If you’re feeling the strain of caring for your aging parents while trying to raise a family of your own, you’re not alone. Being part of a “Sandwich Generation” is something that hundreds of thousands of other people are going through as well. Facing the challenges of offering financial and emotional support to your parents while you’re trying to be there for your children is a lot to have on your plate. When you add work related concerns and your own financial planning matters, the situation becomes even more complicated.
However, if you’re part of the sandwich generation, there’s hope from financial advise. With the right planning and strategies you can ensure that you survive this demanding time in your life.
1. Get clear on your financial picture.
Before you can consider commitments to your parents and children, you need to understand your financial picture. Working with a financial advisor who specializes in mid-life transitions can help you assess where you are now and make safe and secure plans for the years to come. If you know your current situation you’ll be more capable of making the right decisions to prepare for college tuition, your own retirement and any support you may need to offer your parents.
2. Have a frank talk with your parents about their finances.
In order to avoid surprises you need to know how your parents are doing financially. Sitting down with them and discussing their plans if they become ill or unable to care for themselves can help you better prepare for the future and understand your responsibilities. If you find that it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, consider sitting in a neutral environment with an experienced financial advisor to go over the facts together.
3. Get all of the necessary legal documents in place well ahead of time.
Taking care of your aging parents may mean making decisions in their names, and this requires durable power of attorney. You may also need to have additional legal documents to ensure stability for you, your parents and your growing children. It’s a smart move to get financial advise and get these in order before they are needed. This way you won’t have to scramble around during a crisis and you can make sure you understand the details of the paperwork.
4. Hold family meetings to discuss your expectations.
This is especially important if you need to live in a multi-generational household. Communicating can help you avoid misunderstanding and can make sure that all members of your family, young and old, feel cared for and appreciated. During the family meetings make sure everyone has the chance to talk and express their needs.
5. Get the personal support that you need.
When you’re in the sandwich generation, your pressures are more than just financial. Expect to have a few emotional ups and downs as you’re working through the issues around your increased responsibilities. Be sure to get personal support so you can handle your increased stress. You can find help from a support group, a counselor or just spending time talking with a trusted friend.