A growing number of individuals and couples are entering the ranks of the Sandwich Generation. What they have in common is that they are “caught in the middle” between the competing needs and wants of their dependent children and aging parents. In addition, they also need to prepare for their own retirement years and potential long-term care needs.
For example, most members of the Sandwich Generation value higher education and feel compelled to provide that opportunity for their children. Other “sandwichers” are pressed into service by providing financial resources to a divorcing adult child or helping to raise a grandchild. In addition, as life expectancy increases, parents are likely to survive well into their 90’s and require increasing assistance.
As a result, it is the middle generation that bears most of the responsibility for addressing the financial needs of both the younger and older generations. Unfortunately, the unintended result is that their own financial needs and wants are squished, squelched, and squeezed out.
As an alternative, think of ways to balance financial responsibilities across generations. Are their ways we can help our children and our parents without sabotaging our own long-term financial security and quality of life? There is no magic formula, but a proactive approach can improve communication, build financial resiliency, and nurture resourcefulness in all family members. Here are a few suggestions:
Start Early— The negative impact of major life transitions can be mitigated by planning ahead. Expenses like college tuition for kids and long-term care for mom and dad can be huge. Therefore, with the help of a trusted financial advisor, it is essential to research options and make preparations well in advance of important life events.
Expect Contribution & Cooperation— Involve both offspring and parents in planning and preparation for their future needs and wants. Ask and expect them to contribute what they can. For example, children can assume responsibility for a portion of their higher education expenses. In addition, encourage the older generation to think about their eventual needs and to plan ahead both financially and emotionally for their later years.
Encourage & Reward Resourcefulness— In an effort to demonstrate our love, we often do too much for our children and parents. The more we do for others that they can do for themselves, the more we undermine their autonomy. Instead, it is important to nurture a sense of self-confidence in those we love, for that is the very best gift in life that we can give.
Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP