Being a part of the “sandwich” generation is a balancing act. Before you start focusing on how best to help your children and parents, pay close attention to your own situation. Below are some tips that you might find beneficial.
Let's start with your children
- Financial literacy
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your children is teach them some finance basics. Focus on the most relevant topics for your children; bank accounts, credit cards, car loans and student loans are great topics to explore. Speak with your wealth advisor for some tips.
Providing your child(ren) with an allowance, or better yet, having them get a job, is great way to teach children about money. Having them assume responsibility for some of their expenses will teach them the value of money, the difference between a need and a want and the lesson of deferred gratification.
An RESP is an excellent tool to help save for your children’s post secondary education. With an RESP, the government provides a grant of 20% up to $500 per year for each dollar you contribute to the plan (up to the end of the year in which your children turn 17 years of age). The lifetime contribution limit to a plan is $50,000 per beneficiary and the lifetime grant limit is $7,200. Speak to your wealth advisor about starting an RESP if you haven’t already done so.
- Accumulate RRSP contribution room
Many teens start working part time. If your child earns an annual income below the basic personal exemption ($12,298 for 2020), they may not need to file a tax return. Even though it may not be required, it can benefit them in the long run to file a return since they will start accumulating RRSP contribution room. Since accumulated RRSP contribution room can be carried forward, your child can potentially make larger RRSP contributions in the future when they enter the workforce full time.
- TFSA for adult children
It may not seem like it, but when your child reaches 18 years of age, they are considered an adult. Regardless of the debate of whether they are or are not an adult, if you have the resources available, funding a TFSA for your child is an excellent way to support them. You can’t technically make a deposit in your child’s TFSA account, so your child will need to open an account on their own. From there, you can gift them funds to deposit into the TFSA. The funds in the TFSA will grow tax-free and, if they start at age 18, the potential for compounded, tax-free growth is powerful.
What about your parents?
- Open communication
It may seem odd to have a financial discussion with your parents at first but being open is essential. Until you understand their situation, you aren’t really equipped to help. Sit down with your parents and have a chat about their needs, goals and resources.
- Financial inventory
Gain an understanding of your parents’ financial situation – assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Also, know where important documents are kept so you can access them easily if needed.
- Living arrangements
Your parents may be at the point in their lives where they would like to downsize. Perhaps they are determined to stay where they are. Maybe they want to move to a retirement community. Maybe they want to move in with you – gulp. Discuss with your parents what they would like and look at potential options with them.
- Estate planning
Much like having your own will and POAs drafted, it is crucial that your parents do the same. If they already have these documents in place, have them review the documents to ensure they are still relevant and reflect their wishes. Discuss what their wishes would be should they not be able to manage their own affairs. Know where these important documents are kept – you’ll have enough to worry about if they’re ever needed and locating them shouldn’t be one of the worries.
Create or review your wealth plan
Being part of the sandwich generation has its challenges. Between managing the finances of your aging parents and your children, as well as your own, you may find yourself overwhelmed at times. Meeting with a wealth advisor to review these tips may help alleviate some of the stresses you face.
Don’t have a wealth plan yet? Learn more about Scotia Wealth Management and how we can help you find the financial solutions that are right for you.
This article originally appeared as part of the Scotia Wealth Management's Enriched Thinking library. Read the full piece here.