Stuck in the middle – Managing the needs of your children and parents can be challenging emotionally and financially for the sandwich generation.
Today, many adults find themselves caring for two generations of their family at the same time. Known as the sandwich generation, they’re stuck in the middle, looking after the needs of their parents and their children. The Pew Research Center found that 15% of adults provide financial support to both aging parents and children.
The reasons for financial support are numerous. These include rising health care costs, financial market performance, difficulty meeting expenses, having children later in life, and funding college. Regardless of why, the sandwich generation is feeling the tug from both ends. They juggle many duties, often at the expense of their own financial security.
Setting aside money for retirement is a major part of a financial plan. It becomes more difficult to remain disciplined when money issues arise. Helping adult children or elderly parents make ends meet may be an emotional and a financial priority. It can seriously disrupt your plan to save for your future. You can counter this by making some adjustments.
Your best defense against the domino effect is to have a plan. Include these steps:
- Increase your emergency savings.
- Reduce your debt.
- Continue your retirement plan contributions.
Save. Save. Save!
Emergency savings is the first step to creating a strong financial strategy. If you’re part of the sandwich generation, uncertainty is constant, so having money in reserve is key. It can financially support your parents or your adult children as needed. Also, it’ll help support the family if you have to take any unpaid leave from work to care.
Lower Your Debt
Any type of debt is a financial burden. Avoid using plastic for purchases or applying for any type of loan without factoring the payments into your overall plan. These monthly bills will add additional financial burdens to your already overwhelming load. Plus, the interest, which can be excessive, is money that could be spent elsewhere.
Fund Your Retirement Plan
Does your retirement plan offer a company matching contribution? If it does, make sure you contribute up to the company match amount. Any less and you’ll be leaving money on the table. While the plan may offer loan or withdrawal features, try to avoid them at all costs. Withdrawing money from your account before retirement, even if you plan to pay it back, sacrifices tax-deferred growth potential. More importantly, it may leave you financially unprepared when you reach your retirement years.
You’re All in this Together
Managing your children and your parents’ needs, emotionally and financially, can be challenging. Save more carefully and keep the focus on your retirement. If you do these things, you’ll be better prepared for life’s uncertainty and still protect your future. You’ll need to set new expectations and create more open lines of communication. The entire family will benefit from a plan that is designed specifically to meet the challenges of the sandwich generation.