The "baby boomers," Americans born between 1946 and 1966, are moving like a wave into their fifties and sixties. Unfortunately, many of them are facing new financial pressures. Their kids are likely to need help paying for increasingly expensive colleges. Their folks are getting older and living longer. Boomers are digging into their wallets to make up the shortfall in their parents' retirement income, and many are trying to help cover the costs of long-term care. On top of that, they're struggling to save for retirement and pay for the groceries. No wonder they feel squeezed.
If you're part of the "sandwich generation," take heart. Careful planning and a little diligence can help to alleviate some of this pressure.
First, you need to identify your priorities. How important to you are such things as setting aside funds for retirement, paying for your kids' schooling, and helping your parents with the cost of long-term care? Once you've identified your priorities, you can set realistic goals to address them, putting the bulk of your financial resources and energy toward meeting the most important goals first.
Retirement. Many people would like to retire at a relatively young age. But some may have to rethink that goal in light of other financial demands like college tuition and care for elderly parents. Working longer can have distinct benefits. Besides funding an accustomed lifestyle for a few more years, working longer and leaving your retirement accounts intact will give the funds more time to grow.
Education. Many families want to help finance the education of their children. Tuition, books, and other college costs can eat up tens of thousands of dollars. If your child is still young, it's a good idea to start saving early and invest for growth. If your child is ready to start college but isn't financially prepared, you might consider letting him or her finance a portion of the cost by working or obtaining loans. College-age kids have their working lives ahead of them. Their income, including their ability to repay loans, should increase.
Parents. For many in the sandwich generation, helping to pay for the high cost of a parent's long-term care is a priority. For example, a year in a nursing home can cost $30,000 to $50,000. At some point, your parents may need financial help to cope with such high expenses. In the meantime, you may be able to help them manage their finances and consider options such as long-term care insurance. You might want to meet with their banker, lawyer, and accountant to look over your parents' financial status and review legal papers, including such documents as power of attorney, wills, and trusts.
Feeling squeezed? Call if you wish a review of your situation.