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5 Financial Tips for Surviving the Sandwich Generation

If you’re a part of the Sandwich Generation, you’re probably feeling pulled in several different directions at once–both literally and financially.  The sandwich generation is a growing group of adults simultaneously caring for their children and aging parents. While most are in their 40s and 50s, millennials make up 25% of caretakers supporting at least one parent.

Combining the demands of work, errands, raising your growing children, and providing care for an aging parent can quickly become stressful. You’re likely facing financial burdens you didn’t plan for and retirement age is looming. Navigating the financial responsibilities of multiple generations isn’t easy, but with the right opportunities, it can be accomplished.

Unique Financial Challenges Faced by the Sandwich Generation

While the idea of the sandwich generation isn’t a new concept, the growing number of families facing this situation makes it hard to ignore. As technology and healthcare consistently make advances, human lifespans are growing. More couples over age 50 are divorced than ever before, and aging or disabled parents without a spouse are left to depend on their children for support. Meanwhile, many adult children return home after college and continue to depend on these parents for financial support. Today’s sandwich generation is facing a variety of unique challenges that limit their financial goals.

  • They’re often from small families without siblings to share the responsibilities of parental care.
  • Many of these caregivers are single parents.
  • Couples are often waiting longer to have children and have young children during their 40s and 50s.
  • Housing costs are forcing adult children to return to their parents’ home after college, or even while raising children of their own.

5 Financial Tips to Help Each Member of Your Family Survive the Sandwich Generation

When you’re in the position to be responsible for multiple generations of your family, it feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. However, all of the responsibility shouldn’t be designated to one person. There are a variety of ways to remove some of the weight and even find the financial assistance you need to help your family members help themselves.

1. Think Outside the Box for College Costs

Sadly, many parents feel forced to take the all-or-nothing approach when it comes to paying for college. Planning early can help you find a variety of ways to cover the costs. Grants, scholarships, and loans are available to help pay for a college education but there are no loans to assist you through retirement. Consider these ideas to whittle away college costs.

  • Financial assistance
  • Loans
  • Grants
  • Trade schools
  • Early college programs provided free by public high schools
  • Two-year college programs

2. Ask for Help

It’s common to feel like you should take care of all the responsibilities you’re facing or asking for help will burden others. If you have siblings who aren’t in a situation to take care of the bulk of the obligations, they may be eager to help in other ways. Siblings who live far away may be able to help pay for part-time care, host parents for a vacation, or contribute to a fund for long term care.

3. Put Health First

Staying in good health should always be a priority, but when everyone depends on you, it’s even more crucial. Encouraging your entire family to participate in good health practices improves stress levels and saves money. There’s no doubt you have a full to-do list, but making exercise a priority the whole family can enjoy provides multiple benefits. Cooking healthy meals at home can help build your family’s immune systems and save money compared to eating out.

Although you’re trying to pinch pennies in every area you can, now isn’t the time to neglect health and disability insurance. An illness or injury that puts you out of work for a significant amount of time could be a disaster without the right coverage. The costs of a significant medical event for any member of your family can quickly surpass the costs of monthly health insurance premiums.

4. Make Retirement a Priority

No matter how tight your finances are getting, it’s important not to skip contributing to your own retirement account. You can’t count on loans, assistance, or even current government programs to provide these funds in the future. If you neglect your own financial responsibilities, you’ll likely pass along the same burdens to your children. Consider these options to help ease financial burdens.

  • Get a clear understanding of your parents’ finances, assets, and eligibility for assistance programs like Medicaid.
  • Invest in a Roth IRA since this type of retirement plan allows cash free withdrawals.
  • Stay vigilant about scams targeting seniors.
  • Use a 529 plan to save for your child’s education.

5. Plan for Long Term Care

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone who is 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services in their remaining years. Preparing for this potential reality will help make the transition easier if it becomes a necessity. Begin by having a conversation with your parents about their own financial situation. Determine whether your parents have income sources like retirement, social security, or investment annuities. Your parents’ assets might take care of a significant portion of the costs of a long-term facility.

Consider the benefits of long term care insurance. Typical health insurance policies and even Medicaid don’t pay for the costs related to a long term care facility. Determining whether your parents need this coverage will include certain factors like their age, the cost of coverage, available finances, and the types of benefits you require.

No matter how careful you are with your finances, money can get tight exactly when you need it the most. Sometimes, you need an extra hand to make ends meet. Koster’s is there to take care of the necessities when you can’t take care of everything on your own. Our loans are hassle free, provide you with a flexible payment schedule, and offer discounts for early pay-off.

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