As a financial advisor, I often find myself reflecting on the challenges my clients face and how financial
planning can make a world of difference, especially during life’s storms. Recently, I’ve been hearing a
buzzword that resonates with many of us – “the sandwich generation.” It’s not tied to a specific age
group but rather represents a season of life where individuals find themselves squeezed between caring
for their children and aging parents.


I’ve had a front-row seat to this phenomenon, not as a main character but as a careful observer. In
September 2022, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Since then, I’ve watched my
wife and her sister juggle the roles of being mothers, wives, and supportive daughters. They are
delicately balancing family obligations and full-time jobs with doctors visits and medical decisions, along
with a host of other duties.

The emotional toll is immense, and they often feel stretched thin, trying to
manage their jobs, their children, and their parents’ care, all while wrestling with psychological and
financial stress.


The “Sandwich Generation”


To delve deeper into the concept of the “sandwich generation,” it’s essential to mention two things:

  • It transcends generational demographics. Instead, it represents a season of life characterized by
    a profound sense of responsibility and care.
  • Traditionally, this role primarily fell on women, but societal dynamics have evolved.

Today, men are increasingly active participants in their households, sharing caregiving responsibilities, and
more women are pursuing careers outside the home. This shift in roles and responsibilities has
redefined the concept of the “sandwich generation,” making it a widespread experience.


This group of people faces a unique set of challenges – emotional, psychological, and financial. The
weight of it all can be overwhelming, leaving individuals wondering how to manage everything with just
24 hours in a day. In most cases, decisions about career choices, job flexibility, time management and
care options become paramount. It’s a delicate juggling act, and it often comes with the added weight of
financial stress.


My personal situation has reinforced my belief in the importance of financial planning. Not because I
make a living out of financial planning, but because I know many people can just imagine the difference
it would make for them if, when faced with these challenges, they were better prepared because they
had saved for retirement, secured the right health plans, and put in place a comprehensive care plan for
their families.

Finding themselves in the “sandwich generation” is a reality check for many individuals who are just
beginning to realize the extent of their parents’ financial planning, or in many cases, the lack thereof. It’s
astonishing how frequently I encounter situations where parents didn’t adequately plan for their
financial future.

While on the surface some may appear to live comfortably and possess everything they
need and more, however they’re not prepared for life’s storms.

When there’s no financial planning, an accident, sickness or any other unforeseen event forces them and their children to walk on a financial tightrope where everyone is just trying to keep the balance and make ends meet.

This can create unnecessary stress and anxiety which can have a huge impact on your household, and it all can be greatly reduced or avoided altogether.


Controlling What You Can in An Uncertain World


In my role as a financial advisor, I approach the issues the “sandwich generation” faces from multiple
angles, including investment and financial planning. It’s about setting up a financial safety net, making
strategic investments, and having a comprehensive plan in place to weather life’s storms. My wife, on
the other hand, emphasizes the insurance aspect – highlighting the importance of long-term care plans
and life insurance. This holistic approach ensures that individuals not only navigate their immediate
challenges but also secure their financial well-being for the future, providing peace of mind for
themselves and their loved ones.


It’s like the powerful lesson in the story from the Bible where Jesus slept through the storm. He had faith
that the necessary work had been done to secure the ship’s safety. This story mirrors my approach to
financial life – it might be challenging, emotionally draining, and time-consuming, but I can assure you
that the alternative, not planning, is far more challenging.


Financial planning is about influencing or controlling what you can in an uncertain world. While we can’t
control our parents’ health, we certainly can influence the process by having the right plans in place. You
may be asking yourself, but Taylor, how do I go about this?


Start the conversation. Have the financial conversation with your parents.


Get your own financial house in order too. Discuss the current situation, from life insurance and
retirement plans to savings and legal matters like wills and trusts. Understand all financial obligations,
whether it’s a mortgage or other debts. Knowing who to call, where documents are located, and what
resources they have is paramount in managing a financial crisis triggered by a health event.
I realize that discussing financial matters with your parents or aging loved ones can be uncomfortable,
even daunting, but it’s a necessary step that can make a world of difference – both emotionally and
financially. Preparing in advance can save you from being caught off guard, or totally helpless, when the
storm hits.


Recently I was talking with an estate planning attorney, and she told me about a client of hers that was
trying to cobble together a medical power of attorney for her ailing mother. Her client sought her
services after her single mother fell ill and was unable to make medical decisions. This situation
highlights how important is to a) have a plan and all the necessary elements in place, and b) know where
these vital documents are stored.


How can an experienced financial advisor help those in the “sandwich generation”?

You know what they say, it’s better to be prepared for the storm than to hope it never comes. Here are
some ways a financial advisor such as myself and my team at Four Points Wealth Management can help
if you need support in ensuring you’re not caught off guard and providing a safety net for your loved
ones.

  1. Comprehensive Financial Planning: A skilled financial advisor can work with you to create a
    comprehensive financial plan that considers your immediate needs and long-term goals. They’ll
    help you identify potential financial gaps, such as insufficient retirement savings or inadequate
    insurance coverage, and develop strategies to address them. By having a clear plan in place, you
    can better allocate your resources and ensure you’re prepared for unexpected expenses related
    to both your children and aging parents.
  2. Retirement Planning: This is particularly crucial for those in the “sandwich generation.” A
    skilled advisor can assess your current retirement savings, estimate future expenses, and help
    you make informed decisions about how much you need to save to secure a comfortable
    retirement.
  3. Insurance Guidance: Insurance also plays a pivotal role in the financial security of the
    “sandwich generation.” A financial advisor can help you explore options to mitigate the financial
    strain of caring for family members in need of extended care or ensure your family is covered if
    something were to happen to a parent of the household.
  4. Estate Planning: Estate planning is often overlooked but is a critical aspect of ensuring that
    your assets are distributed according to your wishes. A trusted financial advisor can be your
    advocate when working with an attorney to create a will, establishing trusts, and designating
    beneficiaries. Proper estate planning can help avoid disputes and minimize the financial impact
    of inheritance taxes.
  5. Investment Strategies: Financial advisors can help you design investment strategies that align
    with your financial goals and appetite for risk. They’ll consider your unique situation, including
    the financial responsibilities you have towards both your children and aging parents. A well-
    constructed investment portfolio can help meet your financial goals and provide a financial
    cushion during challenging times.
  6. Tax Efficiency: Minimizing and reducing tax liabilities is essential for preserving your wealth. A
    financial advisor can help you explore tax-efficient investment options and strategies, ensuring
    that you’re not paying more in taxes than necessary. These extra savings can be directed toward
    your family’s needs and future planning.

In essence, an experienced financial advisor acts as a trusted guide, offering tailored solutions to help
you alleviate financial stress. This provides peace of mind, allowing you to focus on what truly matters –
supporting your loved ones through life’s ups and downs.


The “sandwich generation” faces a unique set of challenges, and the importance of financial planning
cannot be overstated. Bringing up this topic can be difficult, but it’s a way to provide a safety net for
your loved ones. So, start the conversation, help your aging loved ones navigate life’s challenges with
confidence and take the opportunity to also prepare for your future needs.

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