Surviving the Sandwich: A Financial Balancing Act for People with Adult Kids, Aging Parents

If you’re feeling pressure to provide some kind of financial support to your aging parents as well as to your children while still trying to meet your own monetary goals and obligations, if you find yourself struggling to set your financial priorities because you feel pulled in multiple generational directions, you have company as a member of the Sandwich Generation.

Younger baby boomers and members of Generation X are most likely to find themselves “sandwiched.” A Pew Research Center study from 2015 found that in the United States, nearly half — 47% — of people in the 40-59 age range not only have one or two parents age 65 or older, they are also either raising a young child or have provided financial assistance to a grown child in the preceding 12 months.

In a perfect world, you would have enough money to meet your own financial needs and goals, while also offering financial assistance to an adult child and/or an aging parent if and when they need it. But many people don’t have that luxury. Instead, they’re faced with difficult either-or choices. And sometimes, given the emotions and family dynamics involved, those choices aren’t so clear-cut, says David Emery, a Certified Financial Planner™ with Marshall Financial Group in Doylestown, PA. “You have all these competing forces in play. It takes a lot of thought to sort out.”

Making sense of it all starts with gaining a clearer understanding of those competing forces:
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