Helping the Sandwich Generation

A recent Money Advice Service report into the “sandwich generation” revealed how squeezed people who provide support for both their children and parents feel. Its conclusions highlighted the tough job carers have in modern Britain

  • One in ten people currently provide care for their children and a parent at the same time, while a quarter of adults have been a sandwich carer at some point
  • Despite two in three carers stating that their role makes them ‘feel good’, they face enormous strain, both emotionally and financially, and the situation looks set to get worse as more people live longer and school and university leavers face a bleak job market

Stuck in the middle

  • The responsibilities of caring, and the extra costs that it can entail, mean that many sandwich carers have to watch what they spend more carefully: seven in ten carers we surveyed agreed with this
  • When time pressures of being a sandwich carer mount up, the only area of ‘give’ is their work life. According to research conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research, work has been affected for more than half of the sandwich generation with a quarter having to reduce their hours, and over one in ten having to give up work entirely
  • It’s a similar story when it comes to those carers who find they have to work longer hours to keep everything together. The result is carers are stretched to such a point that they don’t feel they have enough time for themselves

The cost of being a carer

  • According to our research, half of sandwich carers spend up to £10,400 a year on caring duties, while one in eight spend even more.
  • Just over half of carers told the Money Advice Service that they are financially worse off than they were before becoming a carer – with one in six carers using their credit card or overdraft to help fund their caring activities, and almost one in four dipping into their personal savings

Action plan

  • Clearly, this is far from the ideal situation, but there are steps carers can take to improve matters. It’s important to write down where your money goes to get a complete picture of your spending. Draw up a budget plan to help you with this.
  • When using a budget planner remember to include all the extra payments you make as part of your caring role, such as the bus fare, petrol and parking costs when doing errands for your parent
  • You may be surprised at how much you spend on things that aren’t really essential or how much you could save over a year if you stretch regular purchases a little bit longer before you re-buy. This could let you pay off more of your borrowing. Use our cut-back calculator to see how much you could save
  • Check if you’re entitled to benefits or other financial help

Help and support

  • If you’ve got money queries, call the Money Advice Service on 0300 500 5000 (English language) or 0300 500 5555 (Welsh language) for free, impartial money advice.
  • There are a number of charities, such as Carers UK and local community support networks, which are worth checking out. You’d be amazed at how many other carers are out there who welcome the chance to share experiences and tips on improving the work/life balance.
  • And finally, open up to friends and family. Even a brief chat over a cup of coffee in your local café can help you to unwind.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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