The Sandwich Generation

Posted by on October 6, 2010 @ 9:02 am in Personal finance

Coming back from lunch in our cafeteria (in keeping with Vanguard’s nautical theme, we call it the Galley), I ran into a co-worker (crew member) I’ve known since I joined Vanguard 14 years ago.

After exchanging quick updates on work and our children, he mentioned that while his kids were at one end of the “care spectrum,” his aging parents were at the other—and were occupying a lot of both his and his wife’s time and financial resources. Heading back to my office, I wondered why more isn’t said about this in the financial planning media. It’s not an unknown challenge—there are books, websites, news articles, and even a “Sandwich Generation Month.”

Those of us over 50 are likely navigating through the competing demands of college expenses, saving for retirement, and the financial and emotional demands of serving as caregivers for our parents. They all go with the territory. And it’s important to factor the real possibility of elder care into our planning.

While we may have been on track to save enough for our retirement, we might not have factored in additional monthly outflows to help give our parents the care they need and make sure they’re residing where they want (or need) to be. This is part of the reason that your post-retirement expenses may not be much lower than they were before retirement. This life situation probably isn’t a surprise to you, but I’m not sure everyone fully appreciates the impact for our parents—or ourselves—until the situation presents itself.

Are you part of the Sandwich Generation? How are you planning for (or already managing) this challenging time?

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