Saving, Investing and Finding Balance in the Sandwich Generation

Saving, Investing and Finding Balance in “The Sandwich Generation”

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: one in seven middle-aged Americans care for and financially support their children and elderly parents at the same time. That’s nearly 15 percent! It’s become so common, in fact, that this group who is sandwiched between children and parents even have their own goofy name: the Sandwich Generation.

It’s a tough balancing act to pull off – and even more so when you add your own savings and retirement goals to the mix. So how do you prioritize who gets what? Is it selfish to save for yourself when others depend on you? How can you possibly afford elder care, college and your own investments all at the same time?

Don’t panic. You can do this. Let’s just take things one at a time.

Your Children

You would do anything for them. They have been the focus of your life for years – maybe decades – and they need you. Remember these tips to help yourself help them.

  • College is expensive, and it will come up sooner than you think. If you haven’t already, start planning now.
  • Proactively seek as much information as you can on college savings and assistance plans like state and federal grants, 529 plans and need-based assistance at your schools of choice.
  • Take an active role in supporting and encouraging strong academic performance so scholarships may be an option.
  • Put your children on a path to financial literacy and independence by educating them from an early age on the importance of budgeting, goal setting and building credit and the dangers of debt.

Your Parents

You would also do anything for them. They were there for you as you grew up and found your way in the world. Now it’s time to return the favor. Just remember:

  • Establish and maintain open lines of communication with parents and your siblings.
  • Get to know your parents’ finances, including debt, income and investments.
  • Discuss their wishes for long-term elder care and help them explore the financial implications.
  • Examine their health and life insurance policies and decide together if they’re adequate.
  • Engage a financial advisor who can offer guidance and help you plan for the future.
  • Discuss and prepare documents like Power of Attorney, wills, living wills and beneficiary designations.


People often put themselves at the bottom of the list. With so many others depending on you for money and care, how can you find time to take care of yourself? Do it. You can’t help them unless you’re in good shape. It’s worth the investment. Here’s what you can do.

  • Continue to focus on and prioritize your savings goals.
  • Schedule automatic drafts and transfers when possible to avoid the manual effort of saving money (and the “I’ll just skip this month” excuse).
  • Explore your company’s 401(k) options. They are easy to invest in and may include matching funds.
  • Talk to a financial advisor about an IRA that could include some tax exempt or deferred advantages.
  • Take advantage of pretax dollars by using a Health Savings Account to more efficiently pay for your own healthcare.
  • Delegate and share responsibilities with your siblings, if possible.
  • Seek support from organizations and groups for elder caregivers to manage stress and meet people working through the same issues.

Finding the balance between caring for children, elderly parents and yourself may seem like a burden. But consider the blessing you have been given of a family who loves you and depends on you. You are in a position to make a great impact on the lives of the people who mean the most to you.

Tammy can be reached by phone at (865) 602-3601 or email at  

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