I recently had the opportunity to attend a yoga class on the Front Range with my mother, and across the Pacific Ocean with my daughter. I was sandwiched in the middle.
I watched my mom, who throughout life has pursued health, willing to try something new. Then, I worked out alongside my lithe, flexible daughter intent on holding her Salamba Sirsasana pose. It was fun and inspiring to be in the middle of two beautiful women, where the value of health has been passed through our family lineage.
You may have heard of the "sandwich generation" from the financial perspective. Now, we have added "club sandwich" to the menu to describe the financial implications of living longer and having several generations with monetary ties to each other. We need to consider the principles and ideals we want to incorporate, as well as the many corollaries that go into the making of our financial sandwich.
As we see more and more, families have continuous threads of financial filament that run through their fabric of existence. If you want to create a durable, sustainable, beautiful tapestry, there are several tools to bring to the table.
First, we need to communicate. Generationally, discussions about money can be positive and productive. It starts with our little ones. We have all said it - "No, we can't afford that" - as a child laments alongside us at the store. Yet they see us turn around and put other items in the cart. Instead of a mixed message, we want to plant seeds of empowerment.
We have choices over our financial decisions and we need to look how and what we are communicating. Language such as, "No, we are not buying that today because we are choosing to use our money for___."
Discussion opportunities with our elder generation also abound. What do you want life to look like as you move into this next stage? What are your expectations of us from the financial side? Will you need financial assistance?
How can we open up discussions about legacy planning and generational wealth transfer? How do we properly prepare beneficiaries for the responsibilities and opportunities of inheritances?
Secondly, plan, plan, plan. Deo volente - God willing. We don't know what will happen by the end of today, let alone 10, 30 or 50 years from now. However, we need to decide which way we are headed and make course corrections along the way to keep our trajectory on track.
We have heard the preflight safety advice to "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." What do you need to or want to do to assist other family members in a healthy way? How do we create interdependent lives with those who are important to us, versus enabling financial behavior that is destructive?
Lastly, live in financial intentionality. Money passes through our lives too quickly. You can scan your phone, or press a button and never even see a dollar leave your hand.
We need to consider the "opportunity cost." We see the cost of huge consumer debt, bankruptcies, social injustice around the world and Wall Street greed. We need to bring integrity and intent back to our wallets - seeking to have our finances reflect what we value most in life.
My blessings abound to be part of a family that is committed to the process of financial health. We are seeking ways to find the balance, focus on the positive, set goals, have fun, pursue communication and make course corrections.
We embrace the opportunity to extend grace and forgiveness along the way. In this season of gratitude and giving - wrap your hands and your mind around your family financial sandwich, and may you do the same.
- Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner and Financial Life Planner®. Her office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. She helps her clients in creating healthy financial lives. Visit her at www.howardfinancialresources.com or call 927-3909.