The Sandwich Generation Squeeze: Just BreatheInsights
Oh, I'm a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
As the 4th of July holiday arrives, many families will be coming together to celebrate. Three generations together again, many for the first time in a long time. July 4th has always been a time to celebrate our independence and our uniqueness as Americans. For me, the holiday also conjures up vivid memories of my childhood and own extended family coming together for an idyllic patriotic cookout and, of course, the great anticipation of fireworks! As I have grown older, the 4th has also found me reflecting on our national treasure, Willie Nelson. For those that don't know, Willie has held a often raucous July 4th picnic for charity almost every year since 1973. While 2020 saw a virtual event and 2021 will not feature a picnic, it will witness the legend returning to the road with an extensive schedule of live shows.
Some folks just have one Yeah, others they got none
Stay with me
Let's just breathE
Long before the pandemic arrived those in their 40s and 50s who were raising children while caring for aging parents - often called the “sandwich generation” - faced a difficult task. However, the challenges inherent in caregiving and parenting have only increased during the pandemic, leaving many to search for a way to avoid the "squeeze" of being sandwiched between two generations they care deeply about.
For those who are "sandwiched," gathering information about your parents' financial needs and wishes can seem daunting. But knowing what their retirement plans may entail can help you both navigate the years ahead with less financial and emotional stress. It's also important that you have a full accounting of the financial resources your parents have at their disposal. It can be tempting to forgo the assistance of a financial professional at this stage in the process, but this is actually one of the best times to seek professional advice. An experienced advisor can help you map out a strategy for the coming years, thanks in large part to their experience and retirement planning knowledge.
It can be very difficult for older generations to have an open conversation about their financial health. Still, the more they share about their finances, the better prepared everyone will be for the years to come.
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't, I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
Establishing a comprehensive estate plan can seem like an overwhelming task but by aligning yourself with a proper financial planner you can ensure that yours and your parents' medical, financial and legal directives are accounted for and aligned rather than being sought and hastily pulled together at a time of crisis. Think of the Power of Attorney as a sort of living will that is often used when confronted with medical issues or emergencies. This differs from a traditional will, which designates the eventual disbursement of assets. Conversations around these topics can be uncomfortable, but speaking with parents about these documents can often open the door for a more frank discussion of finances as well.
I wonder everyday
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Developing a proper asset allocation including a rainy day or emergency fund is also a great way to help mitigate the "squeeze." Although this isn't a new concept by any means, creating and growing your emergency savings and dollar cost averaging into your investments can help pay for a number of your priorities over time in a systematic and proactive way.
There's no way to know exactly what the future will bring for you, your children and your parents. Having a backup fund like this can help with everything from mitigating stress to enabling you to take time off from work if needed. The key is establishing your plan before you need it.
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me 'til I die
Meet you on the other side
Finally, it’s important that you stay aware of the mental and emotional and financial toll being a caretaker may have on you and your family. A 2020 study by the Aspen Institute entitled The True Cost of Caregiving highlights the potential real cost of care that sandwich generation Americans must understand. Taking the time you need for your own well being can feel selfish sometimes but is absolutely crucial when caring for others. Additionally, it may be helpful to think of your financial and legal professionals as a means to mitigate further stress. After all, having a strategy in place and knowing what comes next can be one of the most helpful parts of working with experts in these fields.
Authored by: Rob Armstrong
Songwriters: Eddie Vedder
Just Breathe lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Willie and Lukas Nelson Just Breathe (Music Video)