Are You Caught in the Middle of the Sandwich Generation?

By Alden WickerLearnVest

Sandwich Generation” doesn’t really do the issue justice. It would be more accurate to called it the “Smushed Sandwich Generation.”

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That’s because middle-aged adults are more likely than ever to be supporting both grown children and older parents, putting a hard squeeze on their finances.

The Sandwich Generation, which is officially defined as have a living parent age 65 or older and either raising a child under age 18 or supporting a grown child, is growing.

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, almost half of adults have provided financial support to a grown child in the past year. 27% are providing their main support. Meanwhile, 21% of middle-aged adults are providing support to their own parents.

Fifteen percent are providing support to both.

Why the Middle-Aged Are Stuck in the Middle

It could be because the youngest generation is suffering from a navel-gazing career malaise best exemplified in “Girls” … or just because the economy took a disproportionate toll on recent graduates, as the report points out. In 2010, employment among young adults was at the lowest level since the government began collecting the data in 1948. Even young adults who managed to find a full-time job saw, “a greater drop in average weekly earnings” from 2007 to 2011 than any other generation.

As for the oldest generation, retirement savings are down, while health care and other costs skyrocket. Many are delaying retirement to deal, but some just don’t have a choice.

Not surprisingly, supporting family members is putting a financial strain on middle-aged adults. Of those not supporting their parents, 72% said they have money left over after meeting basic needs. But of those who are providing financial support to both parents and children of any age (not just grown), only 58% of them say they have money left over after paying for basic needs.

Does this mean that in addition to a retirement account, we need a “when my child doesn’t get a job” account now, too?

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