Feeling Sandwiched?

Here are some helpful tips and resources for managing finances when you're taking care of multiple generations.

For members of the "sandwich generation," many personal and practical challenges present themselves as uncharted territory. In addition to funding healthcare costs for their own family, many "sandwichers" are saving for their children's college tuition and caring for aging parents, including managing health-related concerns and the cost of healthcare.

If you're in this position, you're not alone. That's why advance planning is a strong ally when preparing for what may lie ahead. Here are just a handful of things you can do:

For Your Parents

  • Start the Conversation: Though it might be difficult, have ongoing conversations with your parents about their finances before something serious like a medical or financial emergency occurs.
  • Map Out a Budget: Draw up a simple budget that lists their basic living costs, including housing, food, transportation and insurance. Compare these with steady income sources available to them, such as Social Security, and annuities and pensions, if any.
  • Get Healthcare Details: Learn specific information about their health and long-term-care insurance, and any other resources available to them, to determine whether they're able to contribute to their healthcare expenses. Over time, they may rely even more on your support, so consider having discussions about things like establishing a healthcare proxy and a living will.
  • Talk to a Pro: An elder care attorney can coordinate with professionals from financial, health and legal areas to help navigate and address issues for older adults – ranging from making sure an estate plan is in place, to protecting personal assets, to guardianship and more.

For Your Children

  • Talk College: If you have teenage children, talk with them about college to get an idea of where they may be interested in going. Exploring options that meet their potential wants and needs will give you a clearer idea of costs and what might fit within your budget.
  • Keep on Saving: Learn about college savings vehicles. The 529 Plan, a tax-advantaged savings plan sponsored by states, state agencies or educational institutions, is designed to encourage saving for future education costs. The Coverdell Education Savings Account is a federally sponsored, tax-advantaged trust or custodial account set up to pay for qualified education expenses.
  • Research Payment Strategies: Find out whether your children qualify for financial aid, and look into the possibility of scholarships. Numerous resources are available to research this, including The College Board, which is known for college-readiness testing, but also has a section dedicated to scholarship opportunities.

Don't Ignore Your Needs

Throughout this process, keep sight of your own financial future. Continue to contribute as much as possible to your employer-sponsored retirement plan. If your employer offers a company match, take full advantage of it by contributing at least enough to receive the full match. Building your retirement savings increases the potential for tax-deferred growth and strengthens your effort to work toward financial security in retirement.

Also, keep track of your personal budget and, if possible, put aside money for an emergency fund in case you need to cover unforeseen costs. To learn more, call your local Mutual of America Regional Office representative today.

You should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the variable annuity contract and the underlying investment funds carefully before investing. This and other information is contained in the contract prospectus or brochure and underlying funds prospectuses and summary prospectuses, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-468-3785 or visiting mutualofamerica.com. Read them carefully before investing.

Mutual of America's group and individual retirement products are variable annuity contracts and are suitable for long-term investing, particularly for retirement savings. The value of a variable annuity contract will fluctuate depending on the performance of the Separate Account investment options you choose. Upon redemption, you could receive more or less than the principal amount invested. A variable annuity contract provides no additional tax-deferred treatment of benefits beyond the treatment provided to any qualified retirement plan or IRA by applicable tax law. You should consider a variable annuity contract's other features before making a decision.

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