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Financial Help for Women in the Sandwich Generation

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we at MSA want to honor women for doing all that you do. We also want to be sensitive to all of the pressures and pulls on your time and energy that may be happening.
By MSA Staff

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we at MSA want to honor women for doing all that you do. We also want to be sensitive to all of the pressures and pulls on your time and energy that may be happening. The pandemic has exacerbated the “typical” issues facing the sandwich generation by creating even more challenges for women. This should no longer be called the sandwich generation, but instead, women are becoming the club sandwich generation.

Sandwich Generation

This is a clever term that refers to the generation of women (in most cases) being caught or sandwiched between their kids who may be struggling financially and need help and their elderly parents who are also struggling and may need financial help. These simultaneous burdens during the pandemic have heightened financial and emotional stress. Women, in greater numbers than men, have had to take off work to care for kids who couldn’t go to school; take off time from work to care for their adult children returning to the nest because they may have lost their jobs or became ill; and also, take off time to care for parents and take them to doctors.

Why the Big Deal?

It’s because the real “meat in the sandwich” (women) are worried about not having enough “bread” to support all of the generations that are relying upon them for financial help.  The pressures mount as life shifts. Women are living longer, which is great, but that also means that elderly parents may need more help for a longer period of time.  That translates into the sandwich generation having to give up their work to care for their parents.  The sandwiched woman may be raising her own younger kids, and then couple that with older kids moving back into the empty nest, and we have a recipe for a real financial burden.

The big deal is that women are still the caregivers, in the majority of cases.  They are pulled in so many directions. As discussed, the pandemic caused many to have to leave the workplace to handle all of these circumstances.  Many moms are single and are really under even more pressure.

What Can be Done?

  • Deep Breath – The first thing to consider is to try to balance all of your obligations and try not to be stretched so thin that you burn out because so many people are depending upon you. You need to even schedule a daily “time-out” for yourself to take a walk or to meet or video chat with a friend.
  • Have the Talks – Talk to your kids and parents about sharing all the household responsibilities. Older kids may have to pitch-in with caring for their grandparents.  Younger kids can even help by spending time with their grandparents.  They could play cards or a board game or watch a tv show with them. Maybe older kids could help with cleaning and taking grandma or grandpa to the doctor. Also, grandparents may be healthy enough to be in charge of the younger kids’ homework or babysitting for them.  These will not only free up some time for you but may save you some money, as well.
  • Family Budget – Design a family budget with the whole family – all of the generations.  The adult kids may have to take jobs that don’t meet their expectations but help pay the bills. Be honest about what you can and can’t afford.  Ask each member what they are willing to sacrifice or help with.  Give them each a goal to reduce their expenditures.  Maybe they each have to figure out how to save, say, $50.00 a week to contribute back into the family budget.  Let them come up with ways to save.  If your parents are unable to drive, it is a perfect time to get rid of their car and insurance costs.  Your younger kids can think about cutting down discretionary spending on entertainment, everything from designer coffee to streaming services. Set up a family challenge to rotate the making of meals including the freezing of an extra meal.  Shop in bulk.  You get the point.
  • Don’t Touch Your Retirement Savings – It’s tempting to start to liquidate or borrow from your retirement savings.  Try not to touch that money because it’s so hard to build that back up again.  Think about the consequences of you just kicking-the-can-down-the-road for your kids, who could then become the next sandwich generation financially caring for you.
  • Seek Help – We at MSA have tips and tools to help you to navigate these choppy financial waters and to design a plan forward. Also, many communities are offering support groups; you are not alone. You may learn of new resources and coping skills.

We know that you are capable of doing everything: work, family, friends, volunteer work – all of it. As we celebrate Women’s Month, you need to also celebrate yourself. You are the lynchpin of the family. Our message from MSA is that we want to celebrate women; we want to celebrate YOU, and we want to help you with whatever financial situation you find yourself in. We are here to help you be all that you can be.

About the Author

Neale Godfrey is a New York Times #1 Best Selling Author of 27 books on empowering families (and their kids) to take charge of their financial lives.

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