COVID’s Financial Toll Isn’t What You Think

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By Erin Wood, Senior Vice President, Financial Planning and Advanced Solutions

Just a few years ago, Rose retired with a decent-sized 401(k). With some careful budgeting and a part-time job, her retirement finances were on track. Rose was looking forward to traveling, reigniting her passion for photography and spending time with her son and her grandkids.

The pandemic changed everything. Her son contracted COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. His health deteriorated quickly and he died at only 35 years old. He didn’t have life insurance. A gig worker without a 401(k), he had very minimal retirement savings.

Rose’s grandchildren, ages 2 and 6, joined the more than 140,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 who lost their primary or secondary caregiver due to the pandemic from April 2020 through June 2021. That’s approximately one out of every 450 children under age 18 in the United States.

Rose’s ex-daughter-in-law battles drug addiction and had lost custody of the kids during the divorce, so Rose became the children’s primary caregiver. She quickly discovered that caring for young children as an older adult is more physically challenging than when she raised her son, so she made the difficult decision to leave her part-time job to have the energy to care for her active grandchildren. She wants to do everything for these kids who have lost so much — but it puts her financial security at risk.

Sadly, she is far from alone.

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