We Are Family: Confessions of a Sandwich Generation-er

By Fitz Villafuerte, Brighterlife.com.ph

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Filipino_Family-BL-SQI grew up in an extended family. When I was a kid, our household was mainly composed of my parents, my two younger brothers, a cousin and my grandmother. Occasionally, we’d have aunts, uncles and more cousins staying with us for several months.

We didn’t have a particularly large house, but we were the only family living in Metro Manila. That’s why relatives from both sides of the family would often stay with us whenever they’re in the city. That’s a typical Pinoy household, I know. And in spite of the (normal) chaos of sharing one roof (and just one bathroom) with 6 or more people, I can say I had a great childhood.

My father has been the sole breadwinner of our household during those years. He’s our family’s provider, as well as our relatives’ occasional source of financial support. Indeed, my father faced an overwhelming breadth of responsibilities, and from him I learned these valuable lessons on how to live life as part of the Sandwich Generation.

In our country now, more than ever, multi-generational families living under one roof is becoming the norm. Some contributing factors to this are:

  • Closely knit family culture of Filipinos
  • High costs of living independently
  • Rising incidence of single parents

 If you are part of this so-called “Sandwich Generation” then there’s no better time to act and prepare for what lies ahead than today. There’s no quick solution here, but there are fortunately, easy enough things that one can do to cope with the situation:

  • Educate yourself and your family on proper money management. Allot time to learn together and discuss the basic concepts of personal finance.
  • Creating the household budget need not be the breadwinner’s sole duty. Let everyone pitch in to the planning.
  • Brainstorm with the family on how the household can save more money. Come up with a concrete list of tasks that each member can do to spend less.
  • Set financial goals with apt rewards for the family. For example, if everyone can cooperate and bring next month’s electric bill down by at least 20%, then the family can dine out for a simple celebration.

My parents, especially my father, have missed the opportunity to prepare for a comfortable retirement because of their selfless dedication to provide for all of us. Fortunately, they’ve been able to teach us early enough the merits of saving and investing.

My brothers and I now take it upon ourselves to give our parents the same love, care and support that they’ve given us. We are also preparing for our own retirement, so that our children will no longer need to be “sandwiched.”

Together, we know we can do it because after all, we are family.

Fitz Villafuerte is a personal finance blogger at Ready to Be Rich and was one of Money Sense’s 12 Most Influential People in Personal Finance in 2011.

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