The pressures of being a women in today's world are higher than ever. Many women work outside of the home but are also still the primary care-giver for children AND aging parents (both their own parents and those of their spouses). This has created what is referred to as "The Sandwich Generation"- a generation of people (usually women) who find themselves trying to juggle a host of responsibilities for their entire family.
Life expectancy continues to go up, and many couples are waiting longer and longer to start a family. As a result, forty-seven percent of American adults are in The Sandwich Generation, and that number is expected to continue to rise. If you find yourself in The Sandwich Generation, one of the major responsibilities you may face is taking over your parents’ financial well-being. This can take a toll on your own finances, as well as your emotional health. To help you better understand how you can manage this load, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to help you better manage your money, your parents’ finances, and the stress associated with feeling stuck in the middle.
Take Care of Yourself
In order for you to take care of your children and parents, you have to first take care of yourself. Self-care is one of those concepts that "preaches better than it lives". It's really easy to talk about making sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and doing things that you enjoy. It's much harder to find the time for any of those things. But I believe that finding ways to reduce stress is one of the most important things I can do for my family. Here are three things that I have found have a huge impact on my mental well-being:
1. Spending Time Outside: This is harder during the winter months, but I make a big effort to spend some amount of time outside each day. When I don't do that, I definitely notice feelings of melancholy creeping in.
2. Getting Enough Sleep: For me, this means 8 hours. I know lots of people can function just fine with less. I am not one of them. This means sometimes choosing to go to bed instead of watching TV or reading a book. This also means sometimes letting my kids get themselves breakfast and start the day with a little screen time if that's going to allow me to sleep in a bit. Choose your battles.
3. Meditating: Meditation does not have to be some big, fancy event. It's about slowing down, breathing, and sitting in stillness for just a little while. I use an app called "BREATHE: Meditation and Sleep". The version has lots of good, guided meditations. They are short and easy and always help me to slow down a bit. They also have sleep stories and meditations for those nights when you can't get your brain to turn off. It's been a very helpful app for me.
Gather and Organize All Financial Documents
In order to formulate the best financial plan for you and your loved ones, collect everyone’s financial documents to help start the process of proper financial planning. Having your parents share their financial accounts with you can help ensure all their bills and taxes are up to date. This can be a tough transition with some difficult conversations. Parents are often resistant to letting their children have access to their finances. But when the time comes for you to take over some or all of the responsibility of managing their finances, the first thing you need is access to their financial accounts.
Don’t Forget Your Parents’ Role
Although you are responsible for your parents' money, remember that it still belongs to them. If they are still in good mental health, collaborating with them on financial decisions can help ease the burden you face. They’ve managed their own money for most of their lives and deserve involvement in the decision-making process. Your responsibility is to assist them in making good choices for as long as they are able.
Ask for Professional Help
Managing another person’s wealth is not an easy thing to handle. Working with a financial professional can help you with all aspects of your life, including retirement planning, education planning for your kids, and investing. Financial professionals can help you prepare the necessary documents for your parents and avoid costly mistakes.
If we can assist you as you manage finances for yourself, your parents, or your children, please give us a call. We are here to help.
As always, stay safe, stay healthy and stay the course.
Caregiver.org (2009) – [Caregiving page] https://www.caregiver.org/caregiving