Do you fall in the sandwich generation? Because of the COVID pandemic, you might!
The sandwich generation is a demographic of adults who are essentially “sandwiched” between caring for aging parents while raising children. This unique position can present tricky arrangements both emotionally and financially.
At Global View, we help clients who find themselves in this unique predicament balance their financial responsibilities while protecting their own plans for the future. Following the pandemic, we’re seeing more and more people struggle with these issues, as many adult children moved back in with their parents because of related school closures, job loss and other hardships, and many aging parents are needing care.
The sandwich generation can be a difficult place to be, with added challenges to the average working professional.
We offer the following 5 tips that can help you grow your wealth and stay financially fit while caring for your family members. If you have a concern that is not addressed here, contact us! Global View Investment Advisors is a fee-only, fiduciary financial advisory firm headquartered in Greenville, SC that serves investors nationwide. Our mission is to be our client’s advocate. We provide truly independent, conflict-free advice and complete wealth management services, so you can protect and maximize the wealth you’ve built, regardless of what life has in store for you.
Every generation has its own unique concerns, but folks in the sandwich generation have challenges on multiple fronts, not just the traditional fronts that others have.
Parents stuck in this position have to contend with juggling costs, at least three different sets of financial priorities (school, retirement and healthcare) and the emotional toll that these and other challenges create. To make matters more complicated, reports show that 75 percent of investors take on the difficult task of managing their finances alone.
If you find yourself in the sandwich generation, here are 5 tips that can help:
Tip #1: Get Help!
A financial advisor can add good news to the equation. Establishing a relationship with a financial advisor can help manage all of the planning, little details and implementation of a fully comprehensive financial plan. A fiduciary financial advisor can help you flesh out your financial needs and the needs of your other family members, and suggest strategies that work for you specifically.
By having a fully functioning and professionally made financial plan, you can spend significantly less time worrying about and managing your finances, and more time focusing on your other priorities. If nothing else, a financial advisor can provide you with the peace of mind that you are covered on the financial front, giving you more time to handle other concerns, like schooling from home and arranging doctor visits.
Tip #2: Saving for Education
With the rising costs of private high schools, colleges and universities, paying for your children’s education can be difficult. If you are also caring for your parents, juggling all of these costs can seem insurmountable. One of the best shots you can give yourself to cover your future education costs is to start saving early.
The cost of college has increased 3 percent historically on average, and has increased by more than 25 percent in the last 10 years alone. To save for education these days, it’s important to have a plan. Starting early and using special account types designed for education can give you a big boost.
One of these accounts, a 529 account, is a popular, tax-advantaged investment vehicle that can be started at any age, as long as your child has a Social Security number. When you open a 529 account, you can choose from a number of different strategies that will be implemented for you thereafter. No matter how much the account grows from deposits or investment returns, the money can be withdrawn tax-free, as long as the funds are used for qualified education expenses like tuition or dedicated school supplies.
Furthermore, these expenses aren’t just for college. Funds in a 529 account can be used for elementary school and high-school expenses, too, making these accounts useful for children at any age. Having a plan for education resolves a major financial challenge when having children.
For other ways to help pay for schooling, read our recent blog post: South Carolina State Scholarships: How to Provide a Worry Free Education.
Tip #3: Discuss Estate Planning with Your Parents
Even if you have a great relationship with your folks, discussing their estate planning needs can get awkward. As much difficulty as this conversation can present, it’s vitally important to you and your parent’s financial health to have it.
Without an estate plan, your parents have no control over their medical care if they become incapacitated, and little control over how assets will be split or used when they pass. Their assets will have to go through probate to determine how they’ll be distributed to family members, resulting in court fees, appraisal costs and the like; all draining the value of their estate in the process. Inheritance taxes can make this even more costly.
Estate plan discussions are a must-have that can protect your loved ones and dramatically preserve family morale in the long-run.
COVID-19 might be a useful conversation starter.
Initiating the conversation may seem like the most difficult part. But perhaps the current pandemic can make the conversation more understandable. Start by asking your parents what you should do to properly protect your children if something were to happen to you. This can be the perfect starting point to ask what their wishes are for their own estate.
For more help with estate planning, take a look at our new guide: Estate Planning in the Carolinas.
Tip #4: Create Boundaries and Rules for Children (Young or Adult)
You aren’t the only one who may need to adjust to multiple generations in one household. This may not be easy for your parents or your children, either. One simple remedy is to establish rules, boundaries or any family agreements, so everyone is on the same page. Depending on your child’s age, needs and personality, setting boundaries can be a great way to manage things without needing to police their every behavior.
If you have relatively differing schedules, perhaps establishing a consistent time for dinner or curfew can be helpful. This will give your children a reasonable amount of freedom in which they can fill their time, while also respecting your wishes and benefitting from family time.
Have a discussion with your child, whether they’re children or adults. What are your non-negotiables? If need be, how can you be more flexible with their needs and habits? You probably have a million things on your plate from your family life, work life and everything in between, so maintaining a solid amount of peace with your children through family rules and agreements will go a long way.
Tip #5: Make Sure Your Financial Needs are First Priority
Last, but not least, is you. Your financial health should be your top priority. Debt management, emergency savings and reaching your long-term financial goals like retirement cannot be overlooked.
If your finances diminish, or if your financial situation suffers, so too will your parents and children. Of course, your parents and children may require constant attention, but this does not mean to let your personal finances fall by the wayside.
An easy way to make sure your finances are consistently in order is to lean on your financial advisor. Your financial advisor can structure your full portfolio, monthly budget and savings so they are all in alignment with your specific goals. On top of that, your financial advisor can implement your portfolio and account setup for you, and handle all of the heavy lifting of ongoing portfolio management.
Tensions may understandably be high for those in the sandwich generation. But by working with a financial advisor and following the tips we provided here, you have a better shot of taking care of both the older and younger generations in your family successfully