Sandwich Generation 101: A Matter of Priorities


Written by: Jon McGraw

Rick and Audrey face several more years of college tuition assistance for their two daughters, one still in high school, the other headed for graduate school. Paying for college is manageable on the income and bonuses Rick and Audrey earn. One area they haven’t fully addressed is making sure they max out their allowable 401(k) contributions in addition to fully funding their IRAs. They plan to step up 401(k) contributions once their elder daughter finishes grad school.

Their concern is that cash flow demand may not let up when the younger daughter graduates. Rick’s mother, recently widowed, is currently trying to get her hands around her finances, a task her husband had always handled. Audrey’s parents are both in good health and have begun looking at senior lifestyle communities with an eye toward selling their home and moving in the next few years.

As we met with Rick and Audrey, it was clear they were dealing with a couple unknowns that were affecting their plans. First, they – or the Buttonwood Team – needed to help Rick’s mother assemble all her financial documents to determine what sort of budgeting was necessary, and to possibly update any current estate planning. Second, they should figure out how to fully fund their 401(k)s by making modest cutbacks in other areas. Since both daughters worked part time, they might be able to pick up some of their education expenses, reducing the load on their parents. Finally, although it hadn’t been discussed previously, we recommended that Rick’s mother and Audrey’s parents investigate Long Term Care Insurance as a possible means to ensure its availability should there come a time when it was needed.

If you would like to discuss how your membership in the “sandwich generation” affects you, contact John Jespersen to set a strategy appointment at 816-285-9000 or by clicking HERE.

Facts about the Sandwich Generation

  • According to the Pew Research Center, 1 out of every 8 Americans age 40 to 60 is raising a child and caring for a parent. And those numbers are only expected to rise as our population ages.
  • Because of advances in life expectancy, more middle-age people have living parents. More than 70 percent of the baby boom generation (people born between 1946 and 1964) has at least one living parent
  • According to latest data from AARP, 40 percent to 70 percent of caregivers of older adults have clinically significant symptoms of depression. Family caregivers may also be at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. And elderly caregivers have a higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.

A Real Life Care Giving Example

Chris and Ann are among the millions of baby boomers caring for their aging parents. These siblings didn’t think twice about helping their parents–they figured it was the least they owed them. But they didn’t anticipate just how hard it would be. Watch their story.

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