Life as it is can be a little hectic. Working full time, taking care of your children and still finding the time to treat yourself can be a chore. For some, it can get even stressful if they have to support their aging parents as well.

If you are busy raising kids and caring for an aging parent, then you belong in the “Sandwich Generation.” According to a survey by BMO Nesbitt Burns, cited by Huffingtonpost.ca,  more than half of Canadians aged between 45 and 64 are feeling squeezed by the needs of their children, aging parents or both.

No matter how you slice it, balancing between your family’s needs and your aging parents’ needs can be a burden. Carefully planning a smart money strategy can help you take some of the pressure off.

Without further ado, here are five financial strategies to help you feel less “sandwiched.”

  1. Save for Your Children’s Education

If you are a sandwich generation parent, stretching your savings to provide higher education to your children can be extremely difficult. Although you might think there is still enough time to start saving, most parents don’t realize the severity of this problem until it is too late.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, is a savings plan sponsored by the Canadian government that encourages parents or other siblings to invest in their children’s post-secondary education. One of the main benefits of RESP is that the government can offer grants to eligible contributions.

Here’s how this plan works: Imagine you open an RESP account for your newborn baby and contribute $1000 into the account. Your provider will send the account and other information to the government for grant approval. If the grant is approved, then the government adds 20% of your annual contribution, up to $500 per year. Families with lower incomes receive a higher grant from the government.

When your children enroll to college, they can start taking money from the account, tax-free.

  1. Protect Your Parents in a Smart Way

Understanding your parents’ needs is the first step to protect and provide for them in a smart way. Although discussing finances with them can be difficult, helping them see that this is the best way for you and them is crucial.

Your parents might take for granted their capacity to self-function since simple tasks seem easy and automatic. But, when they lose their ability to self-function on a daily basis, they put a lot of stress on you. Long term care insurance is a smart way to protect your aging parents and to reduce future costs. With long term care insurance you will receive at-home nursing for your parents. Also, the insurance will provide for their basic needs, such as feeding, dressing or cleaning.

  1. Protect Your Income

Protecting your income is a smart money strategy, especially if you have multiple generations counting on you. There are different ways you can protect your income and your loved ones, such as life insurance, disability insurance or critical illness protection.

With almost half of Canadians being diagnosed with some form of cancer throughout their life and with the ever growing rates of heart disease, protecting your income is a wise decision if such a scenario would unfold.

  1. Look for Ways to Increase Your Monthly Cash Flow

For many, caring for both, children and aging parents can be stressful. That’s why it is a smart idea to look for new ways to increase your monthly cash flow. Look for passive income opportunities, such as selling old stuff on Amazon and eBay or affiliate marketing. Or you could stretch your mortgage’s amortization for a while to lower your payments. Although this is not a good idea usually, but in the short run can help you balance your finances while providing for your family.

  1. Care for Your Future Needs

You don’t have to be sandwiched to start planning for your future needs. Early planning can go a long way, and can take some of the financial and emotional pressure off your shoulders. Once you’ve got the basic costs of living covered, start putting money aside for your retirement or for unexpected events. Investing in a retirement account can save you takes and will keep your money from being easily spent. Not to mention that you will be able to cover your own costs of aging.

Caring for both, your children and your elderly relatives can sometimes feel like a burden. But, with the right financial planning, you can ease the financial and emotional strain.

Have you implemented any of the strategies above? What other tips do you have for the Sandwich Generation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author Bio: Ben Rogers, Web Content Manager at Assiniboine Credit Union.

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