Are you part of the Sandwich Generation?

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Are you a woman who belongs to the sandwich generation? That doesn’t mean that you fall into a generation of women who share an extreme fondness of picnics, but instead, something all the more serious. While we are a nation or sarnie lovers, there are of course much bigger anxieties facing Brits and they are not at all related to smell of freshly baked bread or the recipe for the perfect mayonnaise.

What is the sandwich generation?

While this term has been used to describe a generation of women in their 30s and 40s who are ‘sandwiched’ between raising children and taking care of elderly parents, the definition, and age of this demographic has changed alongside the UK’s socio-economic situation.

The term now is commonly used to describe people, often women, who are often under both financial and time pressure. Usually aged between forty and sixty, this generation of women are often raising children and are caring for elderly parents in some way, and may be juggling their career alongside of all of it.

Do you provide care to more than one generation?

Women are waiting until later in life to have children, and simultaneously, the life expectancy of their parent’s generation is increasing. This generation, both male and female, are likely to be working, pressed for time, under financial pressure and facing a period of countless financial decisions; from retirement planning to the cost of long-term care, the cost of school and university fees to family holidays as well as dealing with day to day issues .

This continual juggling act has left the female sandwich generation are generally doubtful about their ability to retire with a comfortable lifestyle, with only 19% feeling very or extremely confident.

Who is caring for you?

53% of women aged 40 - 59 believe they will have to rely on their partner for financial support in retirement as they haven’t saved enough, while a shocking 45% don’t have a retirement action plan at all. According to the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2016, women have less than half the pension savings of males. Although they are entitled to the same amount as men, they are less likely to have built up the necessary National Insurance contributions needed to receive it.

The triple whammy

Given the challenges women may face during their lifetimes, namely, lower private pension savings, achieving full National Insurance contributions and a gender pay gap, it comes as no surprise that women’s retirement incomes are considerably lower than those for males. The more disruptive working lives of women, cutting hours to care for their children and elderly parents, generally put them at a disadvantage and means their salaries lag men’s by a fifth.

While shorter hours may result in more time to raise a family, it does mean less take-home pay which ultimately can reduce the amount available to save in a pension. The key thing to remember is that it’s never too early to start saving, but leaving it too late might leave you at a disadvantage once the kids and flown the nest and your career has been put on the back burner.

Top 5 pension tips to get your savings back on track:

  1. Ask for a New State Pension statement and find out when it’s payable. Ring 0345 3000 168 or go online to the Gov.UK website 
  2. You need 35 years of full national Insurance contributions to get the full State pension of £155.65 a week (2016/17). You may have breaks in your National Insurance record. Ask HMRC for a record and think about paying voluntary National Insurance Contributions to top up your State pension before your State Pension Age.
  3. If you are automatically enrolled into your employer’s pension scheme you will benefit from tax relief on your own contributions and your employer’s contribution, helping you to build up pension savings faster.
  4. You may have pension savings with different employers or taken out a personal pension. Keep track of all your pension savings and stay in touch with your pension provider. If you have lost your pensions, use the government’s tracing service.  A good way of keeping track of your pension plans is to transfer them and keep them together under one roof. This is also known as consolidation.
  5. Think about using a financial adviser to help you put together a retirement plan.