5 Tips for the Club Sandwich Generation

I’m fortunate to work everyday with clients who believe in a world bigger than themselves—they donate time and money to loved ones, as well as their community.  Most are members of the “Club Sandwich Generation,” defined as those in their 50s and 60s who want to enjoy the fruits of their labor, but are being pulled in multiple directions by the needs of elderly parents, adult children and grandchildren.  There are many articles that describe this generation as financially stressed, anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, but these don’t tell the full story.  My personal experience is one where people are grateful, joyful, and passionate.  How do our clients handle this “stressful” time, and how can other members of this “club” find more meaning and joy in their lives?

  1. They review Estate Planning documents (their own and their parents).  I find that members of this generation may have done some planning, whether it be a simple will or a trust, but haven’t pulled these documents out of the safety deposit box or file cabinet to review them in decades.  An important first step is to make sure these documents are up to date, and that your assets are titled to match the documents. This is accomplished by re-titling investment accounts or modifying your beneficiaries. It can be helpful to use an intermediary, like an attorney or wealth advisor, to open lines of communication between family members.
  2. They proactively plan for their retirement.  At this point, money has been saved for retirement, the majority of children’s education has been funded, and maybe even a wedding or two has been celebrated (and paid for).  At this point, most people are asking themselves if they have saved enough to retire comfortably.  Proactive planning makes the transition to retirement easier, and allows you to spend time doing the things you enjoy rather than stressing about your finances.  Active engagement in the process and coordination with a wealth advisory team is a formula for confidence when making important decision, like when to retire.
  3. They gift to their children.  Many parents have supported their adult children financially as they pursued college and post graduate degrees, and some continue to help their kids as they establish their careers.  Gifting is one way to assist adult children earlier in their lives, and there are some good reasons to do this. It helps children get started in planning their own financial futures, and allows them to enjoy the positive effects of your gifts when they may need it the most to buy a home, pay off college loans, or start a family of their own. For 2018, each parent (grandparent or anyone) can donate up to $15,000 per person. There are no limits to the number of people you can give to.
  4. They donate their time and money to charity.  As retirement approaches, you may find yourself being pulled in many different directions, not only financially, but also timewise, as your family adds new daughters or sons-in-law and grandchildren.  However, studies show that by volunteering time, money, and energy, you will not only feel better, but you can make a significant contribution and difference.  We recommend finding a charity or cause that is close to your heart and community and getting involved.  This could be as simple as walking dogs from the local shelter on weekends, to donating money to a local arts society.  Online sources such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar provide thorough reviews and allow you to search for charities both locally and nationally.
  5. They take time for themselves and live a healthy lifestyle.  This time of life can be stressful, so it is important to do things that will make you feel better and healthier. Travel, meditation, exercise, or a nice meal out can all have a calming effect. You may want to ask for help, or turn over certain responsibilities, especially when you feel that more expertise is needed. I find that members of this “club” appreciate working with a team of financial professionals who can alleviate them of the burden and stress of investing and financial management, especially during a time of life when mistakes can become very costly.

Members of the “Club Sandwich Generation” are in an exciting time of life marked by unique challenges and opportunities.  By partnering with an advisory team experienced in navigating the unique aspects of their personal situation, they are not on this journey alone.