Split between taking care of elderly parents and raising their children, the Sandwich Generation walks a tightrope of balancing finite money and time. In the wake of the recession, many of these people are working longer hours to pay for care, or fewer hours to provide care, which can make finding balance in their lives that much more challenging. Thankfully, for the hardworking people who strive to strike that balance, there are more than a few things you can try to help you achieve balance between all your care obligations.
The Sandwich Generation
Just how many people belong to the Sandwich Generation? Nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s have an aging parent or child who depends on them, and nearly one in seven provide support for both. As a result, one study by Northwestern Mutual Planning & Progress found about 20% of people in the 35-49 age group believe they’ll never have the opportunity to retire. Circumstances like these are only becoming more common as life expectancy continues to rise, and people continue to wait later in life to start their families.
Tips to Save
Parents tend to be good about anticipating the cost of having a child, but few people have the forethought to budget for the cost of caring for elderly parents. Paying for caregivers and medical expenses can get expensive quickly, but budgeting in advance can help. A good place to begin is to set limits on your spending, especially during the holiday season. If you have trouble remembering those limits, most banks can provide spending alerts to keep you apprised of how you’re doing each week.
Splitting Care Obligations
If you have siblings, try and coordinate with them regarding care obligations. It’s better to have a plan in place before the financial pressure of providing care begins, but better late than never. More often than not, the more people who can share in care responsibilities, the better off everyone involved will be. Caregivers who have less of a load on their shoulders are less prone to burnout, and more capable of providing excellent care for their loved ones.
Find a Balance
Finding balance in your life is important for anyone, but it’s critical for the Sandwich Generation. There are only so many hours in a day, so many digits in your bank account, and at the end of the day both need to add up to provide for you and your loved ones.
For people fortunate enough to work for a smaller company, finding this balance is often possible by taking advantage of more flexible hours to accommodate care obligations. Many people turn to working from home or telecommuting to help eliminate their commute to better manage their time between work and home life.
If you’re not financially-minded, it’s usually a good idea to sit down with an accountant or financial planner. This is particularly true for the countless people who think retirement is out of their reach. A financial advisor can help you see at what your retirement looks like if you put away small amounts on a regular basis, and help you get a better idea of how to save. While you’ll probably have to scale back on luxuries, you may find that with a little guidance, it’s possible to take care of both you and your family.