Struggles of the Sandwich Generation

What you need to know to succeed when supporting both kids and parents

13 Dec 2019

If you are one of the many Americans supporting an aging parent while raising your children, you belong to the “Sandwich Generation.” Common for people in their 40s and 50s, this scenario can put a significant strain on your time and money. When armed with the right tools, however, it doesn’t have to be so challenging.

In a recent episode of the UBS On-Air podcast, Total Wealth Strategist Ainsley Carbone and Investment Strategist Justin Waring, both from the UBS Chief Investment Office, sat down to share their insights into the best way to manage your money while sandwiched between elderly parents and young children.

Key takeaways

  • Americans in their 40s and 50s—the “Sandwich Generation”—must pursue their own financial goals and plan for retirement while supporting both their elderly parents and growing children.
  • One of the biggest challenges of belonging to this generation is an information barrier between family members, but this is something people can work together to overcome.
  • Total Wealth Strategist Ainsley Carbone recommends setting expectations with your children that they need to start covering some of their own expenses to free up room in your budget to care for your parents. 

Budgeting for yourself and others

“Our grandparents’ generation was one of the first to have a full-fledged, multi-decade retirement period,” said Waring. “And our parents’ generation is one of the first generations to be stuck in a situation where they need to support their parents and their children.”

Longer lifespans are just one factor leading to this new financial conundrum. A trend of older children moving back home also adds financial strain and contributes to the “Sandwich Generation” household.

Having the money talk with loved ones

“Most families are very hesitant to talk about money,” Waring shared. One of the biggest challenges of belonging to this generation is an information barrier between family members, but this is something people can work together to overcome.

One significant challenge unique to the “Sandwich Generation” is the phasing out of pensions. Unlike previous generations, which were likely able to rely on pension income, “the responsibility of saving for retirement is now on the retiree, instead of the company,” Carbone explained.

Between their lack of pensions and their responsibility to cover the costs incurred by both their parents and children, those belonging to the “Sandwich Generation” must “put a lot more effort into their retirement savings strategy,” Carbone concludes.

Strategies to overcome sandwich struggles

In the latest UBS On-Air episode, Carbone and Waring share how members of the “Sandwich Generation” can plan for retirement savings while juggling their competing priorities. Listen to the podcast, and then subscribe to UBS On-Air to get regular insights from our team that help you make the most of your money.


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