Saving for Retirement, Emergencies a Struggle for Sandwich Generation

The strain of supporting other family members financially is taking a toll, PNC learned in a survey.

Members of the sandwich generation, those between the ages of 36 and 60, are hard pressed to save for retirement or emergencies, primarily due to the strain of supporting other family members, according to a survey by PNC Financial Services Group.

Thirty-eight percent do not have an emergency savings fund, 31% have an emergency fund that would last less than six months, 32% have less than $25,000 saved for retirement and more than half have $100,000 or less saved for retirement. Their average retirement savings is $170,346. Eight percent say they are financially assisting their parents or elderly family members as well as children. Forty-five percent are financially supporting one or the other, and 47% have no financial obligations to others.

Twenty-five percent are supporting children under the age of 18. Seventeen percent are supporting children older than that, and 16% are caring for parents or elderly family members. Another 32% expect to be financially assisting their parents or elderly family members within the next five years, but only 20% have planned for those expenses.

Only 16% of the sandwich generation have a formal financial plan, but 51% have an informal plan.

“Our survey revealed that many members (29%) of the sandwich generation would prefer to bury their heads in the sand and avoid thinking about their finances,” says Rich Ramassini, director of strategy and sales performance for PNC Investments. “The reality is that the only way to improve your financial situation is to be honest with yourself and commit to making the necessary changes required to prepare for the future. We can see that the sandwich generation is struggling to save for their own needs. When you add in the demands associated with financially supporting children and/or elderly family members now or in the future, it paints a very grim picture for this demographic’s future unless they take immediate action.”

Chadwick Martin Bailey designed the online survey for PNC, which conducted it last August.