Last Sandwich Generation

Parents: Your Kids Think They’re Doomed

byJoanne Poh
  • Sep 02, 2019
  • 5 mins

Image: iStock

A few years ago, I found myself chatting with Clara, who was at the time enrolled in the IB programme at a school in Singapore. Predictably, the conversation turned to what she hoped to study at university. 

Her matter-of-fact response? “Whatever makes me the most money.”

At such a young age, she had put aside her dreams in favour of pragmatism, no doubt influenced by the financial pressures faced by her own parents.

Having heard her parents frequently lament the difficulties they faced in raising her and her siblings while at the same time financially supporting her grandparents, she was certain that she’d be no different.

As a result, at the tender age of sixteen, she already expected to dedicate her adult life to earning money, to the point where she’d never even considered her own interests and aptitudes when contemplating a future course of study. 

Unfortunately, her response was not all that surprising. 

In Singapore, many of us deal with the struggles associated with being part of the sandwich generation, which is largely composed of working adults between 35 and 55 years old. According to a recent study^ on the sandwich generation in Singapore, a huge 94% of people within the sandwich generation reported feeling pressured under the twin demands of raising kids and supporting aged parents. 
What’s worrying is that these problems are becoming so ingrained and so increasingly seen as “normal” that many Singaporean youth are already steeling themselves for a future in which they suffer the same fate. 

Is Becoming Part Of The Sandwich Generation Inevitable?

Image: iStock

According to the study, an alarming 79% of young Singaporeans surveyed believed they would one day become the next sandwich generation. The current sandwich generation largely agrees, with 73% sharing this belief. 

There are several reasons for this pessimistic outlook. Longer life expectancy is one – 36% of today’s sandwich generation expect to live longer, meaning they will need more money to support themselves over a longer period of time. 30% aren’t sure their savings will be enough to support their retirement and 28% are doubtful their CPF payouts will be able to either. 

Young Singaporeans, too, cited the same reasons for why they thought they would be sandwiched one day: parents living longer, parents’ savings being not enough and insufficient CPF for their parents’ retirement. 

As such, it’s unsurprising that 76% of these young Singaporeans thought it was important to support their parents financially in future. 48% went on to indicate that they felt it was their responsibility to support their parents “no matter what.” 

With almost 60% of today’s sandwich generation not actively working on their retirement plans, young Singaporeans are almost certainly headed towards being sandwiched between supporting both old and young in the family in future. 

Is There Any Way My Kids Can Avoid This?

The good news is that the answer is yes! As a parent you do have the power to help your kids avoid the same situation when they’re older. With better financial literacy and improved financial products and services, you have a better chance of preventing your own kids from being sandwiched compared to the older generations. 

However, helping your kids escape the plight of the sandwich generation does not happen overnight. It will take effort and planning, as well as the determination to act on your plans.

Image: iStock

Worryingly, many people have not quite done what is necessary to help their kids avoid a similar fate. Only 37% of the sandwich generation surveyed already had a plan for retirement in mind but had not started acting on it. Meanwhile, 21% had not started planning for retirement at all.

The good news is that retirement planning, while it may sound daunting, can actually be successfully done by anyone with the right guidance and resources. We’ve identified some of the key barriers that prevent the sandwich generation from acting on their retirement plans, and provided you with some possible solutions. 

34% don’t have a retirement goal in mind, and 30% don’t know where to start.
If you don’t know where to start or don’t have a figure in mind to aim for, free tools like this retirement calculator can help you figure out roughly how much you’ll need to have in order to retire. There are also many educational resources that can help you learn more about planning for retirement. If you feel like you need a more guided approach, try consulting Income’s financial planners to get help with understanding your specific needs.

35% don’t have the resources to act on their retirement plan.
Want to start saving and investing for retirement but don’t think you have the means to do so now? The key is to start small and be consistent. Any little bit counts, no matter how insignificant you think it might be. Making small sacrifices here and there can go a long way towards making sure you and your kids have a better life when you retire. Some savings plans can help you grow your money for as little as $200 a month.

63% don’t review their retirement goals and plans periodically.
Once you’ve got a plan in place, don’t forget to review it regularly and update it if necessary. This is easy with the help of a professional on Advisor Connect, a digital platform that allows you to connect with Income advisors anonymously. He or she will explain the differences between the various policies and recommend the best ones for your situation. Together with your advisor, you can also conduct regular financial reviews to ensure you’re always on track to achieving your goals.

image: iStock

Take Steps To Shape Your Kids’ Future Today

As members of today’s sandwich generation, you cannot change your situation. After all, your parents raised you and you would want to ensure they’ve got the resources they need to see them through their golden years. However, it’s not too late to help your kids, to create a world where they can their chase their dreams, raise their own families and lead the lives they want. That future could still be theirs and the key to it lies in your hands.

Your future financial independence will affect your child’s financial freedom. Start working towards this by planning for your retirement, so your children don’t fall into the sandwich generation trap and can focus on their own families in the future. Take the first step today.

^The research, commissioned by NTUC Income and conducted by Kantar Singapore, was completed online amongst 200 parents aged 35-55 years old and 200 young Singaporeans aged 21-29 years old in July 2019.   

Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 


With over a decade of experience writing, Joanne Poh specialises in insurance, finance, real estate, fintech, and travel. Her work has been featured on Yahoo!, MSN, AsiaOne, and herworldPLUS.

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