, you learn the act of giving by doing so, and it also teaches you to care for others. While our parents will probably never admit it, they do feel proud of you because it shows you’ve grown into a financially stable adult who has their financial matters well under control.

So how much should you give?

Although most parents will not ask directly, or expect their children to give them much, do know that more often than not, it is the gesture that counts. And yes, it is a very strong Asian culture to practice filial piety.

Ideally it would be good if you can ensure the amount of money you give your parents takes care of their medical bills and basic expenses. But if that’s not possible, no matter what amount you give them it is bound to come in handy to relief some financial burden off your parents. Below is a guide of how much you can give your parents to cover for their necessities.  But do note that you don’t have to make sure you provide enough to cover for all, although if you can afford to do so, you should!

  • RM150 for electricity
  • RM300 for groceries
  • RM150 for insurance

So let’s say you give them RM500 every month, you will then be helping them out with their groceries and electricity. However, if you can only afford to give them RM200 a month, you’re still helping out with their electricity bills, so every bit really does help. Of course, there are other expenses that need to be accounted for depending on an individual and how much you can afford to give your parents will greatly depend on how much money you earn.

Do remember that your parents will be growing older and health complications are bound to come with old age, making a good medical insurance policy a necessity as well. Ensuring they have the right medical coverage and helping them with the monthly payments will also put both your parents and yourself at ease.

As we’ve mentioned before, most of the time it is not the amount but more of the act of giving itself.

But let’s say you really don’t have money to give your parents after you pay for all your financial commitments. Don’t worry, here are some suggestions on how you can give back to your parents aside from handing them cash. Because giving back to your parents need not always be about providing them with financial support per se.

  • Visit more often. Your time is priceless to your parents.
  • Do household chores for them
  • Contribute by getting groceries for your parents
  • Drive them to their doctor’s appointment
  • Treat them to dinner or lunch every once in a while

So the next time your mother says, “I haven’t eaten at that seafood restaurant in a while”, take the hint and treat her to a meal at her favourite eatery! Although the difference in our upbringing can mean parents may or may not expect to receive money from their children, do know that there are other ways to give back to your parents, and it’s not always just about handing them money.