Gen Xers are faced with caring for ageing parents and also supporting their own children – all whilst trying to plan for their retirement 
Financially, many are looking at an uncertain future, with insufficient funds to support a comfortable income in later life 
Working with a financial adviser to understand the options and map out a long-term plan can help take the pressure off 
Members of Generation X are often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’, for good reason: they’re caught between the baby boomers (their parents, who are living longer and increasingly likely to need long-term care) and millennials (their adult kids, who are struggling with the costs of living), and are being squeezed financially from both sides. 
Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers’ situation is compounded by the fact that they formed the bulk of the workforce at a time when responsibility for long-term savings shifted from employers and the state to the individual. 
Many of those currently aged between 41 and 56 are also paying the price for having entered the workforce too late to receive Defined Benefit pensions (where the amount paid is based on the number of years spent with an employer and the salary earned), but too early to benefit from automatic enrolment in jobs they had at the time, as this only took effect in 2012. 
An uncertain future 
Taken together, these factors explain why Gen Xers face a particular set of challenges in saving and planning for the future. Indeed, for many Gen Xers, the future – and their retirement – is a scary thought. 
A third of Gen Xers are at high risk of retiring with ‘minimal’ incomes, according to a recent report by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) – with more than half wanting to save more, but struggling to do so. More than six million members of Gen X expect to be worse off than their parents when they eventually retire.1 
“For members of Generation X, this should be a peak contribution time,” says Tony Clark, Senior Propositions Manager at St. James's Place Wealth Management. “But they’re faced with a tsunami of financial pressures. Even if they’re not paying for care directly, they might be working reduced hours to look after a parent, or parents – which reduces how much they can contribute to a pension.” 
Almost a third of Gen Xers surveyed by the ILC said saving for retirement was low on their list of priorities, with 19% finding it hard to save regularly due to insecure incomes and outgoings. These difficulties have been exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic, during which more than half a million Gen Xers have been made redundant and 1.3m have seen their hours reduced.2 
The importance of a plan 
All of this serves to underline the importance of knowing what to plan for and what your options are when circumstances or priorities invariably change, says Clark. 
“That may include working for longer and delaying your retirement. But actually, your goals shouldn’t need to shift. Not if you have a handle on what your savings are – it could be a mix of Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit pensions – and what you should be doing with them, even if you’re not ready to retire.” 
Perhaps the most obvious way to boost your retirement savings is to increase your pension contributions, especially if you’re in a workplace scheme where you benefit from both tax relief and employer contributions. 
There may even be a tipping point beyond which your employer doesn’t just match your extra contributions, but goes further. Why not ask them or check your contract to find out if that’s the case – it could make a big difference. 
Improving your retirement savings doesn’t have to entail paying in more money, though. It could be that your current investments aren’t performing well enough, or that you could get better returns by reviewing your existing retirement pots to see if they could be working harder for you. 
“Review your investments and check they’re still fit for purpose,” Clark advises. “You can get the most from that process by going through it with a professional adviser, who can see the big picture and take account of things like your risk appetite and capacity for loss.” 
Sharing the load 
Of course, no two members of Generation X are the same. Everyone’s needs and motivations are different. But with a broad theme of financial pressures coming from all directions, while still trying to fund your retirement yourself, it could be worth asking for help. 
We help ensure that any decisions you take in the shorter term are informed by and make sense in the context of your specific financial situation and wider life plans. We can also offer longer term guidance – for example, on how your retirement planning is linked to estate planning. 
“As circumstances change, it’s invaluable to have someone who can help you assess your priorities, work with you to map out a clear direction and take the pressure off,” says Clark. 
Top tips for Gen Xers: 
Consider your immediate financial priorities in the context of longer-term goals – and ask us for help if you’re finding it difficult to stay on track in challenging times. 
Work with us to get to grips with how your investments are performing and whether they could be made to work harder – for example, by understanding your risk appetite better or reviewing disparate pension pots. 
Regularly review your retirement plans to help you decide whether you need to make changes to help achieve your goals – perhaps by retiring later or semi-retiring first. 
If you’re self-employed, we can offer guidance on the best ways to structure your pension contributions to better suit your earnings patterns, utilising available allowances. 
Aim to retire when you’re confident you’ll have the level of income you need to live comfortably – not at an arbitrary age. Baby Boomers typically retired at 60 or 65, although that’s an increasingly unlikely option for Gen X. 
The value of an investment with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than the amount invested.  
1,2 International Longevity Centre, "The Forgotten Generation? Retirement Income Prospects for Generation X", November 2020, 6035 people surveyed. 
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