What do you do when you find yourself caring for an elderly parent while trying to provide for yourself and your family? It’s a question being asked more & more as our population ages, as corporate careers become less certain, and pension & retirement funds dwindle or disappear. Welcome to the Sandwich Generation, where we’re sandwiched between aging parents who need our help and our own children.
Hope and help are here, as you’ll discover on the next Power Up Living show. We’re talking with Gillian Pritchett to discover How Can a Caring Caregiver Take Care of Their Own Financial Situation? Click here to learn more & join us for this important conversation. ~KG
~ By Gillian Pritchett
When you become a caregiver to an elderly parent, doctors and social workers will tell you many things – few of them will be realistic and none of them will concern your financial situation – neither your current financial situation nor your future financial situation. They’ll tell you – nay, admonish you – to take care of yourself, your health, your emotions. They’ll tell you to maintain your social contacts, to connect with other carers. You’ll of course have to constantly remind them you’re 24/7, possibly with no friends or family to provide support – be it practical or financial or even emotional. They’ll shrug their shoulders. They’ll tell you you’ll have to pay for a carer to replace you so you can get out. You’ll remind them you’re not working and that paid carers don’t come cheap, even though care firms pay them peanuts. And of course you can’t go to work. What are your options ? State benefits ? Hmmm – in the UK you’ll discover that Carers Allowance will reduce any benefits the cared for person receives if you’re living with them, so as a household you may even be financially worse off.
It costs money to be a carer unless you want to become unhealthy, unhappy and extremely isolated. You start to draw on savings and then when they dwindle to nothing, you wheel in the credit card or cards. But … you’re no longer young. Suddenly it hits you: You have totally and utterly screwed up.
You never thought for one single second about the financial consequences of being a carer. Suddenly Miss Corporate no longer has the executive home, the fancy car, the healthy bank balance. She lives at home with mum or dad, drives the old family car and has no savings. For the first time she has debts. That cold shower is becoming a freezing cold shower – you are not so young anymore and you now have no savings to support you when you get old. If you live in your parent’s home and they end up in a nursing home, it will have to be sold so you end up homeless. Horror-struck, you realise you are in a very,very bad situation.
But of course you may have family who are going to pay the bills. That’s terrific – lucky you! But wait… not so fast. This sounds great – they pay for you to take care of mum (or dad); they give you an allowance, they pay for respite care. But… you’re not working so you’re no longer paying into a pension fund, so what happens when you get old? What happens if these family members have a redundancy or a serious health situation, and suddenly they can’t subsidise and you have to raid your savings and burden the credit card?
Unless you’re rich and living off of the interest you earn on your money, have an income from a real estate portfolio or you have a seriously well off parent who plans to leave everything to you, then I’m sorry, but you’re not in a good place financially.
So.. what’s the solution? Obviously to have an independent income then you’re not dependent on anyone and you have something for later – for when you’re no longer a carer. Because you won’t be going back to corporate – you’ll have been out for too long. Sorry but no- you won’t be going back to corporate.
But where will you get an income from if you’re stuck at home? If you have excellent English there are schools that will hire you to teach students via the internet. If you’re an academic you could teach on distance learning programmes. But it’s not that well paid. If you’ve been in a senior position in corporate then you’ll find it frustrating.
Your best solution is almost certainly to start your own business.
But what sort of business? I hear you ask. You’re stuck at home and you may not have total control over your time. There are several options which I’ll talk about in a moment. The one option I’m not going to suggest is becoming a coach or mentor, because anything where you have to commit to a day and time will put you under pressure. What happens if, just as you’re talking to a client, your cared for decides to try to get out of the chair (and you know they can’t do it by themselves)? Or if your cared-for has Alzheimers and is about to wander out of the house in her nightie? No – you need a business that you can work on at your convenience or even one that you can build and then put on automatic.
Here are some ideas:
- If you were a secretary or personal assistant you could become a virtual assistant (VA).
- If you’re a graphic designer or a builder of websites you could work virtually.
- If you’re a qualified translator you could work virtually.
- If you’re great at crafts you could sell your productions on Etsy or Notonthehighstreet.
- If you enjoy writing you could have a blog that in time builds a strong following, and then you can monetise it. You can do the same with a lens on Squidoo. This would be a slower way of getting an income stream.
- If you have knowledge/expertise in a particular area you could package that knowledge and sell it to people who are desperate for that information and willing to pay for it. I especially like this one, as you spend time building your products and then you can promote them and put everything on automatic.
Even though you’re going to be a from-home business you’ll need to have a business name and possibly register your business. You should open a business back account. You’ll need a website; a mechanism for taking payments and a platform to deliver your products. If you’re crafting then Etsy or Notonthehighstreet are the good choices. If you’re selling information products you could use Clickbank or sell from your own website provided you have a shopping cart. And you’ll need to be marketing your business to get visibility and credibility. Never forget – people buy from the people they know, like and trust. You may well need a mentor.
About the Author
Gillian Pritchett is British-Canadian with a strong international business background in finance, mergers and acquisitions, strategic reviews, marketing and business consulting.
For the past few years she’s worked closely with people starting their own business – guiding them through all the stages of a business start-up from developing and evaluating ideas, setting up and running their business, managing the financial aspects and developing marketing strategies to get visibility and credibility.
Her online business – The Business Launchpad – offers a range of home study courses and mentoring programmes for people starting and running a business.
She also teaches marketing and business strategy courses on MBA programs in Montreal and Prague and runs a marketing company – Weird Fish Marketing.
Gillian is actually a chartered accountant and holds two Masters degrees, both by research, one in French Studies and the other in European Industrial Relations and HR. She has a diploma in marketing management from HEC Montréal.