At Age 60, I’m Learning to Accept My Daughter’s Financial Support

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  • After years of working for nonprofits, I’m approaching 60 with no pension or retirement plans.
  • While financial aid in North America “should” only flow from parent to child, that was not the case for me.
  • It was uncomfortable, but my daughter and son-in-law support me financially.

I’ll be 60 soon. For me, the prospect of retirement is daunting. Or rather, if I didn’t have a daughter with whom I have an extraordinary relationship.

At some point, of course, I have to stop working at my age. If I do that, I would have an incredibly low standard of living without help. Impossible because my total income from the Canadian government will be around $1,500 a month.

I have never had a job with a pension, nor have I been able to save. The average price for a studio in Toronto, where I live, is currently $2,100. Luckily, I live in a rent-controlled two-bedroom for $1,800. I share it with a recent refugee, which helps both of us.

I’m on a waiting list for decent subsidized senior housing that could bring me as little as $600 a month. The waiting list is about 12 years long, but I found out about it in time. Should I need assisted living, well… I can’t bear to think about it. The pandemic has proven that Ontario, like many other North American provinces and states, considers seniors expendable.

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My financial journey has not been linear

I grew up with racial and class privileges. My intention was not to waste it but to spread it. I’ve worked in the non-profit sector, trying to share opportunities and hopes more equitably. Unfortunately, much of this work has been undone. After many layoffs, I decided to run my own business, which failed spectacularly at the same time as my relationship. Since then I have been penniless.

My mother died when I was only 26 years old. I was too confused by the grief and stress of taking care of my father to deal with the ensuing windfall. My inheritance wasn’t enough to live lavishly, but enough to put down a substantial down payment on a house. I invested $45,000 on a $149,000 lot, I remember it clearly. I sort of slipped about the same amount through my fingers—and my husband’s, which were extra smooth. We were too young not to want to travel and eat out and buy grown-up things.

I was able to stay in the housing market until my business went bust. But as a woman in her 50s, I found my employability appallingly limited when I had to return to the labor market. I couldn’t even get the low-paying job I had previously done without a postgraduate degree. And I didn’t have any of those because I became a parent very young.

Things started going south pretty quickly. I only got temporary contracts and ended up working as a nanny. I got into more and more debt, didn’t live big, just bought groceries, prescription drugs, and sometimes a bit of art to keep my spirits up.

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I ended up having to consolidate my debt through a bankruptcy treaty, which wrecked my credit but saved my bacon. Nearly. However, a few months were still too short for me when I had unforeseen expenses or had given in to a small urge to push myself to the limit. It really sucked. I had to think long and hard about how I got here and try to forgive myself.

Asking my daughter for help was awkward but we make it work

In North America, where adversity is supposed to be overcome and where the myth of the self-made man still dominates, financial help should only flow from parents to children.

Much has been written lately about the fact that only those millennials who can bank with mom or dad will ever buy a house. Some of my contemporaries still go to their aging mothers’ or fathers’ bank to make ends meet because the generation that paid 3 times the annual salary for a home instead of 10 times the annual salary was able to save. Many of my colleagues – especially the artists – have no pensions and inflation is unmanageable.

I had to do the unthinkable and go to the daughter and son-in-law’s bank, not that their reserve is large – they’ve just completed a multitude of university degrees and are in the process of establishing themselves.

Why is child-to-parent financial help so shameful? In many cultures it would not. Elders are respected, even revered. You will be taken care of first. But not in my social environment.

It felt very uncomfortable to have to ask my daughter for help. All I could do to save face was joke that if she had kids I would provide more than her money in free child care. what she did And I did; I cared for my granddaughter full time for a year during the pandemic. I continue to rush back and forth to help with her new twin sisters as often as my part-time job and writing assignments allow. While we were navigating this mutual aid agreement, my daughter talked me into quitting math.

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My daughter Emma, ​​now 36, often reminds me of the values ​​I taught her (she wasn’t exactly a red diaper baby, she was quite pink): dependency is not weakness, economic polarity is appalling, greed is pretty much the worst mistake a human can have. And money is no way of measuring value. So I try to heed her memories.

I no longer write promissory notes to pursue their help. I’m glad I succumbed to a life insurance sales pitch years ago; I feel good if I leave at least that as there will be no inheritance. However, what makes me feel a lot better is knowing that my beneficiary doesn’t care about the policy and would prefer not to collect for a very long time.

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