Many adults face the prospect of not only putting their kids through college (and maybe supporting them afterward), but also having to look after their aging parents. In many families, that can add up to a challenging burden. With investment planning and perspective, many in today's “sandwich generation” can overcome the challenges and help keep their parents and children - along with themselves - going strong.

Here are some steps that could help you head off trouble and keep you on track with your retirement goals.

  • Teach your kids well. Young adults starting out today face financial and economic obstacles their parents never encountered. You can't fix the economy, but it's never too late to teach them about saving, smart spending and the importance of managing their money.
  • Keep saving. When it comes to planning, nothing beats the power of compounding. The sooner you start a college fund for your children while continuing to build a nest egg for yourself, the more options and opportunities you may create for you and your family down the road. And while there are scholarships and financial aid for college, there is no such thing for your retirement.
  • Talk to your parents. It’s all too easy to avoid speaking with your parents about money. It may be hard for you and them to talk about a time when they may be unable to handle their finances alone or later in life. Having a conversation with your parents about their finances is not only essential, but it can be a positive experience for everyone involved. Try taking it slow and:
    • Make your conversations as positive and productive as possible, ideally by talking with your parents face-to-face.
    • Initiate the discussion while your parents are healthy and able to participate fully.
    • Plan your talks for non-stressful times — not at holiday get-togethers.
    • Over several conversations, reassure your parents that you want to learn more about their plans and concerns about retirement. And explain that you want to understand their wishes, not impose your ideas upon them. If something happens down the road, you want to be able to step in and help.
    • And if your parents won't talk to you, maybe they'd sit down with a trusted financial advisor to discuss their current situation and their plans for the years ahead, including long-term care.

Saving enough for retirement?

Find out with My Retirement Plan, an online tool that makes it easy to see if you are on track.  After you answer a few questions, My Retirement Plan will calculate your retirement savings goal and recommend personalized next steps.

My Retirement Plan