Are you part of the sandwich generation? Unfortunately, this question isn’t about who really loves a good pastrami sandwich on dark rye. The sandwich generation refers to those middle-aged adults who are caught between caregiving for their children and aging parents.
Being a mom while caring for your own mom presents emotional, logistical, and financial challenges. The good news is that careful attention to the financial side of things can help you with the first two challenges.
If you’re not in this situation currently but you have kids and your parents or in-laws are still alive, there’s a not-insignificant chance you may find yourself dealing with this at some point, so planning ahead is a good idea.
This may seem like a strange first action item in an article about taking care of your parents and your children, but just because other people have important needs doesn’t mean you should abandon your own.
For your children, in particular, being financially responsible and funding your retirement can help ensure that they don’t someday feel the sandwich pressure themselves. You should also take steps to get other elements of your finances in order, including building up your emergency savings and paying down debt.
If you’ve got student loan debt, NaviRefi student loan refinancing may help you find a payment plan with terms that suit you better. Finally, be sure that you assess all your financial needs and have a good big-picture view of your own money situation. It’s only with this knowledge in place that you can move on to help others.
Assessing Others’ Needs
What do your kids need from you, and what do your parents need? The degree of obligation you have or feel you have toward your children will vary a great deal if they are minors or adults that you’re still supporting.
Your six-year-old or 16-year-old shouldn’t be worrying about financial matters; however, if your children are adults and you’re still providing support, you may want to start talking to them about your need to stop footing the bill for them now that they are grown and ways to be more independent.
If your minor children are planning to attend college, you should consider how they will pay for it. As for your parents, look over their finances and make sure that you fully understand them as well, including what their goals are.
In some cases, it may be necessary to get financial power of attorney or take other steps that will allow you to manage your money. In other cases, they may be perfectly capable of doing this but might need some additional help with organization, automating bill pay, or other issues.
Throwing Money at Problems
One reason that having a good grasp of finances is so important is that money can solve some of the issues that arise in these situations. If your parents’ finances are in good shape, it might be possible for them to hire someone. They can provide some of the help that you might otherwise have to do, such as cleaning the house or grocery shopping.
This can free you up to be more present in the tasks where you do want to be the person responsible, such as taking them to medical appointments or spending quality time with them.
If they can afford it, your parents may also benefit from moving to an assisted living community. This can help get elderly parents out of the house more often as these communities often organize activities and outings for their residents.
One of the things that make juggling the needs of your children and parents so difficult is that you may also be working either part-time or full-time. This is another area where having some extra money can be invaluable since you can use it to pay for daycare or a nanny to help you better balance the demands of work, parenthood, and caring for your own parents.
Income and Asset Protection
One thing to think about for both you and your parents is how you can protect your assets as well as theirs. This might start with taking out life insurance yourself so that there will be money to support your children if anything happens to you.
You may also want to consider purchasing long-term disability insurance for yourself and for your parents although how feasible this is will depend on their age, their health, and potentially other conditions as well. Make sure that you understand whether they might be affected by spending-down regulations in your state.