Posts in College Planning

Stuck in the Sandwich Generation?

February 26th, 2016 Posted by Budgeting, College Planning, Family Finances, Investor Behavior, Saving, Youth and Finances 0 thoughts on “Stuck in the Sandwich Generation?”

Families can be such a source of comfort and love that many children dream about having families of their own when they grow up. As we age, of course, we learn that the benefits of family life also come with responsibilities. And just as we start thinking our children will be leaving the nest soon and some of the demands on our time and resources may lighten, we realize that our parents may need us in new ways.

A large segment of our population now belongs to what is known as the Sandwich Generation. They may feel stuck in the middle, caring for dependent children and aging parents.  On top of all that, they also need to plan for their own retirement years and potential long-term care needs.

Many members of the so-called Sandwich Generation believe in higher education and want to provide that opportunity for their children.  Others are called upon to share financial resources with a divorcing adult child or help raise a grandchild.  Furthermore, as average life expectancy increases, their aging parents may live well into their 90’s and put additional strain on already limited resources of money and time.

There is a growing trend for the in-between generation to shoulder the financial burden for both the younger and older generations.  The unintended result may be, unfortunately, that the needs and wants of these parent-children suffer in the process.  It is hard to see a way out.

Perhaps it is not as hopeless as it seems. It can be possible to balance financial responsibilities across generations. There are ways that people can potentially help their children and their parents without sabotaging their own long-term financial security and quality of life.

While there is no magic formula, a well-thought-out approach can enhance communication, build financial strength, and nurture resourcefulness in all family members. Here are some specific ideas that can help:

Plan Ahead

If you plan ahead, you may be able to lighten the load. Expenses like college tuition for your children and long-term care for your parents can be overwhelming. With the guidance of a trusted financial advisor, you can research your options and make preparations well in advance of important life events.

Request and Welcome Participation

Include your family members in the planning and preparation for their future needs and wants.  Ask them to contribute what they can, and follow up to make sure they do.

Your children could assume responsibility for a portion of their higher education expenses. The older generation should think about their eventual needs – urge them to plan ahead both financially and emotionally for their later years and the possible side effects of aging.

Nurture and Reinforce Independence

In an effort to demonstrate your love, and perhaps because you find it easier in the moment, you may do too much for your children and for your parents. The more you do for others that they can do for themselves, the more you weaken their independence.  When you do too much for a loved one, you may be implying to them that they are less capable than they really are.  It is in your best interests and theirs to nurture a spirit of self-confidence and self-sufficiency in those you love. The result could be a better life for all of you.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Kevin Cramer]

Family Wealth Planning Conversations

February 22nd, 2016 Posted by Budgeting, College Planning, Estate Planning, Family Finances, Homes and Mortgages, Life Planning, Loans and Debt, Marriage and Finances, Retirement Planning, Saving 0 thoughts on “Family Wealth Planning Conversations”

What Are Family Wealth Planning Conversations (And Why Have Them)?

Whether gathering for annual reunions, sharing childhood memories, or simply being there for one another during difficult times, family traditions nourish our most satisfying relationships. An important tradition that we at OpenCircle foster with our clients focuses on family wealth planning. We facilitate conversations that engage every family member, each of them contributing their talents and interests to achieving their collective and personal lifetime goals.

That does not mean that everyone must participate equally. As we work with families, one individual often emerges as the spokesperson or steward for the group. That’s fine … if the role is based on a mutual and deliberately planned arrangement. If it is instead based on unspoken assumptions or force of habit, a family’s wealth planning may benefit from a fresh conversation.

Even if a family is in full agreement on who is best suited to champion its interests, there’s always life’s many “what ifs.” Are others in the family adequately prepared to assume the stewardship role when and if it is required of them? Might they have unexpressed questions or concerns that are best addressed well before that day may arrive? Carving out time to hold candid conversations is where it all begins.

How We Guide Our Clients in Family Conversations

To launch a family wealth planning conversation with a client, we invite them and their family to meet with us at their convenience. (A face-to-face meeting is optimal, but we can harness technology to hold a meeting online if necessary.) We guide them in exploring key considerations such as:

  • How would each of them define their roles in their family’s wealth planning?
  • Are all of them satisfied with their current roles?
  • Do all family members have the essential information, should they be required to increase their participation? (For example, do they know how to reach us?)
  • Are there other questions, suggestions or family wealth dynamics they would like to explore, either immediately or over time?
  • How can we best assist each of them in these and other areas?

We help families find broader and deeper perspective in this area of their lives. Even though specific family members may never have joined us in prior meetings, we encourage them to be included at this time. They may well discover insights about one another that could strengthen both their financial conversations as well as their overall family dynamics.

Regardless of who may be “in charge” of a family’s wealth, every individual is equally dependent on the outcome of the efforts. Enabling a forum for everyone’s voice to be heard is another way OpenCircle helps our clients achieve their greatest life goals, keeping their family’s wealth fresh and meaningful over time. If you would like more information, please give us a call at 203-985-0448.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Luke Lehrfeld]