How Much Should You Give to Your Parents?

17th May 2018
counting money to give to your parents

So you landed your first “real” job. And I do use the term “real” very loosely here. You get the feeling the world is yours to shape and mould to your liking! At least, your world. Suddenly that $12 pasta for a dinner out with friends is not an impossibility! Simply your willingness to go for it or not. Going through all your wants and needs, you come to one; and it’s a big one! You want to share your newfound wealth with your parents. But how much should you give to your parents?

This post was actually spurred by “Ms. Curious” who very nicely worded this question amongst a long list through my feedback form. Thanks a lot Miss! I’ll say this first though: not everyone are the same. Some parents prefer you keep the money for your needs and necessities. And on the other spectrum, there are those who expects payment for their hard work raising you. Regardless of which persona you encounter, I’ll share with you my “rules of thumb”, if you could call them that. When you choose to give to your parents, it’s just that; your choice. But beyond that choice…

Can you afford to give to your parents?

Let’s get this out of the way shall we? First thing’s first, no matter how romantic it may seem to pay back to the ones who raised you, financially, it’s still an expense. Looking from an objective point of view, it needs to fit into your budget. Why? So that you don’t suddenly seem to have money disappearing every month! Plus keeping it strictly financial will allow you to actually plan your finances better!

So if you are spending 100% of your paycheck every month on your personal spending, don’t expect to able to give to your parents unless you want to burn through your savings. But if, as the Singaporeans say, you “die-die want to give”, there are ways to fit this into your budget!

So how much should you give your parents?

If you’re like me as one of the “die-die need to” team, one of the first things that would have crossed your mind is “How much?”. I’ll share with you the considerations I took so you can determine if it’s right for you.

1. Use a percentage of your pay

One of the ways we usually start off, is thinking “Is $50 enough? How about $100?” but using a flat value is inefficient. $100 of a $350 paycheck is HUGE while $100 of a $5,000 pay is pretty small! It’s all relative. So what we can do is use a percentage. I generally budget 10% of my paycheck towards this. This way, when your pay increases, your parents also enjoy a “pay raise”! Plus 10% of $350 is $35; compared to $100 which is 3 times more! Bear in mind, this 10% rule is simply as an allowance and not meant to fully support their lifestyles. Just imagine living on 10% of your wage yourself; it may be possible but still quite tough.

2. Are your parents self-sufficient? Or is this a necessity?

Are they retired with pension or some source of income such as TAP or side business? If not, do they rely on YOU to bring home the bacon? Meaning are they your dependents for a living? If so, then you may want to consider upping the percentage if you’re not sharing costs for groceries and household necessities. Otherwise, you may simply account for this into your own budget and consider it as extra pocket money.

3. It’s all about the budget!

I know. Budgeting is boring (and scary when you see negatives!) but it’s the foundation of a good financial plan. By tracking your spendings, you may find some things you are putting money into can be reduced and therefore be better off given to your parents. Plus, by budgeting this allowance into your plan, you won’t risk going over budget consistently!

4. It’s your choice

At the end of the day, it’s your call whether you want to set aside an amount of money to give to your parents. I can have no say in that because it will be derived from your core values. The same goes if you were considering on decreasing the amount or to stop giving them money for some time. But one thing though, it’s best to tell them your intention beforehand and not just outright cutting the allowance. This is extra important for those who rely on your allowance for a living.


A common thought that runs through a lot of the newly welcomed working class is how much they should give to their parents. While it’s not a must to do so, I’m sure they will really appreciate the gesture! Nonetheless, I practice giving 10% of my take-home pay as allowance. People who need to support their parents fully likely can’t follow this rule of thumb though. The most important habit to build here is not to “write it off” and therefore let your money disappear into the abyss. Treat this allowance as an expense and allocate your budget properly for a sustainable gift-giving!

There are three degrees of filial piety. The highest is being a credit to our parents, the second is not disgracing them; the lowest is being able simply to support them.

– Confucius

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