Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Archive for May 2009

AARP Holds Free Job Webinar for Boomers and Seniors

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Whether you are a baby boomer and caught in the middle and out of work or retired ready to return to the workforce, you might want to check in at the free AARP webinar on June 11.  AARP says the free webinar will help you:

  • create an effective job-serarch strategy
  • mange your job hunt, finance and health and,
  • connect with others to get the support you need

You can download a free checklist  after the AARP webinar with tips and resources, or the checklist is available here.

The webinar is June 11 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m EDT.  Information here on the webinar and how to sign up.  It is open to all — AARP members and non-members.

It is good to see the organization stepping up and helping older workers with tools to  find work or return to work.  Nothing makes life in the middle more difficult than the financial pressure of job loss while at the same time you may be called on to assist those older and younger.

With more of us planning on working longer to rebuild savings, learning the new tools available as part of the job search will be extremely helpful.  After all, if you learn just one new thing, it may be THE thing that gets you the next job.


Written by Laura Rossman

May 28, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Work

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Jitterbug Cell Phone For Seniors Recalled

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall on Jitterbug cell phones – the popular for senior, easy to use cell phone.  The problem has to do with access to 911 service in some areas and there is a quick software fix. The recalled cell phones that are in a no-service area and display an “out of range, try again later” message could fail to connect to emergency 911. If you are one of the 160,000 consumers impacted and have not been contacted, contact Samsung toll-free at (866) 304-4980 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, and on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT, or visit the firm’s Web site at

 This cell phone is an example of the new kinds of technology being created to serve the senior market.  It’s a simple phone that doesn’t have all the fancy features most cell phones do.  It just makes calls, and includes a service that connects the caller to an operator who can make calls for them.  

 It can be a great solution for those who want access and safety/peace of mind that comes with having a cell phone, but a lower cost and ease of use.  It is targeted to people who will use it for a limited period of time (30-60 minutes per month).  It can be a smart buy for the right situation.

 Here’s a link to the Consumer Product Safety recall notice.

 Here’s a place to buy the Jitterbug phone.

Written by Laura Rossman

May 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Is being a Caregiver the Right Decision for You?

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Ask any caregiver:  Caregiving is hard work.   Sometimes we take on responsibilities that really aren’t a good fit for our skills, personality or lifestyle…thinking it’s the “right” thing to do when it’s probably a bad decision for ourselves and for our caregiver.  mMany baby boomers are facing this decision as their parents age.

 “Be realistic.  Put it down on paper.  There are 24 hours in the day; what’s filled now, what will be filled with caregiving, what’s left for you?”  That is the advice of Mary Alexander, director of Business Relationships for HomeInstead Senior Care.  It’s great advice – especially if there are other family members involved.  Everyone is ready to help, but what’s realistic with the busy lives we lead?  We over commit ,fall short and end up in sibling battles over who is doing or not doing what.

 “I want to care about my Mom, not necessarily care for my Mom,” she said.   I think it’s an important distinction.  The toll it can take on your health and well-being over time can threaten your health.  I’ve seen it happen often in older couples, where the caregiver becomes so worn down and overwhelmed they too soon need care.

 Finding the right caregiver is not easy.  It often involves trial and error, finding a good personality match is critical for the person being cared for, and also for the peace of mind of family members.  

 Be an informed consumer when you look for care.  It’s not unlike looking for childcare when your children were young.  Ask for referrals from people who you trust/  if you choose a professional agency make sure that they have all the right background checks and paperwork with the agency and the training to handle your loved one’s needs.

  There are lots of home care agencies.  Most are franchises so you can check the individual office with BBB for consumer complaints.  HomeInstead has consumer resources on their site that you might want to check out.  

 If you choose to go with an independent caregiver you may pay less and you will have more responsibility including finding someone to fill in when the caregiver is not available as well as background checks paperwork for employee related issues like Social Security. 

 There are great resources available from the governmentabout caregiving and how to select a caregiver.  Or try this government site on caregiver resources.

 No matter what route you take in providing care, it can be stressful. Even long-distance caregiveing comes with stress, worry and guilt. Check out the stress test at  It’s just 20 questions.  If you are sharing caregiving with family members, forward it on to them.  It might be a great starting point to a conversation about how you are all feeling about caregiving responsibilities and whether you should be seeking some help.

Next we’ll look at what care costs and how to pay for it.

Written by Laura Rossman

May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

A Silver Lining in Working Longer

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If you’re feeling a bit low about the prospect of working a bit longer, there’s good news from a new British study.  Working a few years longer can help keep the onset of Alzheimer’s at bay.  

 Researchers found that a year of work was associated with about a six-week delay in Alzheimer’s.   “The intellectual stimulation that older people gain from the workplace may prevent a decline in mental abilities, thus keeping people above the threshold for dementia for longer,” said Simon Lovestone, one of the paper’s co-authors, in a press statement.

 While more research is needed to confirm the link between working and the delayed onset of Alzheimer’s, it’s a sign that continuing to keep our brain active has benefits as we age.  It is the reason that brain fitness and brain games from Sudoku to computer games are growing in popularity.

 The research from King’s College in London was based on data from 1300 people with dementia.

Written by Laura Rossman

May 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Health Care

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Baby Boomers Retirement Threshhold Turns Into Wide Front Porch

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Baby boomers pull up a chair on the front porch.  Enjoy the view.  Thanks to the recession, retirement for baby boomers is now not only a longer way off, but is probably going to look and feel different than you thought.

 A new study from Pew Research calls those baby boomers 50-64 the “threshold” generation and says they are the hardest hit by the current economy.  Funding for their retirement has evaporated:  Their 401 k’s down as much as 40%, housing values dissolved and health care costs continue to increase.

 “Working longer does not mean working forever…the goal should be to move the average retirement age from 63 to 66,”according to Alice Munnell and Steve Sass in “Working Longer: The solution to the Retirement Income Challenge.”

 The Pew Research also showed that the older generation is fairing better in this recession than the baby boomers.  Thanks to pension plans, Medicare and more conservative investments the recessions has generally not hit their lifestyle as dramatically as it has baby boomers.

 So if your view of retirement has changed, the good news is that working a few more years, waiting to take Social Security until your normal retirement age, paying off your debt and continuing to contribute to retirement plans can still lead you to the retirement lifestyle you want –maybe just a few years later.  We call it Retirement Reset and more boomers are catching on that by readjusting their expectations they can have a meaningful and productive retirement.

Baby Boomers Retirement Dreams Delayed

Baby Boomers Retirement Dreams Delayed

Written by Laura Rossman

May 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Giving Kids Easy Access to Parent’s Credit is Just Wrong

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 In an economy like this, more of us find it necessary to say “no” when our kids say “I want.”  That’s not necessarily a bad thing…for either generation.  Learning fiscal responsibility as a teen can create for a more financially responsible adult. 

Our financial futures are more interwoven than ever. And I think we are seeing a heightened recognition that we do need to curb our consumer appetites to build up retirement savings.  As I said to a Boomer marketing group last week,   There is more evidence every day that we have been shaken into awareness that the economy is different and so must be our spending decisions.

 So I found it the announcement of a new website outrageous and not-with-the-times. 

The name says it all – The press release says it’s an “innovative online youth payment system that gives teens the freedom to shop online and parents the control over these purchases — all in a simple, automated system that keeps credit card numbers and other personal information safe and secure.”  The company says 40% of teenagers don’t buy online because they don’t have a credit card.

 I don’t think that is a bad thing.

 As the parent of avid gamer, I purchased many games over the years – and I know the dollars mount up rapidly.   Video games actually provided a way to talk about how to make choices between “need” and “want” that stick with him as a young adult figuring out how to  stretch his paycheck.

 Giving kids access to a virtual giant wish-list and pushing the financial decision making to the parents is just wrong.  It would be better to have the teen understand the limits up front and begin to make financial decisions and choices?  And is it so bad that they can’t buy instantaneously and may actually have to save the cash to buy it on their own?

Teen Years a Time to Build Financial Fundamentals

Teen Years a Time to Build Financial Fundamentals

So baby-boomers — and Gen Xers too — if your child or grandchild comes up with a great new way to get you to pay online for their shopping – rather than signing up for the site – sign up for the chance to talk with them about financial responsibility.








 A recent survey found that 95% of respondents aid “financial management should be a standard part of the education curriculum in high school.”  And that was across all generations –even the younger generations agree.

 So if your child or grandchild comes up with a great new way to get you to pay online for their shopping – rather than signing up for the site – sign up for the chance to talk about financial responsibility.

Written by Laura Rossman

May 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Newlyweds: Talk about money with your honey now

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It is wedding season.   I just returned from a wonderful wedding in Florida.  Simple ceremony surrounded by friends and family on the beach– – fitting for the times.  

 The reception and after, found many of us  “in the middle” sharing worries about work, aging parents, when to take social Security, wondering if retirement will ever be, and sharing tips on cutting expenses.

 Got a few words of advice for the soon to be married?  I do.

 1. Keep the wedding simple and the costs down.  Unless you’ve got a bucket of gold somewhere, give your parents and/or your own pocketbook a break. Maybe this is the time Grandma or Grandpa can help out.  Celebrate, select a few things that have great meaning and enjoy the day. But, don’t pile bills onto your family or yourself. Remember if it’s a destination wedding, turn out will be smaller as more people experience pinched budgets.  

 2.  Talk about money with your honey.   So many of us walk into a committed relationship without really understanding what the other is bringing in debt, savings and attitude.   Save yourself surprises down the road by talking about money and how you will handle it together.

 3.  What’s yours, what’s mine, what’s ours?  These days coming into a marriage with a pile of debt for school is not unusual.  Have a plan for how and who will be paying down that debt.  How will it impact your plans to buy a home?  Start a family, blend families from a previous marriage?  Begin retirement savings?

 4. What about Mom and Dad?  How about brothers and sisters?  If it’s a second marriage, do you have commitments to previous in-laws?  Do you share expectations about caring for and helping out family members?  Odds are pretty good that one of you will be asked to step up to help with time and or money.  It won’t be easy but better to know where you are each coming from.

5.  Save now.  Really.  We all need to recognize that we will have more personal responsibility for our financial future and retirement.  the reports on the state of Medicare and Social Security released should make that clear.  so don’t put off saving.  Make it a habit together now.

 So what would you do if you were starting out anew (younger and older newlyweds)?

Written by Laura Rossman

May 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm