I was reading the Aug 10 to Aug 16, 2020 issue of The Edge Singapore recently, when I came across this article titled “Fullerton’s Chan worries for your retirement as Singapore’s population ages”.
The article is basically an interview with veteran fund manager, Vincent Chan.
Chan is the head of multi asset at Fullerton Fund management. In the article, he urged young singles when choosing a life partner to avoid those who are single child. That is because the financial burden of supporting elderly parents and rearing children will fall disproportionately more on the shoulders of those belonging to this particular demographic.
He mentioned that Singapore’s fast double digit growth is a distant memory, and young people are getting yearly salary increment that barely beat inflation. While at the same time, medical costs are rising at around 10% every year.
I find his views rather odd, and too one dimensional.
By the way, that statement was altered in the online version (read here). I guess they were late in editing that portion for the physical copies before they were mass printed and distributed.
As if by coincidence, The Sunday Times (25 Oct 2020) came up with an article titled “The cost of taking care of parents”. Read here.
In this article, it stated that the going rate of the monthly allowance Singaporeans give to their parents ranges from $200 to $1000 (depending on how much the children earn). A recent HSBC survey showed that 84% of Singaporeans will contribute and pay part, if not most, of their parents’ recurring cost such as living expenses and medical bills.
The money Singaporean spend on their parents is determined by how much they earn. Almost half of those in the affluent group mentioned that they would pay for most the expenses, while only 24% of the mass group would consider paying a large part of the costs.
The survey polled workers aged 40 and above with parents likely to be in their 60s to 80s. The so-called sandwiched generation, whereby they have to take care of aging parents and young children.
In the next article titled “The Cost of Being Elderly In Singapore” dated April 2020 (read here), it mentioned from a recent study 86% of aged Singaporeans stated that they could rely on their adult children to care for financial support.
And listed the example, if you have two kids who are still in primary school who are taking tuition classes within a reasonable price range. Your elderly parents are semi-retired who are ordinarily healthy but they do require monthly medical visits at an average cost that is reasonable.
Your monthly expense could look like this (see below):
Monthly ExpenditureChild pocket money allowance for two primary students: $200.00Child expenditures (Shopping, Food, etc) for two: $200.00Tuition fees for two kids: $600.00Elderly parents allowance: $600.00Medical Fees for parents: $300.00Grand Total: $1,900.00
The average salary in Singapore being S$5.783 per month, and for full time employed Singapore residents, the median gross monthly income from work including CPF employer contribution being S$4,563. (Read here)
So considering that one need to spend S$900 (Elderly parents allowance + Medical fees for parents), and the median monthly income being S$4,563, that is close to 20% of the income monthly. Without a doubt, the financial burden would be lighter if there is another sibling to share the load.
Personally, I find it peculiar to see this statement “Don’t marry a single child” in a finance / business focused magazine. I feel that it belongs more to the social or lifestyle section. We can quantify a lot of things using numbers / money. However, to use that to gauge a future spouse… It is kind of stretching it and too limited.
If I am dating someone, I would probably be more concerned about that person’s character. Did the parents spoil her when she was young.
Ultimately I am looking for a life partner to be with for the rest of the life… and I probably can only survive a month (max) with a spoiled princess who is used to having everything at her beck and call and have a warped sense of entitlement ingrained since young.
Just FYI, most of the people I knew who are single child turned out pretty alright.
Character is of the most importance.
And from a financial aspect, it really depends on how financially stable the family is in… well, if her dad is a gambling or alcoholic addict who owe the loan sharks large sum of money. Then no matter how many siblings to share the burden, it would never be enough.
Or if her parents failed to purchase adequate insurance, and they suffer from some major illnesses which require large sum of money for their medical bills.
Actually, perhaps my perception is distorted.. as the people I know who are the only child, seem to have best of both worlds. Probably because in quite a number of cases, it is because the parents who are already relatively well off.
It is kind of a double-edged sword actually. When you have many siblings, what is passed down from your parents are often divided among your siblings and you. However, if you are the only child, there isn’t much competition on the inheritance.
Also when the parents have only one child, they may not necessary need to spend more time or money (as compared to having many kids), leaving them more time to focus on their career, etc.
I knew of a single child whereby her parents literally gave her a condo shortly after she is married. Well, she now has two kids and is a stay at home mom. And her husband does not really earn much.
And another who failed to complete his A levels, did not hold down a full time job after many tries, and is now in his 30s (and married), He still gets a monthly allowance of $2,000 from his parents. His parents stay in a landed property and are still working. I guess he is fully aware that his life is kind of taken care of — knowing how well-off his parents are.
For me personally, I have two kids. I don’t think I thought about this question ever, when we were considering having a second child. Eg. Would my first child have a problem of finding a life partner if he is an only child.
The main reason is probably because we worried that he would get lonely without a sibling, and if we are financially able to support two kids.
As parents, we should also not view our kids as our retirement fund.
Your kid is not your retirement plan (read here).
Back to the title, should one marry a single child? I reckon one must view the person and his/her family in totality. Does not mean a single child is a bad choice. The person’s character is of the most importance.
This is after all a person whom you are going to be with for the rest of your life.
And we can’t really quantify love.
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