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SafeMoney.com Blog

gen xers sandwiched between multiple priorities

“The Breakfast Club” was a classic coming-of-age film. The stars of the movie? Gen X misfits dreaming of their futures during a fateful day-long detention in their high school library.

What they couldn’t have foreseen is that many Gen Xers would grow up to be responsible not only for their own well-being, but for the care and livelihood of their parents and their grown children as well.

So, if a sequel about Gen Xers was made today, it might be called “The Breakfast Sandwich Club.” And why? Many members of Gen X struggle to plan for their own futures while facing the financial impact of caring for the generations before and after them.

Survey Paints a Startling Picture

Balancing the competing priorities of financial support for family members means that Gen Xers are having a hard time with their own financial wellbeing. Researchers found that especially applied to building up both their emergency funds and retirement savings, according to a new survey released by PNC Financial Services.

“The survey revealed that current members of the sandwich generation, as well as those we call ‘half sandwich’ – folks caring for either children or elderly parents, but not both – are under financial stress. They’re struggling to save for their own needs,” according to Rich Ramassini, a director at PNC Investments.

“Adding the demands associated with financially supporting children and/or elderly family members now or in the future, paints a very grim picture for this demographic unless they take immediate action.”

PNC says it commissioned the survey to understand how respondents, who were between the ages of 36 to 60, handle financial decisions and any related stress involving investing and retirement.

Those interviewed were either the main financial decision-makers or they shared financial decision-making duties in their household, PNC explained.

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retirement withdrawal plan americans need

Life in the work lane means keeping your nose to the career grindstone. You work hard over many years, balancing work and family while accruing a comfortable nest egg for your retirement.  

Along the way, you probably benefited from the discipline and focus that comes from working with a financial advisor. Their guidance was helpful in growing your portfolio and other assets to where they are now.

This life stage is called the “accumulation phase,” and its long-term priority is with the growth of your financial assets. Yet it’s just as important to plan for the backend, or when you start drawing on your nest egg for retirement income.

After all, life changes quite a bit when you retire. Your sources of income will change once you hit the golden years, whether you were a full-time executive, you ran your own business, you worked in a government capacity, or you steadily climbed the ranks as a salaried employee. And not only that.

There is also the matter of “distributions” from your portfolio. Withdrawals have tax implications, especially if money is taken from accounts or vehicles that had special tax treatment as you accumulated funds within them.

And don’t forget the question of longevity, which poses the potentially costly risk of outliving your retirement money. With the numbers of people living to their 90s, and even to 100-and-beyond, increasing by the year, there runs the possibility of a nest egg being mismanaged for long-term income needs.

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