It’s a position that your grandparents probably never had to consider: how to balance being a parent to a young adult and care for your elderly parents at the same time. But this is the exact position many in their 30s and 40s are finding themselves in. It even has a name: the “sandwich generation.”
How do you balance financially caring for both an elderly parent and a college student? Here are some tips to help make this transitional time in your life a little easier.
Have an Honest Talk
Never underestimate the power of an honest conversation with your parents. It may not be easy, but you need to start asking the tough questions before the situation becomes critical.
- Do you have an updated will?
- What is your ideal living situation? To stay in your house as long as possible, or would you be willing to move to a smaller place?
- Would you want someone to come help you do things you can’t do anymore?
- Would you give your doctor permission to talk to us about your medical needs?
- If something happens, how do you feel about being kept alive with ventilators, feeding tubes or other medical intervention?
- Do you have a plan for medical emergencies?
- Would you be willing to give someone power of attorney over your finances if you’re unable to handle them yourself?
Answering these questions in advance, while never easy, has the potential to save you a lot of pain down the road. Having a plan of action in place before an emergency happens can help ease your mind and allow you to prepare finances in advance. As always, consult with a trusted financial planner and/or an attorney.
Don’t Neglect Your Retirement
Between caring for your parents and saving for your child’s college expenses, it may be tempting to neglect contributing to your retirement. In a word: don’t.
Think about what you want your retirement years to look like. Will you work part-time? Do you want to travel? As always, consult with a financial planner about what your ideal retirement looks like; he or she can find ways to help you stay on track with your goals.
Strategies for the College-Bound
Having a college savings plan in place for your children is both generous and financially savvy. But don’t forget that there’s plenty your kids could do to help supplement their own college savings. Of course there’s the standard route of savings from a summer or part-time job, but it’s also smart to make sure your soon-to-be high school grads are on the hunt for scholarships. Why pass up the opportunity for free money?
There are also multiple resources available for student aid, including federal and state resources. Don’t assume that you have to bear the financial burden of college tuition alone; a little extra research could save you thousands!
Being part of the sandwich generation is challenging in a lot of unique ways, but having a plan in place to help balance your finances between aging parents and college-bound kids can ease some of the burden. And you don’t have to go it alone; a Farm Bureau agent can help you make sure your insurance needs are met, both today and in the future.