By: Scott Van Den Berg, CFP®, ChFC®, CEPA®, AIR®, CRPS®, CMFC®, AWMA®
We are in an era where the changing dynamics of modern life have resulted in a unique phenomenon: the rise of the sandwich generation. These are individuals—often in the prime of their careers and lives—who are nestled between raising their children and caring for their aging parents. In a landscape defined by the harmony of love and the weight of responsibility, it's a tightrope walk, one that demands the balance of time, finances, and emotional commitment.
Growing up watching my father, Arnold Van Den Berg, shape a successful life in the financial services industry, I learned early on about the intricacies of managing resources. Today, as a seasoned wealth manager, my journey and experiences have shown me parallels between managing wealth and navigating the complexities of the sandwich generation. Here's what I've gleaned.
Understanding the Commitment
One of the first steps in navigating this challenging phase is acknowledging its demands:
- Time: Balancing work, children’s activities, doctor’s appointments, and parents’ needs can stretch your day thin.
- Finances: The cost of caregiving can be significant, not just in terms of direct expenses but also in lost opportunities and time.
- Emotion: There’s a unique emotional toll that comes with watching parents age, all while raising a younger generation.
Effective Communication is Key
- Open Conversations with Parents: Engage your aging parents in discussions about their preferences, needs, and financial situation. Remember that these are delicate conversations and must be approached with sensitivity and respect. You may want to consider having a financial advisor help you and your family with these conversations.
- Family Meetings: Keeping your immediate family informed and involved can help distribute responsibilities and maintain unity. Have a game plan.
It's easy to get consumed by the needs of others, but remember:
- Set Boundaries: Define what you can realistically manage.
- Take Breaks: Even a short walk or a few moments of meditation can help rejuvenate your spirit.
- Seek Counseling: There's no shame in seeking professional guidance when grappling with emotional strain.
Establish a Strong Support Network
You don’t have to shoulder everything alone:
- Local Communities: Many communities offer resources for caregivers, from seminars to respite services.
- Online Platforms: Use the vast reach of the internet. There are numerous online forums and support groups where individuals share experiences and advice.
- Professional Services: Engage in professional caregiving or consulting services for specialized needs.
Financial Planning and Management
Being part of Century Management has taught me that planning is pivotal. Especially for the sandwich generation, sound financial planning can make a world of difference:
- Set a Budget: Understand the costs involved in caregiving for parents and kids and adjust your financial plan accordingly. Don’t forget to also include planning for your own secure financial future.
- Consult Professionals: Engage with financial advisors to get a clearer picture of potential tax benefits, savings opportunities, financial tradeoffs, ways to communicate and more.
- Leverage Technology: Use apps and platforms to track expenses, appointments, and manage finances.
At Century Management, we often say, "We understand small businesses because we are one." Similarly, I understand the journey of the sandwich generation, not just as a financial advisor, but as someone who values the tapestry of family, responsibility, and commitment. Remember, you're not alone in this journey. By employing the right strategies and constructive communication, seeking support and advice, and taking moments to cherish the love and memories, you can navigate this phase with grace and make a lasting impact on the lives of those you hold dear.
For more insights on financial management and planning, especially for those in unique life situations, please visit our website at centman.com.
Century Management ("CM") is an independently registered investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. CM is also registered as a Portfolio Manager in the Province of Ontario. This discussion is educational in nature and not intended to be investment advice. A full description of our Firm’s business practices, including our Firm’s investment management services, wealth plans and advisory fees, are supplied in our Form ADV Part 2A and/or Form CRS, which are available upon request or at www.centman.com. CM-2023-11-01