My parents are in debt and I give the bulk of my salary to them. The rest of my salary is used to pay off my own university loans, transport, phone bills, insurance. How do I help my family live more comfortably and reduce our debt? - Seedly
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SG Budget Babe

Anonymous

Asked on 22 Mar 2020

My parents are in debt and I give the bulk of my salary to them. The rest of my salary is used to pay off my own university loans, transport, phone bills, insurance. How do I help my family live more comfortably and reduce our debt?

My dad is also making a loss as a taxi driver from rent, he is in retirement age with zero savings.

I almost never spend money on non-essentials and I spend less than $3 on meals to save money, yet my family is still struggling. How do I help my family live more comfortably and reduce our debt?

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Sharon
Sharon
Level 6. Master
Answered on 25 Mar 2020

You might want to reach out to Family Service Centre in your area to see how they can help or see if you're able to leverage on their network to another organisation that could help.

CDC has a tie-up with Maybank on a financial literacy workshop to teach about financial knowledge and money management skills. It's offered to low-income families referred by Family Service Centre and 4 other partners.

https://www.cdc.org.sg/centralsingapore/contentdetails/cashup-family-savers

I'd think means testing is required. You may want to consider to see the Family Service Centre can offer any insights.

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Samuel Yap

25 Mar 2020

This is so helpful 👍
Takingstock @
Takingstock @
Level 6. Master
Answered on 24 Mar 2020

There's not too much info, so I would rather prompt you to probe in these directions

1) why is your dad driving taxi a loss? A few directions to look at - a) he is not making profitable trips, b) he is driving around looking for business where there is none, c) there are earnings but its not enough for him to eat or pay bills, d) the earnings are going somewhere (eg gambling, women, loan to friends).

each of these has a different answer, but you need to talk to him and find the root cause. While working at an old age is a good way to keep him active (and avoid things like dementia), doing it at a loss does not make sense. There may be things he is not telling you, the worst possible is gambling, women, drugs, or alcohol. If it is just not enough profitable trips, you might want to help him explore how to identify and make profitable ones.

2) what types of debt does your family have? Where does it come from? The killer type of debt is loan shark and consumer loans, including credit cards. Credit card interest on unpaid amounts can be 2% monthly or more. Ask them for the statements, the total amount owed, work out what is the highest interest bearing debt. Work on clearing that off to the max of your ability. Interest can kill folks and make things unprofitable

how to identify effective monthly interest charges - look for the interest charge amount on the statement, add any fees including late payment fees, admin charge, fx charges etc. Divide (interest + fees) / debt owed = effective interest rate. I will not be surprised if the effective interest is more than 5% monthly, you will have to work out what is the key driver and tackle that. If the effective interest rate is as high as I say, you will need to approach debt counsellors or feel free to reach out further.

2nd part of tackling debt - calculate the amount of debt owed / parents' income. If this is 6 mths or less, you can tackle this pretty easily (within 3 years). If it is 12 months or more, you got a big problem. If it is 18 months or more, you may need to consider asking them to file for bankruptcy to make the problem more manageable.

I will wait for your comment / reply. You seem like you may need real financial advice to tackle debt.

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Samuel Yap

25 Mar 2020

Thank You!

Earn high, spend less, review finances

Earn high

Get a job that pays well

Do side hustles

Spend less

Clear off all high interest debts

Do debt restructing

Find out all the places that are leaking money and see how to slow it down

Review Finances

Track monthly spending and earnings

Know your cashflow, balance sheet and income statement

I make videos about interesting stuff at youtube here​​​

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Mentality

There are two main attributes that we need in order to overcome this - discipline, and focus.

Debt

Firstly, we need to find out what are the debts, as well as whether there is any interest associated with it. Create a spreadsheet that is able to help you to this end.

Cash Flow

Next, we need to have a complete understanding on our cashflow. Through this process, we will understand our earning ability and spending habit.

Here is a Guide:

Understanding Your Personal Cash Flow

Once this step is completed, we will need to do two things, 1) increase income; and 2) reduce expenses.

To increase income, you may consider to take on part-time jobs whenever time prevails, e.g. weekend. While this is tiring, it is also one of the most efficient and effective way to boost your net cash flow. In effect, we can use the extra money to reduce debts effectively.

To reduce expenses, we will need to study your cash flow statement (template available from the post above) to find out how we can organise your finances.

Furthermore, we will create a proper plan to 1) pay off the debt; and 2) get out of the struggle now.

Budgeting

In order to achieve these goals, we will create a budget that we need to stick to. The best way to do this is via automation.

How I do My Budget:

How to create a Monthly Budget

Thereafter, conduct reviews on a monthly basis to know where you are, and where you will be in 6 months' time - never lose track of your goals.

So long as you follow through the planning in a systematic manner, I'm confident that you will be fine. =)

And most importantly, do not borrow money in order to pay debts. Instead, focus on increasing your income and reducing your expenses. Never add debt on debt!

I share quality content on estate planning and financial planning here.

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