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Are You the Meat of the Financial Sandwich? (Part 2)

Article

Many Baby Boomers and those in the generation immediately following them will be joining a club called "the sandwich generation," which is characterized by caring, in part, financially, for both their own children and their aging parents. Here, we'll look at three aspects that may not spring immediately to mind, but could play a large role in your success in navigating these difficult waters.

Sandwiches

Many Baby Boomers and those in the generation immediately following them will be joining a club called “the sandwich generation,” which is characterized by caring, in part, financially, for both their own children and their aging parents. In

, we looked at communications needs and maximizing income and participation from all involved. Here, we’ll look at three other aspects that may not spring immediately to mind, but could play a large role in your success in navigating these difficult waters.

Part 1 of this series

Make Sure Everyone Is Insured

If you’re not yet the meat of the sandwich, but you can see yourself being there someday soon, talk with your parents about their financial security and their contingency plans. Ask if they have life insurance, health insurance, long-term care insurance, and a source of guaranteed income. This may be a natural discussion or may seem out of character, depending on your family dynamics, but these conversations are essential if you have any hope of creating a financial plan that will work under most scenarios.

While you’re on the topic, find out if your parents have a will or an estate plan. Though they may not have to go into specifics, it will give you peace of mind to know that they’re thinking ahead. If one or more of your parents are in precarious health now or may be in the very near future, you’ll want to ask about a durable power of attorney and perhaps a healthcare proxy—documents that will officially give you some authority should your parents be incapable of making financial or healthcare decisions.

Make Sure Your Spouse Is Part of Your Plan

This is a really big one, folks. It doesn’t matter if you handle all the financial matters for your household if your spouse does—make sure you’re both on the same page about how financial challenges will be met. Surveys and studies repeatedly show that the biggest negative in most marriages is financial stress. Part of managing that stress is communicating well with your life partner. Talk through your concerns, get some feedback, and establish a plan together. This communication may not solve all of the challenges that come from being the breadwinner for multiple generations, but I can assure you that NOT having this communication will make every part of this process more difficult.

Make Sure Your Plan Includes...You

Taking care of yourself can seem like a low priority when you’re raising children and caring for aging parents. But it’s important to stay healthy, take care of yourself, and adhere to your own financial goals even when it can seem difficult. Put it this way: failing to secure your own retirement because you were caring for the rest of your family means that in a few short years, your children will be the meat of the sandwich—a bad outcome for all.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice