The Sandwich Generation is characterized by a generation of folks that have to care (financially) for their aging parents (who may or may not have enough money for retirement), in addition to their own children.
This “plight” was first brought out to public light by one of the more successful ads run in recent times by an Insurer, titled “The Promise”.
We have to say, NTUC Income has been one of those that has been regularly stepping up their brand and image in recent years, and always been pushing the envelope when it comes to new-age insurance stuff (Ie. trying new ways to get their message across)
In this thought-provoking / highly dramatized ad, there is a poor bloke who appears to be constantly bombarded by demands from his overbearing father, torn between having to sacrifice Parisian holidays in favor of “somewhere nearer”, and suffers the ultimate guilt trip: having to place his mother in a less than ideal ward when she was hospitalized. And oh, he also has a baby girl in the video. We feel you, mate.
Still, its an ad. (Highly successful, no doubt. But still.)
The Sandwich Generation has been around pretty long, really
Your parents and their parents were probably Sandwiched too. And I would wager that once life expectancies pushed past 50 and 60 (since the industrial ages of 1800), being in a Sandwich Generation was the norm.
Its simple mathematics, really. When people start having children (around 20 – 35), their parents would most likely be living too. Tadah – a Sandwich is born.
So why the sudden rush of attention (and pity) for these poor Sandwiches?
Because the ad did its job. It provoked emotions. It ruffled some feathers sure, but overwhelmingly it made people think about their situation. That is a runaway success in our book and kudos to NTUC Income for making that bold move.
(If memory serves, we recall one Rebecca Lim who was “retiring” as well. Damn, these NTUC folks have some creative copywriters and ad agencies supporting them)
But stop wallowing in self-pity: It ain’t a (big) problem
Uh huh, its a pretty bold statement to make right?
People are spending their days working hard and enduring nights of uncertainty over tomorrow’s expenses.
They are having to sacrifice their expensive holidays in favor of going somewhere nearer.
They have to pass their used phones to their mother for lack of cash to buy a better one.
They fret about not having enough to provide the best for their children: Piano, ballet, calligraphy and tuition.
Still, we say that its an easy problem to solve.
Welcome to our TED talk on: How to be the last Sandwich Generation Forever
First and foremost, recognize that this is a problem that everyone faces: Economic Scarcity. Regardless if you are a pauper or a billionaire, you will still face that problem.
Do I buy this sandwich now and starve for dinner?
Do I buy this island now and forgo the summer yacht?
Solution: Only spend what you have, always plan for the future.
This translates simply to: Spend wisely, and upgrade your financial literacy
The harsher version of this solution would be:
If you can’t save for retirement, stop going for holidays. It’s not a tragedy if you stay in Singapore for the next decade, really.
If you can’t provide for your family, buy a goddamn cheap phone. You don’t need to be seen carrying something flashy all the time. It is not a crime to use a secondhand phone, we checked with our lawyers on this one too.
If you cannot afford to buy a car, don’t bother forcing that purchase. There are plenty of families that go without cars in Singapore.
If you lack a sufficient income, upgrade yourself instead of resigning to your fate. You can learn about investing and other sideline incomes on your own time, for free. We recommend this cute site called Youtube, for starters.
When you regularly earn X dollars and regularly spend less than that, congratulations – you have a fantastic chance of being pulled out of that Sandwich, or at least being a self-sufficient one.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk. You may proceed with thunderous applause.
In all seriousness, it boils down to one keyword: Consumerism
If you can beat the affliction that is consumerism, then you are well on your way to being financially free. We face immense pressure through advertisers (and so-called “influencers”) to consume far more than we really need.
Luxuries are meant to be consumed and enjoyed, sure, but not at the expense of your financial well being. Often times it just means exercising some self-discipline and a strong enough sense of ego to understand: Other people do it, but I need not follow. And there is nothing wrong if I don’t do what they do because it is not applicable in my situation.
What if you can’t beat it?
Then evolution will run its course, so don’t worry about it!
(You didn’t come to us to be mollycoddled, right?)
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.
We are also in the midst of building a top-secret new platform that will change the way people view financial planning. PS. It does not contain lame hyperboles like “fintech” or “insurtech” or “machine-learning” or “AI”.