The ‘Sandwich Generation’ – Unconventional Ways Young Adults Can Help Their Parents
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An increasing number of young adults are part of the “sandwich generation,” meaning they’re caring for both a parent and a child—and often more than one of each. While it’s more common for those in middle age to face this predicament, more and more twenty-somethings are part of this squeezed and stressed demographic.
Unlike older counterparts who have been climbing the career ladder and are more likely to be in a better financial position, twenty-somethings aren’t in a position to hand over monthly stipends to their parents, especially if they’re facing debt and the responsibility of taking care of young kids.
As much as these young adults would probably love to help out with cash gifts, they also have to be thinking about their current financial situation, paying off debt, preparing for retirement, and planning for child-related expenses.
So what’s a grateful child who wants to help out, but doesn’t have the cash, to do? Here are five tips to give you some ideas.
Urge your parents to think about improving their financial situation
It’s entirely possible that your parents don’t know how badly off they are, even if you see signs of trouble. Since finances are a touchy subject, you might want to start talking more openly about what you’ve been learning about money, how you’ve paid off your student loan debt, or how you’ve started investing in your 401(k).
This will open up the discussion and then you can see how open they are to talking about it. Depending on their age and abilities, what they can do will vary, but they can learn to budget and maybe find a few small debts they could easily pay off within a few months. Plus, it’s not too hard to create or pick up a short-term part-time job.
Help them find applicable insurance policies
For older adults who are deeply in debt, a term life-insurance policy would be a huge help in getting out of debt and staying afloat financially if their partner passes away.
Long-term care insurance is another insurance policy they should have in place once they’re over 60, since it doesn’t take more than a few weeks in a nursing home to put a huge dent in their savings. If your parents aren’t very computer savvy, take an hour and research some insurance options that you can present to them to get them thinking about it.
Encourage them to start a side business
After decades of working, they’re looking forward to retirement—days spent with friends, volunteering with favorite charities, and weekends with the grandkids. However, your parents may not be able to afford to give up working.
Brainstorm a list of possible part-time jobs that they could do, based on their interests and past work experiences. Perhaps your dad could be a handyman for hire, working with neighbors, real estate agents, and apartment complexes to do repairs. Maybe he was an accountant; the tax season is a great time to bring in some extra cash. Was mom a math teacher? She could tutor students, write a blog sharing math tips for parents, or write test questions for textbook and testing companies.
Hire them to help around the house
If you live relatively near to them and they have more time than you do, you can help their financial situation by outsourcing the tasks you don’t have time for but might otherwise pay someone else to do.
From shopping for groceries and dusting the house to washing the windows and cutting the grass, you can hire your parents to do the same things you’d pay a housekeeper or service professional to do.
You can also have them watch the kids in lieu of day care or after-school programs, knowing that they’re in great hands. It’s a win-win for both; you get quality help and they have extra cash.
Consider an alternative living situation
It’s not difficult to find a list of places in the country or world that have a low cost of living, and if you think your parents would be up for a change of location, you might suggest this. Besides moving to a different location, they could also downsize and move into a small condo or house that is a better fit for their post-retirement life.
Another option is to create a multigenerational household and move in with them, or vice versa. Many cultures around the world find it odd that American’s don’t do this as their parents age, and statistics show that more than 18 percent of US households have more than one generation living together.
This isn’t for the faint of heart. Be sure that everyone is in agreement and draw up a contract that clearly outlines the boundaries.
If you’re a part of the “sandwich generation,” and are caring for both your children and aging parents, these are just a few things you can do to help ease your parents’ debt (if they have it) without going broke yourself.
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