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Should I Continue Paying For My Parents' Utility Bills Now That I'm Married?
PHOTO BY @monkeybusinessimages/iStock
  • Money is always a tricky topic to discuss. And if that isn’t hard enough, try throwing in family and friends into the mix (what a mess, for sure!). Luckily, with our financial experts’ advice, you can sort out these sticky situations if you ever find yourself in one of them.

    Helping parents out in their old age

    Q: “I’ve paid for my parents’ utility bills since I started working up to the present. My husband is okay with it, but recently we’ve had to control our budget. He suggested that perhaps my other siblings could pitch in. What should I do?”

    A. If you live with your parents and siblings under one roof, I don’t see any reason why it would be wrong to pay for the utility bills. (However, if you live in separate households, you may have to rethink this expense.) Filipinos would normally pick up some of their parents’ household expenses when they start working, as a sign of gratitude for, and the recompense to, what their parents sacrificed to put them through school. 

    You are having difficulty letting go of this expense because you equate it with your love for your parents. Put yourself in their shoes. If they are financially independent and can pay for the utilities easily, your coming up to them to explain that you will stop paying the bills will not be an issue. I do believe they will be more than willing to let you stop because they know you now have responsibilities as a married person. If, on the other hand, they were financially strapped for cash, then it would be natural for you to talk to your siblings and explain that they may also want to contribute.


    When you speak to your siblings, point out that a communal effort is needed to support your parents. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on your difficulty. You might not get the cooperation you desire if the discussion will focus on you, and not on your mom and dad. - Joe Ferreria, President of MoneyDoctors Inc, a personal finance consulting firm. He began his financial consultancy practice in 1990.

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    How much to save for retirement

    Q: “I’m 32 years old and a career mom to two kids aged 3 and 1. I’m already thinking about my retirement. Aside from making regular SSS contributions, how can I prepare my nest egg? I don’t want to become a financial burden on my children in my old age.”

    A: You have 28 years prior to retirement age, and it’s good that you don’t intend to be a part of the vicious cycle of financial dependence, an unspoken Filipino tradition. 

    You may want to use retirement calculators available for free online. My husband and I simplified it: “Annual expenses x Number of years before you go to heaven.” That’s the amount of money you should have when you retire. Also, have a good combination of equity and fixed-income investments. Some use “100-your age” as the percentage of equity (for example, if you are 32 years old, then 68 percent should go to equity); the balance goes to fixed-income investments. - Rose Fres Fausto was an investment banker before becoming a full-time mom to three sons. She graduated with honors from the Ateneo de Manila Universirty with a degree in AB Economics. 

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    Burned by pyramiding scams

    Q: “My friend works for a direct-sales company. She has asked me to invest. How can I tell if it’s not another pyramiding, get-rich-quick scheme?”

    A: To determine if the company your friend works for is worthwhile, you need to answer two questions. First, is it selling a legitimate product? And second, will your income depend on recruiting people?

    I have seen a lot of people recruiting for direct-sales organizations and, eventually, the business depends on more recruits to keep it going. As the recruits “invest” by buying more and more products, they end up not making money , since most of their income is spent trying to sustain the organization. 

    If you want to make money out of directly selling a product, then go ahead. But if you need to drag friends and relatives into the organization to make money, don’t do it. If the organization collapses, the damage to your personal reputation would be difficult to repair. - Joe Ferreria

    The above originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Smart Parenting magazine, and the August 2015 and September 2015 issues of Good Housekeeping Philippines magazine. 

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