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Reducing the Sandwich Generation’s Financial Burden

Published: December 8, 2022

Pew Research Center survey findings in 2021 show that 23% of Americans are part of the “sandwich generation”. As the senior population grows and younger adults struggle to gain financial independence, many middle-aged adults find themselves “sandwiched” between their children and parents. This generation is raising or providing financial support to their minor children while also providing care or assistance to aging parents. The sandwich generation faces unique financial stress.

The Financial Burden of the Sandwich Generation.

As a parent to a minor child and an elderly parent, you may find yourself caring for both. While you may not mind the responsibility, the financial strain can be a tremendous burden.

Caring for Children

As a parent, you are financially responsible for the well-being of your minor child. Common expenses include moving into a larger home to accommodate a growing family, daycare costs, extracurricular activities, enrichment programs, college savings, medical bills, and necessities that children require to thrive.

Caring for Senior Parents

As a caregiver to a senior parent, you are faced with other significant expenses, especially if your senior parent did not adequately plan for the anticipated cost of aging. Typical expenses that coincide with caring for a senior adult surround declining health or degenerative aging. Housing needs change as our parents require more assistance with daily care or around-the-clock services. In this case, the cost of assisted living or nursing home care may become your burden to carry. Medical treatments, hospital stays, and prescription drug costs can also come with a high price. Additionally, if a parent has not properly planned for retirement, they may be unable to afford basic hygiene, housing, and nutritional needs.

Time is Money

In addition to the direct financial stressors, time plays a significant role for the sandwich generation. Time is limited by parenting alone. Parents are juggling their careers while raising children. They may miss work to stay home with their sick children or tend to their individual needs. As a caregiver, time away from your career and other personal obligations will be increased. Some caregivers may find themselves leaving their careers entirely. This can greatly impact financial stability and even retirement plans of your own.

Tips for Easing the Financial Burden

Under the circumstances mentioned above, it may be tempting to sacrifice your financial stability. However, this sacrifice could have potentially devastating effects. Fortunately, there are better ways to cope with the financial burden of being part of the sandwich generation.

  • Scholarships. Before assuming the financial responsibility or college tuition, thoroughly research scholarships available for your child. 
  • Student loans. Most parents want to provide for their children’s education and don’t like the idea of student loans. However, the truth is that your child has much more time to pay off loans than you will to replenish your savings or retirement accounts. 
  • Multigenerational living. Young adult children may need financial help as they get on their feet. Instead of paying their bills, welcome them back into the house. This will allow them to save money without relying on your financial help. Additionally, you may also want to consider allowing your adult parent to move into the family house.
  • Downsizing. If assisted living or nursing home care is not necessary, it may be time to reassess where your parent is living. Downsizing them to a smaller home or “mother-in-law” suite can minimize expenses.
  • Government assistance. Look into any Medicare, Medicaid, available Veteran benefits, or other government assistance programs that your parent may qualify for, or find out if you can maximize what they are already receiving.
  • Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to ask other family members to help with transportation or appointments that may affect your ability to work.
  • Set boundaries. Communicating clear boundaries and limitations of the financial support you can provide is one of the most important aspects of your responsibility. It is imperative that you don’t sacrifice your own financial stability due to your circumstancesSetting boundaries and effectively communicating will allow family members to understand limitations and work toward a similar goal together. 

Planning for the future is imperative if you are part of the sandwich generation and is most effective when under the guidance of an elder law attorney. Our elder attorneys are experienced and happy to help you minimize the financial burdens due to your unique situation. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

CLIENT Testimonial

Our family had the good fortune to find Scott Bloom.  He was invaluable helping us set up our trust. We had an unexpected health crises and realized that we had nothing in place to protect our children.  Scott explained our options and got the necessary paperwork ready for us to hand to our family, accountant and banks. Scott was absolutely the right attorney at the right time for us. We would highly recommend him and his team.
- Tricia B., Hamilton, New Jersey

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This question is asked all the time: “Wouldn't it be easier to get a will off the internet, transfer my land when I die, and put my children on my bank account?” It’s just not a good idea. For the plan to work as you would want it to, it should account for plenty of complications. A good plan should protect your spouse and your children from the loss of valuable government benefits if anybody is or becomes disabled. The plan should avoid the delay and expense of probate court. The plan should protect money from children’s creditors or divorce or remarriage. It should be crafted to serve family harmony and to avoid disputes between children as joint owners. Even a relatively simple situation is made up of many moving parts. Internet documents and joint-ownership devices just won’t do the job.

Also, assembling the moving parts so they work smoothly is just the first step. Your estate plan needs maintenance too, just like your car has a “check engine” light. Major family events like serious illness or death, marriage, birth, or financial reversals are alerts that you should tune up your plan to reflect those changes. Your plan shouldn’t be “one and done.”

It takes expertise to coordinate the various strategies available. Don’t risk a result that will cause your family problems and unnecessary expense. Call us to create a plan that harmonizes the moving parts, so the gears will work together and you will leave the legacy you intended. We hope you found this article helpful. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Creating an Estate Plan On Your Own: Think Twice