Whether you’re juggling responsibilities as a member of the sandwich generation, taking on a substantial amount of work at home as part of the growing single population, or finding your niche in the workplace as one of multiple generations working together — changing family and workplace dynamics can bring many challenges.
The difficulty of living in the sandwich generation is one that’s deeply familiar to millions of people between 40 and 60, who are caring for elderly relatives while still raising children — or helping young adult children who are struggling in today’s economy. Nearly one in four American families today provides some form of caregiving,1 spending about 20 hours a week on elder care.
It’s difficult to pinpoint how much these caregivers spend, but one study estimates that those making $38,000 per year may spend nearly $200 per month on elder care, such as medicine, transportation and groceries.2
If you are facing these challenges, one of the most difficult aspects of the problem is the sense that you are dealing with these problems alone, with no resources to support you. But there are numerous things that employers can do for their sandwich generation employees, which can help you stay productive at work and save for your own retirement while juggling competing demands on your finances.
As people marry later and divorce more frequently, one of the most prevalent living arrangements in modern America is living alone. About one-third of all U.S. households now have just one resident, with higher numbers in cities such as Seattle (42%), San Francisco (39.7%), Denver (40.4%), and Cleveland (39.9%).3
If you live alone, you face challenges that others do not. Everything falls on your shoulders, with no one to divide up chores and share expenses.
There’s also an impact for your long-term plans. Besides taking on the burden of saving for retirement by yourself, you must also plan for retirement expenses that someone in a multi-person household may not face since other members of the household can pitch in and help — such as hiring a handyman for chores or a home health aide in the event of an illness. In other words, living alone takes a lot of resources and planning.
If you have looked around your workplace recently, you have probably noticed that your coworkers are very diverse in terms of age.
Today, there are four distinct generations in the workforce4:
Employers are learning that people in each group have distinct preferences and learning styles, particularly when it comes to retirement. No matter which generation you belong to, seek out the information that’s right for you. You may prefer to learn about retirement programs and other company benefits in classroom settings; in one-on-one, face-to-face meetings; online; or in personalized messages on your mobile phone. In each case, seek out the information that best meets your financial needs and helps ensure that you are taking the right steps to address your financial needs at every stage of your life.
1 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2010. The U.S. Well-Being Index.
2 Lynn Feinberg, Susan C. Reinhard, Ari Houser, Rita Choula, "Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update — The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving," AARP Public Policy Institute.
3 The New Yorker, April 16, 2012; Live Alone, You’re Not alone, CBS May 20, 2012; NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg.
4 American generations through the years, May 5, 2011. http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2011/05/living/infographic.boomer/index.html
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