AWTGE0 Woman in foreground, elderly woman and girl in background, portrait Sandwich generation granddaughter; daughter; grandmot
If you're part of the sandwich generation -- responsible for care of both your aging parents and your own children -- then you know how tough those demands can be on your time and money. Even if you aren't tasked with these responsibilities now, that could be your destiny.

While it's wonderful to be a part of a close-knit family willing to take care of one another, there's no denying the burden that puts on those in the middle of that generational sandwich.

If you want to break free from that cycle so that you don't become a burden on your own children as you age, it takes planning and perseverance. But it can be done.

What Will It Take?

Genworth (GNW) runs an annual survey that estimates the average cost of caring for an aging family member. The 2014 results:

Service Average cost Average monthly cost (*)
Homemaker $19/hour $1,140
Home health aide $20/hour $1,200
Adult day care $65/hour $3,900
Assisted living $3,500/month $3,500
Nursing home (semi-private) $212/day $6,360
Nursing home (private) $240/day $7,200
(*) Assumes 30 days/month and 2 hours/day of hourly charged services

The average retiree's Social Security check -- $1,300 per month -- isn't enough to cover a basic lifestyle and in-home help. If you want to age gracefully without becoming a financial burden on your children, you need enough of a nest egg to cover those costs on your own.

Strategies for Easing Future Financial Burdens

Depending on where you are in your life -- and on who's depending on you -- there are several routes to shore up your own nest egg. The key is cost control on all sides and for all generations.
  • Caring for your parents may involve difficult decisions on where they live. Should they sell the family's long-time home and downsize to a smaller, lower-total-cost residence? Or should you combine households? The total costs for you would likely be far lower than supporting two separate households, though personal stresses from that arrangement may outweigh financial benefits. You should see if lower-cost generics or older medicines could help their conditions as well as the newest, most expensive ones.
  • Caring for your kids involves serious prioritizing expenses. The largest likely potential cost is college, and the traditional four-years-in-a-dorm experience is not the only way to get a marketable degree from a reputable school. Cheaper options include community colleges with credit-transfer agreements; ROTC programs that require follow-on military service; and scholarships based on academic, athletic or affinity groups. Don't forget the time-tested approach of working one's way through college to help defray the costs.
  • Caring for your future needs means making funding your retirement accounts a top financial priority, once you've got your basic costs of living covered. Socking away money in your retirement accounts saves you taxes, keeps your money from being easily spent and gives you the chance to compound it to cover your own costs of aging.
If you really want to break the cycle that creates the sandwich generation so that you don't become a financial burden on your own keep your own costs down. Invest the money you're saving, and instead of being a financial burden on your kids, you may find yourself able to leave them and their children a lasting legacy of financial freedom. Wouldn't that a gift worth giving?

Chuck Saletta is a Motley Fool contributor. For more on ensuring a comfortable retirement for you and your family, see our free report in which Motley Fool retirement experts give their insight on a simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule to boost your retirement income.

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Very few people earn a rate of pay that will stretch far enough to pay for all the things their kids want and/or all the things their aging parents need. Getting hit from all sides by relatives looking for cash is just too much for any one person to cope with.

People have simply got to re-learn the concept of personal responsibility. Parents are responsible for their own retirement expenses. They can't expect to get extra cash from their kids because they failed to save enough for retirement during their working years.

On the other side of the coin, kids can't expect parents to fund expensive college tuition at the expense of failing to save for retirement. Kids used to work their way thru college. Now, they just sign up for loads of student loan debt and/or look to their parents for cash hand-outs. That has to stop.

August 17 2014 at 12:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The sandwich generation:

The anyone working a part time obama job building sandwiches and filling cups with soda.

"That will be $9.49 at the first window. Please drive forward."

August 16 2014 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another sales pitch from the insurance industry, complements of AOL and the Huffington Post.
Do I hear a shill?

August 16 2014 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jdykbpl45's comment

, Your comments sound like you have everything covered. Why don't you share your plan with us. SS is not the answer, and if you are not contributing to the GDP, you get the crumbs if there is any left.

August 16 2014 at 1:54 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply