Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Sandwich Generation Financial Decisions Filled with Emotion

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Being caught in the middle, a baby boomer or a member of the sandwich generation, chances are you constantly find yourself battling …yourself.  When money is squeezed, as it is for many of us today, what’s the right thing to do?  It’s not an easy choice.

 So I had to laugh at the simplicity of a sub-headline from a press release today from Allianz“keep you retirement intact by separating emotion from finance.” You’ve got to be kidding.  I can only assume it was written by someone who has never faced the emotion of making a financial choice between their family and their own financial future.  

 You can’t separate the emotion.

 The issue is how to balance the emotion and understand the choices you make and the impact on your financial future.  Then make the decision you can live with. The one that let’s you look in the mirror and say “this is a decision I can live with.” Then you make the choice to work longer, scale back your lifestyle.

 There’s a TV commercial from the credit card companies that portrays a woman who quits work to care for her ailing mother.  She’s stopped working and can’t pay her credit card bills, so the message is that she should call her card company and work out an alternative payment plan.  From a personal financial perspective she probably made the wrong choice, but from a human perspective she made the choice she can live with.  You can’t separate the emotion from the decision.

 As a longtime, long-distance caregiver, I made some decisions that weren’t financially the “best” but were absolutely the right decision for me and my family.  Then I made adjustments in other parts of my life and my expectations to meet those values.

 You can’t separate the emotion – the best thing you can do is acknowledge it and understand the tradeoffs you are making. Allianz is right that financial advisors should be asking about your values as they work with you to make financial decisions and tradeoffs.  And, that discussion is filled with emotions.

 I’ve been doing a series of presentations about Money in the Middle – The Boomer Dilemma. The recession has moved us from a “have it all” mentality to a “making wise choices” view of the world.  And that shift is filled with emotion.  Recognizing and embracing the emotion and then making adjustments to reflect the decision is the new path for the sandwich generation.

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Written by Laura Rossman

June 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm

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