Are you a part of the sandwich generation? Not even sure what that means? The sandwich generation can be defined as folks in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who have children of their own to take care of but also face the responsibility of looking after their aging parents as well. It can be a complicated situation to be in.
In regards to your parents, the "care" part of this balancing act can be financial, as well as, managing their lifestyle, and may also include the facilitation of their medical care. Many Gen X families find themselves as members of this “sandwich generation.”
When you have financial responsibilities for your own family and your aging parents, it can feel overwhelming. You might feel like you're taking care of just about everyone in your life.
You're not alone as the Pew Research Center estimates that 47 percent of adults face this lifestyle predicament just like you.1 Here are a few ways to avoid getting financially squeezed when you're a member of the sandwich generation.
Lean on Siblings
Sometimes people feel like they need to shoulder all of the responsibility in caring for their aging parents. You might be the oldest in your family and are generally the one everyone else looks toward in taking care of family matters, including mom or dad’s care. If this sounds like you and you have siblings that might be able to help out more, don't wait to ask for their assistance. Unless you’ve specifically been told, “you’re on your own” by your siblings, they might just be waiting for you to divide up some of the duties, financial or otherwise.
Keep Your Own Financial Goals in Mind
You want to ensure you do not blow through whatever savings you might have, which is very easy to do with kids in college, or parents that need assisted care. Keeping your own financial goals in mind is important. Try to not to dip into your retirement savings either because then you’re setting your own children up to have to stress about your care later on in life which can create a vicious cycle.
Set Limits With College Age and Grown Children
This is the toughest one to dish out advice-wise. Your babies are your babies and they will always be your babies, to a point. But those adult children who are either in college or freshly out of college might need you to set limits on what you provide them, so they can learn to be self-sufficient adults. Always coming to their financial rescue can take its toll on your own finances and your life in general. Limits are necessary and will eventually allow your grown children to stand on their own two feet. Helping out in an emergency is one thing, but always coming to their aid with a handout is another.
Look into a Long-Term Care Policy
This goes for your aging parents or for yourself if you are in your 50s. By waiting too long to evaluate whether or not a long-term care policy makes sense, the premiums will continue to increase as you get older. Your parents are already there, but purchasing this coverage for them might help you out financially as they get even older or become ill. No one likes to think about these things, but being prepared will help you deal with their future care.
If you need some guidance on how to care for your family and your parents at the same time, consider talking to a financial planner who can help you align your financial resources while making mindful decisions towards these competing priorities.
Protecting yourself and allocating your assets while being mindful of everyone involved will help you feel like you are doing the right thing as part of the sandwich generation.