This is the Sandwich Generation: people in their 40s and 50s caught between the demands of aging parents and dependent children. Caring for two generations at once can create new financial pressure on your household — so here’s how to lighten your load.
The financial juggling act
Running a household is tough enough on its own. You’ve got bills and school fees to pay, and groceries to buy — not to mention repayments on the home and car. So how do you manage to keep your head above water when you’re taking care of children and parents at the same time?
As always, the trick is striking the right balance between your income and your spending. Start by making a list of your outgoing expenses, including the costs of care for both your parents and your children.
When working out a realistic budget to cover you and your family, remember that it’s more than just your day-to-day costs. If you are a primary carer, you may be taking time off work to accompany your dependents to their doctor’s appointments and other commitments — be sure to factor any loss of income into your budget planning as well.
Making the most of family benefits
The good news is, there is a wide range of benefits and allowances to help ease the financial burden of looking after your loved ones. And you may be entitled to more than you’re currently receiving — so it’s worth doing a little research to make sure you’re not missing out on what you deserve.
Providing for your parents
First, make sure that your parents are receiving all the benefits that they are eligible for, such as the Age Pension, Pharmaceutical Allowance and Seniors Card discounts. If they’re still living at home, they may also be eligible for a range of subsidised in-home care services — see myagedcare.gov.au to find out more.
Then check if you’re able to claim any benefits yourself — particularly if you have a parent living with you. For example, the Carer Payment and Carer Allowance give ongoing financial support to people who are unable to work full-time because of their care role. In addition, the Carer Supplement is a lump sum payment to offset some of the costs of care.
If your parents have assets, then it can be worth finding out whether they can be structured differently to maximise their Age Care benefits and pension eligibility. However, this can be complex and will be different for everyone, so be sure to seek professional help.
Caring for your children
The Family Tax Benefit and the Parenting Payment can provide you with added income to help cover the costs of raising your children. And while your children are still young, you may be eligible for the Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate, or Child Care Fee Assistance to support you through work, training or study.
If your children are older and considering their study options, they may be able to apply for an Austudy allowance — so they can cover their own costs throughout their education.
Getting professional advice
It’s not easy trying to figure out the best financial options for your family on your own. To find out more about how to get on top of your finances as a caregiver, speak to the experts at Odyssey Financial Services.