Generation under pressure

Posted in: Family Last updated: 28 Apr 2011

Life isn’t easy for the sandwich generation. Typically in their 40s, 50s and 60s with elderly parents, children and even grandchildren, recent research shows the support and care the sandwich generation gives to family members is putting them under financial pressure, and will potentially affect their own retirement.

Subsidising family generations

In an ideal world, the late 40s, 50s and 60s should be a period where major financial burdens associated with raising children are lifted – providing an opportunity to squirrel more money away with a view to later life and retirement.

But many are living with the financial consequences of supporting elderly parents who are living longer, alongside children failing to achieve complete financial independence. Our research found the typical cost of such support is £184 per month, or £2,210 every year.

In 22 per cent of cases, the additional financial burden of subsiding family has resulted in them having to take out a loan to cope, or for 17 per cent, a second job.

For almost half those surveyed, financial responsibilities extend to grandchildren, typically amounting to £900.74 a year.  More than a third stated that financial commitments towards parents, children and grandchildren had increased compared with ten years ago.

Financial pressure points

Unsurprisingly, four in 10 people say they frequently feel stressed with so many people relying on them for help.  And 44 per cent say providing support for their family is a bit of a financial burden – invariably leaving little money at the end of a month.

But despite having the weight of this responsibility, 79 per cent say they are happy their parents and children rely on them for help.

And even more claim they would miss the contact they have with their family if they didn’t help provide for them and interact with them on a regular basis.

With the economic outlook unlikely to improve levels of financial independence for the young, and life expectancy on the rise, it’s a situation with no short term solutions.

Average family support costs

See below for a breakdown of average family support costs faced by the sandwich generation, based on our survey of 1,065 45-65 year olds.

Costs associated with parents: per year

Food – £93.20

Nursing care – £333.53

Medicines/healthcare – £30.45

Entertainment – £48.21

Utility bills – £38.49

Travel expenses – £118.17

Miscellaneous – £63.14

Total –  £725.19

Costs associated with children: per year

Run/buy a car – £296.90

Help pay off debts – £75.51

Rent/mortgage – £122.69

Pocket money – £122.69

Total – £584.89

Costs associated with grandchildren per year

Pocket money – £153.36

Investments / savings- £88.60

Presents – £235.73

Babysitting – £175.17

Travel expenses – £99.48

Run/buy car – £148.40

Total – £900.74

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.