Money & Relationships: How to financially support your parents after your marriage

Find out the best way to apportion funds for your in-laws or parents without triggering fights or jeopardising your own financial goals.

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If your parents require regular monetary assistance, it’s better to involve other siblings to reduce your own financial strain.
Are you having frequent fights with your spouse because he or she is spending an inordinately large part of income on his or her parents? While children in India have been conditioned to support their parents in old age, times are changing.

The rising number of nuclear families, higher cost of living, and parents asserting their financial independence through retirement planning, means that the concept of kids as a retirement plan has taken a beating. So how should you support your parents after you have a family of your own? Here’s how:

1. Talk to your spouse

Ideally, you should have a chat with your partner before or immediately after marriage about your plans to support the parents. If you have decided to help, be upfront about whether it will be a regular contribution or only on special occasions and emergencies. Also discuss the percentage of salary that you want to allocate. Do not lie to your spouse or give money on the sly. If your spouse expresses resentment or opposes the decision, try to compromise on the extent of financial support and allay the partner’s fears about it impacting your finances or goals.

2. Put your family goals first
When you get married and have children, your family should be your top priority. Ensure that you have a budget, an emergency corpus and adequate insurance, have mapped out your goals and are investing for them. By all means help out your parents if they need it, but try not to do it at the expense of your own family.

3. Help parents in other ways
Another way to help parents is to assist them in setting their finances in order. Buy them adequate health and critical illness insurance to ensure their medical expenses are taken care of in old age. Guide their investments with an optimum mix of equity and debt, so that they don’t feel the need to fall back on you after they retire.

4. Don’t ignore emergencies, involve other siblings
If your parents require regular monetary assistance, it’s better to involve other siblings to reduce your own financial strain.

In fact, it is best to sit down with the family, come to a consensus and have a tangible plan that is acceptable to everyone. Also, make sure that you do not ignore any medical or other emergencies that your parents find themselves in. Be there financially, physically and emotionally when your parents need you the most.

5. Give spouse some privacy
As long as your family’s finances are in order, it’s a good idea to allow the spouse some financial privacy. So, ideally have a joint account for household expenses and individual accounts for personal spending. It should be your spouse’s prerogative on how he or she wants to spend the money from his/her personal account without being held accountable for it.

6. Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
On the other extreme, if you are thinking of absolving yourself of all financial responsibility towards your parents even though they need help, remember that this Act makes it legal and mandatory for adult children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents.

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All of us have been in a financial dilemma when it comes to relationships. How do you say no to a friend who wants you to invest in his new business venture? Should you take a loan from your married brother? Are you concerned about your wife’s impulse buying? If you have any such concerns that are hard to resolve, write in to us at with ‘Wealth Whines’ as the subject.

The advice in this column is not from a licensed healthcare professional and should not be construed as psychological counselling, therapy or medical advice. ET Wealth and the writer will not be responsible for the outcome of the suggestions made in the column.
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