by guest poster
Three lifestyle trends are converging to create a group of Australians known as the “sandwich generation”.
The first trend: high home prices. This is a trend that Ryde District residents are all too familiar with, as our median house price here is in the neighbourhood of $1,500,000.
The second trend: having children later in life; and the third: longer lifespans.
When taken together, all three phenomena can result in a group of people that are simultaneously having to care for both their own children and their ageing parents in addition to trying to manage their own finances. In Australia, there are an estimated 1.5 million-plus sandwich carers in this group.
Members of the sandwich generation frequently find themselves suffering from financial and emotional challenges. The following tips are intended to help sandwich generation mums cope with this trying situation:
1. Create a comfortable, functional multi-generational Home
When you find yourself having to care for aged parents, one of the physically easiest and most cost-effective solutions could be having them move in with you. Multi-generational housing eliminates the need to pay for costly aged care facilities for your elders. It can also save travel time, eliminating the need for you to spend time driving back and forth between your home and your elders’ home as you help to care for them.
When multiple generations of adults live together, lack of privacy is one of the primary problems to overcome. An existing home may need some renovations to make the space suitable. Successful multi-generational spaces typically include some shared living space plus private quarters, too. One popular solution is a backyard granny flat that includes its own entrance; another is an upstairs loft living space with its own doorway.
2. Make a realistic financial plan
When you’re raising your children and also helping to support your parents, you’re most likely experiencing financial pressure to make it all work. Careful financial planning is essential for sandwich generation mums.
Budgeting empowers you to spend your money consciously on the things that are most important to you and your family members. If you’re having challenges with ensuring that everyone’s needs are met, you may find it easier to overcome these difficulties with careful budgeting.
As you make your family’s budget, it can be helpful to conduct research on where costs can be cut. It’s worth doing this even in cases where you think you’re already getting the best value.
For example, if you have assumed that private health insurance is an unnecessary expense, you might want to re-evaluate your assessment, taking your elders’ situation into consideration. According to the New Daily, private health insurance can frequently offer a better value than Medicare for Australians who are over the age of 55 or have income above $90,000 per year. If either of those criteria applies to your elders, it would likely be worthwhile to invest some effort in choosing seniors health insurance that will meet their needs.
If you’re having trouble arriving at a workable budget, it can be helpful to talk to a professional financial advisor.
3. Care for yourself first
Mums have an unfortunate tendency to take care of everyone but themselves. Be sure to allocate time for self-care, because you will have trouble caring for others in the long term if your own needs go unmet.
You also need to give some consideration to caring for yourself first financially. If you’re taking care of kids plus parents, it’s possible that you might be sacrificing your own financial future. You should not neglect to plan for your own retirement when you provide support to your family members. If you’re struggling with limitations on your ability to save money, it is possible that perhaps a salary sacrificing super arrangement might be a workable option for boosting your long-term savings.
4. Seek support at times when you need it
Support may be available to you from a variety of sources. If you have family members who could assist, do not be ashamed to discuss the situation with them and alert them to what they could do to help.
There are also government resources available for carers. See “Caring for Someone” and “Carer Gateway” for additional details on carer support that may be available to your family. “Disability and Carers” may also be of interest, depending on your family’s unique situation.
It’s certainly challenging to be a member of the sandwich generation. Hopefully, these tips can help you overcome the challenges and make a difference in bettering your family’s situation.