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How to Avoid Getting Financially Squeezed in the Sandwich Generation

Insurance Retirement Funding

Are you a part of the sandwich generation? Not sure what that even means? The sandwich generation is defined as people usually in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who have children to take care of but also hold the responsibility of looking after their aging parents as well. A lot of mid-grade and senior military officers are in this situation and it’s a complicated situation to be in. To qualify to be a part of the sandwich generation, you need to have a parent older than 65 and children younger than 18-years-old or currently in college.

In regards to elderly parents, the "care" part of this balancing act can be financial, as well as, managing their lifestyle, or even the facilitation of their medical care. Right now this  geared towards a lot of senior officers and some of the more senior mid-grade/field officers who might be considered a part of this “sandwich generation.”

If you have financial responsibilities towards your family and your aging parents, it can feel completely overwhelming. You may feel squeezed into taking care of just about everyone in your life. Here are a few ways to avoid getting financially squeezed when you are a part of the difficult spot in being one of the sandwich generations. This information can be valuable to many since the Pew Research Center estimates that 47 percent of adults are in this lifestyle predicament.1

Lean on Siblings 

Sometimes people feel like they need to shoulder all of the responsibility in caring for elderly parents. They might be the oldest in their family and are generally the ones everyone else looks toward in taking care of family matters, including mom or dad’s care. If this sounds like you and you have siblings that might be able to help out more, it’s time to ask for their assistance. Unless you’ve specifically been told, “you’re on your own” by your brothers and sisters, they might just be waiting for you to divide up some of the duties, financial or otherwise.

Keep Your Own Financial Goals in Mind

You want to ensure you do not blow through whatever savings you might have, which is very easy to do with kids in college, or parents that need assisted care. Keeping your own financial goals in mind is important. Try not to dip into your retirement savings either (this includes loans from TSP that can become a time bomb when you retire or separate from service) because then you’re just setting your own children up to have to stress about your care later in life. It’s a vicious cycle.

Set Limits With College Age and Grown Children 

This is the toughest one to dish out advice-wise. Your babies are your babies and they will always be your babies, to a point. But those adult children who are either in college or freshly out of college might need you to set limits on what you provide them, so they can learn to be self-sufficient adults. Always coming to their financial rescue can take its toll on your own finances and your life in general. Limits are necessary and will eventually allow your grown children to stand on their own two feet. Helping out in an emergency is one thing, but always coming to their aid with a handout is another.

Invest in a Long-Term Care Policy

This goes for your aging parents or for yourself if you are in your 50s. By waiting longer to secure this, the premiums will go up as you get older. Your parents are already there, but purchasing this for them might help you out financially when they get even older or become ill. Make sure you consider the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP), it might be a good option for you and is available to active-duty and retired military members.  No one likes to think about these things, but being best prepared will help you deal with their future care.

In the end, if you still need some ways to deal with caring for your family and your parents, talk to a financial advisor that can steer you in the right direction. Protecting yourself and allocating your assets correctly for everyone involved will make you feel like you are doing the right thing as part of the sandwich generation.

 

1 http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/01/30/the-sandwich-generation/#a-profile-of-the-sandwich-generation

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