National Bonds Corporation: Happiness and the Sandwich Generation
Meriem Zahouani, Associate Director - Wealth Management / Senior Financial Advisor
Ensure a safe future by putting aside at least 10 to 15 per cent of your monthly salary
By Meriem Zahouani
Published: Wed 23 Aug 2017, 1:18 PM
Last updated: Wed 23 Aug 2017, 3:23 PM
A research study conducted in 2017 by the Varkey Foundation for the Global Economic Council revealed that seven out of 10 Gen-Z youngsters worldwide are feeling happy in their present.
According to the study that surveyed 20,000 young people aged 15 to 21 from 20 countries, most of those who feel happy live in developed countries and belong to mid-income social segments.
The most significant finding is that the feeling of happiness recedes with age, with 52 per cent of participants in the 19 to 21 age group surveyed saying they feel happy, compared to 68 per cent of 15- to 16-year-olds.
The most important factors that contribute to happiness include financial stability (85 per cent), good health (84 per cent), and balanced friendships and family life. Based on these results, when we get older, we can expect our happiness levels to take a nosedive as our health declines and our financial resources dwindle.
As a middle-aged woman, I consider myself a member of the so-called 'sandwich generation'. For those who wonder what on earth this means, people belonging to this generation are in their forties and tend to juggle their professional duties with raising kids, often teenagers, and taking care of ageing parents at the same time. Even as they are approaching retirement, they feel the need to provide for everyone who depends on them.
Having such big responsibilities, existing and potential, requires proactive planning to reduce the amount of pressure as well as the financial burden. Even if we make it to the big five-oh in good shape, our parents may have health issues that require a special budget for medication and treatment. In addition, living costs can skyrocket since the family now has three generations, each with its own needs.
In order to live a happy life while our parents are still with us and our teenagers are yet to fly the nest, we have to manage our lifestyle carefully so that we do not end up depending on others for help when we run into financial problems. If we want to handle our responsibilities efficiently, without financial pressure, and with peace of mind, we have to start financial planning at an early age.
Getting into a regular saving habit early in our career protects us from worrying about our finances once we reach middle age. The later we start saving, the less able we will be to meet the demands of our families in the future.
Today, financial planning has become even more important than the actual income earned. No matter how much money we make, it is of no use to us if we spend lavishly, and resort to credit cards and loans whenever the cash runs out.
During my 20-year career in financial planning and consulting, I have met many people who had well-paid jobs or had inherited massive wealth. However, they were careless with their daily spending and did not have any financial plans in place until they reached a point where they turned to me to help salvage the situation and get them out of trouble.
One way to ensure we steer clear of this predicament is to automatically put aside at least 10 to 15 per cent of our monthly salary. However, for people of the sandwich generation, a lot of factors - such as job loss, ailing parents, or rising school fees - may put a spanner in the works. Though it is never too late to start saving, those who get on the bandwagon early, while the demands on their budget are minimal, have a much better chance of a healthy financial future.
Whenever we feel the temptation to dip into our savings to pay for something non-essential, we should remember that what we do - and how much we save - in the period between early adulthood and retirement has the power to determine how happy we will be for the rest of our lives.
Meriem Zahouani is Associate Director - Wealth Management / Senior Financial Advisor