Retirement Tips for the Sandwich Generation

About 47% of adults in their 40s and 50s are providing for both an aging parent and a child. Called the sandwich generation, this group is stuck in the middle of a financial dilemma. How can they save for their retirement while also saving for their children’s college education costs and meeting their parent’s emotional and financial needs?

TIAA-CREF Certified Financial Planner Shelly-Ann Eweka sat down with Black Enterprise and offered the following advice:

How can those in the sandwich generation make sure their retirement does not suffer as they balance their children’s needs with their parents’ needs?

If you’re a baby boomer or Gen Xer, chances are you’re among the 20 million Americans caught in what’s called the sandwich generation, people who simultaneously care for aging parents and children. One out of eight baby boomers — Americans between the ages of 50 and 70 — is raising a child and providing financial assistance to an aging parent at the same time.

Careful financial and legal planning can help you avoid many of the pitfalls associated with struggling caregivers.

Take care of yourself. While it’s easy to get caught up in helping a sick parent or child, remember that your family’s future depends greatly on how you plan and prepare for that future today. It’s important to stay healthy and take care of yourself — your parents (and children, if you have any) are counting on you!

Retirement accounts. Don’t stop putting money away for retirement. By saving for retirement, you are helping to ensure your own financial future, which will put you and your children in a better position when you get older. Take a set amount of money out of each paycheck and invest it in a retirement savings account, such as an individual retirement account or IRA, or an employer-sponsored 401(k).

Set up an emergency fund. Most financial planners advise putting away at least six months’ worth of living expenses for emergencies. This can be especially important if you need to take time off from work to care for elderly parents or sick children.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview with Shelly-Ann Eweka. Also keep an eye out for our annual wealth issue in the October issue of Black Enterprise.