First Person: Financial Setbacks for My ‘Sandwich Generation’

Yahoo Contributor Network

I sometimes think I'm part of the Sandwich Generation because we are so busy that sandwiches are the easiest and least expensive foods to grab. However, I'm also part of the Sandwich Generation that has financial worries related to my young adult children and aging parents. According to a new study by Pew, almost half of Generation X and younger Baby Boomers provide financial support to their adult children or their parent who is 65 or older. Although more people in the 40 to 59 age bracket are the most likely to have children and parents who need financial help, a lot of adults are struggling to help relatives.

Dealing with unemployment

I think youngest of the Baby Boomers and oldest of the Generation X have the toughest situation. Some of them have children who are in college or high school who can't find jobs and are amassing a lot of student loan debt. Meanwhile, workers over 50 have a hard time finding jobs after being laid off. According to the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, workers over 50 without jobs are called the "new unemployable." One of my neighbors lost his job in his early 50s. Fortunately, his wife has a good job because they have three children in college. Several years ago, they had their widowed mother living with them, but she has since remarried.

Navigating a multi-generational household

With so many older people struggling to make ends meet, it seems inevitable most middle-aged people will have to help out a senior citizen parent at some point. Sometimes the easiest solution is to combine households. My family of four lived with my father-in-law when we were saving up money to buy new home. We saved money by sharing the costs while our new construction home was being built. In turn, I'm sure we would be happy to have him stay with us if he hit a financial rough patch during his retirement.

Guarding our savings

Even though we are wiling to help our young adult children and older family members, we help out by sharing our home or food but not dipping into our emergency savings. My younger son decided to commute to college instead of going away to school. He may live at home until he lands his first job that pays health insurance and other benefits. One of my neighbors has a similar rule. She opened her home to her 25-year-old daughter who works full-time, but can't afford the high cost of rent. A retired person, my neighbor allows her daughter to eat whatever she wants, but draws the line at paying her credit card bills.

Even though it's challenging to be part of the so-called Sandwich Generation, I know that it's part of life. Even when the economy is better, there will be times when one family or another needs a financial boost. I'm hoping when the economy recovers, the younger generation will have more than enough money to support themselves and their families.

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