Sandwich Generation: 11 Tips To Afford Caring For Your Children, Parents, And Self at the Same Time

MANAGE MONEY - BUDGETING
It‘s daunting — but doable — to be financially responsible for your kids, your parents, and yourself.
Updated Aug. 13, 2023
Extended family having a delightful lunch together

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It can be tough to be a parent and pay for everyday items for your kids. And as your parents age, their financial issues could become yours.

How can you keep your bank account afloat when you’re trying to take care of the older generation and the younger one?

If you’re financially sandwiched between two generations in need, here are a few things that can help you pay for it all.

Don’t forget outside funds

zimmytws/Adobe Application for enrolling in Medicare

Your parents may have a pension or health insurance, such as Medicare, that can help cover any additional costs you may be struggling to afford.

Even if your parents are on a fixed income, they may still have money coming in from various sources. Make sure you have a clear picture of all their income sources to maximize what you have to work with.

Use a budget to track expenses

Prostock-studio/Adobe Stressed man gazing at laptop screen

It can be hard to pay for kids and your parents, so it’s a good idea to track all expenses on a budget.

You should have a few different ledgers running to track what you spend on your kids and your parents. You may be able to look back and identify places where you can save more money.

Get rid of debt

Wayhome Studio/Adobe Couple looking at how to get rid of debt

Remember that it’s not just your debt you have to worry about if you’re trying to take care of multiple generations.

Keep your family’s debt as low as possible, including debt incurred by your kids or parents. You may have to have frank discussions with members of both generations about what can be spent and what will need to be cut.

Check on tax implications

Garry L./Adobe U.S. tax return forms

You may already be claiming your kids as dependents on your taxes, but you might not know that you can also claim parents as dependents.

Check with your accountant to see if your parent qualifies to be considered a dependent on your taxes. It could save you extra cash that you can put back into paying for their care.

Consider your living arrangements

Drazen/Adobe Woman visiting her elderly father at the nursing home

Several options could help you save money, depending on your circumstances.

Find out how affordable it could be to have your parents at home with a nurse compared to moving to a nursing facility.

You may also want to think about your living situation with your kids and whether downsizing is a more affordable option if you’re spread too thin.

Remember to pay yourself

H_Ko/Adobe Adding extra funds for future necessities

It can be hard to juggle costs for parents and kids, but you must also remember to pay yourself.

Save money where you can and try to invest extra cash into a retirement plan like a 401(k) through your employer. You’ll be thankful when you have the cash you need to cover your own expenses.

Sell things

zinkevych/Adobe Woman at a garage sale

Your parents may be older and have things around the house that they can’t use anymore. Or perhaps your kids have grown out of clothes that once fit them.

Try selling them online through a marketplace, such as Facebook Marketplace, or think about having a garage sale to raise some extra cash. Then you can put those funds back into caring for your parents or kids.

Talk about your financial issues

peopleimages.com/Adobe Couple looking at bills

Be open about your financial issues as someone sandwiched between two generations.

Talk to your parents about their financial needs and potential ways they can contribute additional money to help you out.

And remember that it’s important to be honest with your kids about your financial situation. You may be surprised at ideas they come up with or things they may be able to do to cut spending for the household.

Review big-ticket items

Konstantin Yuganov/Adobe Woman displaying a receipt to her mother

Your parents may have a big-ticket item like assisted living or a nursing home looming, and your kids might be off to college soon.

Look over your financial planning for both situations and see if there are additional ways to fund one or both.

You may be surprised at how much money your parents get from Medicare or personal investments. And you can help your kids figure out where to apply for student loans or receive scholarships to help them pay for school.

Get a financial advisor

Rawpixel.com/Adobe A financial advisor is offering advice to a couple

Trying to figure out how to cover two different generations may be too daunting to do on your own.

Find a financial advisor who can help you navigate the issues involved with helping two generations. And make sure you ask for a financial advisor specializing in these issues. You may be surprised by what they can do to help you save.

Set financial boundaries

Wayhome Studio/Adobe Young couple reviewing documents

You want to help loved ones, but you also don’t want to be taken advantage of when it comes to your money.

Set financial boundaries, especially if you’re being pulled in two different directions by your parents and children. Telling them you’re going to say “no” to certain things gives everyone reasonable expectations and helps lower your financial stress.

Bottom line

Konstantin Yuganov/Adobe Generations of family members

It can be tough to balance your love for your parents and kids with your feeling of financial responsibility for them.

It’s essential to sit down with your budget so you know exactly how much you have coming in (and from what income sources) and where that money is going. You may even be able to find ways to make extra money.

And if you’re struggling financially, remember to take care of yourself before caring for others. It’s important to ensure you’re as financially secure as possible before you can start spending cash on other people.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.