Sharing a roof — and money tips — with adult kids and parents

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If you’re like many who are part of the Sandwich Generation, you have a busy household, often with children and aging parents or relatives all living under one roof. While this can be a joyous living arrangement, it can also be challenging as you try to balance your own financial wellness with that of your loved ones. To help keep your personal goals on track, it’s important to create a flexible financial plan, as well as encouraging your family members to take an active role in money management and building their own financial literacy. Here’s how you can help your family gain more financial independence and build strong financial futures. 

Who is the Sandwich Generation?
Adults in their 40s and 50s who are raising kids or financially supporting grown children while caring for older family members.

Supporting family members   

To better understand the Sandwich Generation and their unique situation, we conducted a study  that explored their financial and family dynamics. Among the group of respondents, we found: 

  • 76% financially support their adult child(ren). This could include helping pay for daily expenses, housing costs, insurance, education and reducing debt. 
  • Over 60% also financially support their extended family. 
  • 44% say financial strain is one of the biggest pain points of caretaking.
  • The heads of households are serving as sources of financial literacy for their adult children, including helping them to open a bank or savings account and explaining credit and debt management. 

Create a family budget

To manage your household finances and keep up with both planned and unexpected expenses, it’s helpful if everyone takes an active role in managing the budget. Start by reviewing all expenses, from individual phone bills and car payments to larger family expenses like the rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries and cable or streaming services. This not only gives your children valuable money management practice, but encourages them to contribute to caring for the larger group. Have conversations about what is feasible for them to pay each month, whether it’s a portion of all expenses or they’re responsible for covering certain bills. 

Along with a communal budget, help your children and parents create their own financial strategies for paying down debt, covering medical costs and saving for the future. For kids trying to grow an emergency fund or who wish to live independently by a set date, putting away $100 each month can add up quickly. Older adults may be able to pay certain bills or assist with household expenses. If not, perhaps they can contribute in other ways, like helping with meals or minor home repairs. 

Set financial goals together

Teaching your family about goal setting is an important lesson they can use for many years to come, especially for your grown children who will likely want to be on their own someday. Along with discussing building an emergency fund, have an open conversation about their financial and personal goals, their career aspirations and how they picture their lives in five or ten years down the road. If they have an employer who offers retirement benefits, encourage them to take full advantage of this opportunity to begin saving for the future. Create a financial plan together that outlines goal deadlines and revisit this regularly to determine if the timeline is still realistic.  

If you need to make any modifications to your home to accommodate your aging parents, discuss with them how you could share the costs. Perhaps they will assist with gas or maintenance costs if they use your car or if you drive them to appointments or to run errands. Help them map out their sources of monthly income and their overall costs, and whether they have specific financial goals they are working toward. Approaching financial planning as a collective effort can help lower individual stress and make money talks a more enjoyable experience.  

Help boost financial skills 

As you have honest discussions, you help bring money management to the forefront and allow your children and family members to grow their understanding of their personal finances. This also creates an opportunity for you to explore your own money habits and whether there is room for improvement. Listen to financial podcasts together or share helpful online content that increases financial literacy. Show how adopting best practices early can allow them to achieve their goals and manage their finances with more confidence. 

For both your children and your parents, meeting with a financial professional can be a valuable exercise to ensure everyone is able to achieve their individual goals. Even though each generation may have unique aspirations, the framework for turning those dreams into reality is similar. Seeking professional advice, especially from a third party, can often make difficult financial discussions go smoother and can take the pressure off you to manage everyone’s financial affairs. If you do not currently have a financial professional, we can help connect you with someone who can offer this guidance and expertise.

Living in a multigenerational household can come with its challenges, but creating a supportive environment for open communication and financial empowerment can help reduce frustration and bring more harmony to the home. 

Take our quiz  to learn about the unique challenges you may face if you’re caring for both children and aging parents and how to navigate this life stage more successfully.

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