The Sandwich Generation
If you are supporting both your children and aging parents, you are a member of the “sandwich generation” and are likely feeling some financial impacts. In September of this year, a survey was conducted by Credit Canada, one of the largest not for profit credit counselling services in the country, and Capital One. The key findings aren’t surprising, but they can prompt you to rethink your financial planning and parent/child relationships.
The survey noted that romance is negatively impacted for couples supporting an aging parent. Stress about finances is a great romance killer, as is the constant presence of a parent. I think that couples in these circumstances need to carve out time for themselves and make a conscious effort to connect at a romantic level. It’s far too easy to let the day to day issues related to being a caregiver take precedence over time for each other.
An interesting finding of the survey is that the majority of Canadians (54%) in the Sandwich generation are embarrassed to talk to their parents about their finances. Discussing a parent’s means to support themselves in the future is vital to knowing what to expect as your parent grows older and perhaps more dependent upon you. You may need to plan for assisting with their care financially, or you may need to be exploring what kinds of programs and supports will be available for your parent in the future.
Not surprisingly, the survey found that 82% of Canadians within the sandwich generation are not prepared to support aging parents if the need arises. This statistic is slightly higher than the percentage of Canadians that are financially unprepared for retirement. Adding to the list of stressors is the fact that the same group of people are also concerned about financing their children’s education. The pressure is mounting for the sandwich generation to do more and more with no real increase in income.
So where does this leave this over stressed generation? The survey found that this group makes more personal sacrifices and goes into greater debt to address conflicting needs. Further, projected retirement dates are later and later than anticipated, and overtime is the new way of life. Savings are dwindling and lifestyles are changing as the need to care for both your children and your parents wreaks havoc with your budget.
Are you prepared to face the pressures of the sandwich generation? What have you done to prepare for this eventuality? Let me know how you have been coping. I’d love to hear from you.