The Aging Sandwich Generation: Where to Find the Finances You Need to Retire

Written by Olivia Bailey

Finding yourself in a situation where you need to take care of your parents while looking after your own family at the same time can be a real body blow to your finances. Without careful planning and some good fortune the consequences to your future can be worrisome. You might feel you need to put your retirement plans on hold while under such budgetary strain, but there are ways to balance the books and keep your goals on track.

Here are some suggestions to organize your finances to cope with immediate financial pressures and plan for current and future expenses. Consider this an overview of some of the financial challenges you might face and some tips on ways to find the cash you need now and in the future.

Plan ahead to stay ahead

The odds are in your favor you will live to an older age than previous generations, which is great news in one respect, but presents a financial challenge when you try to plan your finances to have enough money to live out your golden years in comfort.

Add in the additional complication of looking after one or both of your parents who are over 65 along with the financial support you need to provide for your children and you can see why this scenario makes saving for your own retirement seem like a bridge too far for your finances.

There is no question that you want to provide support for your parents and children when they need it. The trick is to organize your finances so your own future prosperity and comfort is not thrown into question.

When it’s time to pool your resources

If you find you need to provide for your elderly parents, both emotionally and financially, the subject is not open to debate for most of us who assume that degree of responsibility without a second thought.

The financial consequences of such commitment can be significant. Your own financial situation can quickly deteriorate unless you find a way to pool your resources to reach a solution that provides the help they need and makes the most of the money available in the family pot.

Attitudes towards money have changed in recent generations but elders often have an ingrained reluctance to discuss their finances even with their children. However, it makes a lot of sense to try and overcome this barrier by addressing key issues like estate planning, medical insurance, current income and expenses, and any other relevant finances to gain an accurate insight into their financial position and future financial security.

Perhaps you can find a way to persuade them to downsize from their existing property, for example, to something more suitable and cheaper. This could help ease their own financial burdens and in turn relieve the pressure on you.

Explain to your elderly parents the value of an in-depth look at their finances. A thorough review could be beneficial and may result in a greater annual income than they currently enjoy, which would reduce the burden on your finances at the same time.

It is always a good idea to explore all the possibilities and options as part of the potential solution that could help everyone. It could even lead to a situation where you pool your resources and combine your finances to provide a way forward that works for everyone.

Getting them through college

College is a major financial event for parents. If you are struggling to find money to meet all those college expenses, there are some options to assist with your efforts. You can find a college near home where they can go so they don’t have to move out and you won’t have board and living expenses.

Don’t forget to check what financial aid you might be entitled to or whether your child might be able to get a scholarship.

It is a challenge to get young adults through college without racking up huge debts. But if you can plan and prepare and somehow stay on top of things you will have negotiated one major financial hurdle without putting too much of a dent in your retirement plans.

Lower your monthly commitments

If you are paying off several credit card debts each month as well as loan repayments, it might be worth looking at consolidation as a way of making your debts more manageable. It could make sense to find out before you apply whether this solution could work for you.

Sit down and work out your current monthly budget to see where your money is going each month. Find where you can cut back on some outgoings that could then go towards your retirement plans.

Putting your feet up might seem a distant dream at certain times when your finances are under so much pressure, but you can and will find a way to see it through and enjoy your own retirement at some point.

Olivia Bailey writes about a range of personal finance matters in her online articles. When not typing up a new article she’s busy with everyday family life, raising 3 kids and keeping home for a hubby.

Do It While You Can

No one knows how long they will remain physically or mentally able to enjoy what life has to offer. The reality of aging is things get harder rather than easier as the years pass. Activities we took for granted just a few decades ago may suddenly become too difficult to undertake. No one wants to spend their second act looking in the rear view mirror at what was. We want to look forward to what will be.

Glenn Frey of the Eagles said, “People don’t run out of dreams; people run out of time.” Think of all those plans you hope to embrace once you leave work behind to focus 100 percent on retirement. Free time is a blessing. Freedom to do what you want when you want is what retired life is all about. Once you arrive the trick is to not let the moments pass you by without making an impact, without grabbing for all you can.

My folks have been retired about 20 years. They have pretty much given up on long distance travel. Hassles of airports and security lines, rental cars and navigating unfamiliar surroundings is to the point they just don’t want to do it anymore. But before that they were traveling machines. They wandered Europe in a VW bug while my dad was stationed in Germany. They made regular car trips across the US in search of historic sites and memorable monuments. Mom and dad truly traveled, loved it, have collected many great memories, and are now content with staying closer to home. The point is they did it while they could.

A month ago my dad had a stroke. He is 85 and had been struggling a bit over the past year with his balance and a slight slur when he talks. The stroke was severe impacting his speech and leaving him paralyzed on his left side. After three weeks of intensive rehabilitation he is improving and we are moving him home. But once home, mom will require 24/7 help to assist with day to day living for how long yet to be determined. Dad is improving – we can understand what he says and he is getting stronger. But how far will he recover? No one knows.

You don’t always have to wait for retirement. I know it’s hard to set aside time when living an incredibly busy life but how rewarding it can be to explore your passions before you retire. Younger with more stamina and no sore knees you can truly enjoy the moments to their maximum. Your eyesight is as good as it will ever be. You may feel a bit tired at days end but you have the will to press on – mind over matter is still possible. Although you cannot do all those things you hope before your second act delaying everything is a risk. You never know where you will be or in what shape in 10 or more years.

Most of my family is big believers in walking, hiking and generally getting out into nature. My wife and I deliberately chose a retirement area with an abundance of state and national parks packed with enough winding trails and hidden vistas to keep us busy for years. My favorite aunt at age 75 traipses around the world on tours and trips that inevitable involve navigating many miles on foot each day. And don’t get me started about my Swiss family. They can walk me into the ground while easily hiking seemingly vertical paths leading to hidden lakes and secluded restaurants only accessible on foot (or helicopter). We are generally in the same age group and love hitting the trail. And we realize we may not be so fortunate to be as mobile as my aunt when we reach her age so we do it now while we still can.

Having reached retirement age or thereabouts most of us realize we are not in control of as much as we would like to be. So much is beyond our sway if we hope to make good on our second act we must remain opportunistic. Don’t let possible good times pass us by. Stop thinking about it and instead do it. Get going while the going is good. I know I cannot change the past. And I don’t know exactly what the future has in store. But I am here today, now, in this moment. It is up to me to make the most of this moment while I am still ready and willing and able.

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