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The Sandwich Generation | Ep 190

Jean Chatzky stops by to discuss the sandwich generation and how to balance caring for both kids and aging parents.

The goal of financial conversations with your parents is to avoid surprises. Try to establish if your parents have saved enough, if they have long term care insurance, and their debts and bills.

Jean lives in New York and her parents were living in Florida. They came down with a bad flu and Jean had to figure out how to care for them. This included getting a nurse to visit them in their home and buying them groceries online. It was the first time it hit her that her parents were going to need her help as they aged.

How To Start Financial Conversations With Your Parents

It can be difficult to start these uncomfortable conversations with our parents. Here’s Jean’s advice:

  • Use the news. If a famous person dies unexpectedly or gets sick unexpectedly bring that up in conversation and use it as a jumping off point.
  • If you have a friend who is going through this with their parents, use their experience to start the conversation.
  • The 40/70 rule. If you turn 40 or they turn 70 it’s time to have this conversation.

Keep in mind, this is not a one-time conversation. Start nibbling around the edges and just keep the conversation going over time and try to get this information slowly. Start by focusing on what they want rather than what they have.

Start by asking, do you want to stay in your own home as you age? Their answer will give you some direction as to what they are thinking and their desires. Come at these conversations as a way of figuring out how to get them as much as what they want.

Your parents don’t want to a burden. They will always have in their mind that they need to be the ones taking care of you. So it can be difficult to get information out of them, even during a crisis situation. When her parents were sick with the flu Jean learned that sometimes you just have to say “This is what I’m going to do. Is that ok?” rather than trying to have them tell you what they want you to do.

Dealing With Siblings

It’s ideal to work out ahead who will be in charge of different aspects. Who is going to be the point person for doctors? Who is going to handle the finances? Have these conversations ahead of time so there is less confusion in the moment.

What You Need To Ascertain

Financially, you’ll want to understand if they are living within their means. If they are borrowing or spending down their savings too quickly,  you’ll need to know this.

Legally, you’ll want to make sure they have all the necessary documents in place. You’ll want them to have at least:

  • Up to date will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Living will
  • Medical directives

You’ll also want to know where all of this information is kept so you can find it when you need it.

Related: ICE Binder–The Done For You Legacy Binder You’ve Been Looking For

Resources For Caregivers

AARP has tons of resources to help such as:

  • guides for what to say
  • guides to services that are available to caregivers
  • AARP does a summit roughly every 18 months for caregivers

Head over to to learn more.

Launching Your Kids

The most important thing is for kids to understand that they must live within their means. They should have a starter budget and an understanding that they need to save for the future.

Saving money is not fun, but having money saved is fun.

Avoid stepping in and doing it for them. Remind yourself how you learned these financial lessons. Often these lessons come from bad decisions. They have to make (and recover from) their own mistakes.

How to Connect With Jean

You can go to

You can also text “hermoney” to 888111 for more info on how to connect with Jean, including access to her private Facebook group.

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