Baby Boomers - The selfish generation?

(202 Posts)
YellowTulips Wed 01-May-13 17:52:42

Ok - so this came out of another thread...but it got me thinking and gathered a few responses.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/1743690-Please-I-NEED-to-know-if-IABU-before-I-take-a-stand-with-my-in-laws?pg=1

I have posted below as I did on the thread. What I am interested to know is if this is a really wide spread issue?

Disclaimer: Whilst I know (far) to many people this applies to, I have to confess my parents and PIL's so no signs of bonkers retirement plans (just good planning to give them a good standard of life).

Ok - so post below:

Whilst this case is at the extreme end of the spectrum, there seems to be (from the posts here and chats with friends/colleagues) a real reluctance on the "baby boomer" generation to make sustainable retirement plans.

Here in the UK many friends have parents who for years have lived off rising property values and the expectation that they can sell up or remortgage to fund what are clearly highly expensive lifestyles that can't be maintained over 20/30 years of non generation of income.

There seems to be a groundswell of entitlement often laughingly termed "spending the kids inheritance" - which in principle I don't object to - you can't take it with you and I personally would rather my parents enjoyed retirement than "save" or god forbid "scrimp" for me, but I am seeing this taken to "spend the inheritance and then let the kids bail us out".

I have lost count of friends who are now in some form or another subsiding their retired parents - parents who have "blown" life savings and house equity on mad "let's buy a house in Spain to live in half the year" or let's "travel around the US in a huge RV for 2 years" or "buy a boat and sail around the med" because they refused to really think if they could afford it.

Before I get beaten up, I don't object to people wanting to help family in desperate straights, I just seem to hear more and more stories where these situations were totally avoidable and parents have been - put bluntly - bloody selfish at worst and in denial at best.

The families involved are now making sacrifices that impact their children at the very time they should be the priority.

Do I just have an unlucky social group or is this issue becoming more prevalent?

Rant over.....hand me a biscuit!

edwardsmum11 Wed 01-May-13 17:55:58

Not necessarily. More like the luckier generation in some respects.

HollyBerryBush Wed 01-May-13 17:59:14

It kind of depends when you were born, when your parents died, what you inherited, where you worked.

FWIW my Dad retired in 1985 - his pension after commuting 25% was 36K per annum back then. I dread to think what that would be with index linked rises these days.

My banking pension has however been devalued time and time again, in ten years the ability to extend has moved from 50 to 10 - which pisses me off no end as I don't have longevity on my side.

If you look at my best mate, she married in 1986, and I married in 1993 - that 8 year gap has meant a tremendous difference in lifestyle, mortgage repayments, the ability to retire early and so forth.

The Baby Boomer generation were the ones who were fed the line that they could have it all, prosperity was never ending, mad house price inflation, golden pensions, inflated endowment policies, hoiking up credit cards on the never never. That was fed by successive governments.

With regard to endowment policies - we bought a small one, the projection was 800K, in reality it will pay out something like 23k.

CruCru Wed 01-May-13 18:00:30

I think also it may be that they were the first generation to have choices but couldn't see where those choices will lead. For example, I have friends with divorced parents so some people have four sets of grandparents, all of whom want their grandchildren to visit at Christmas. Often doesn't happen.

Not to say that getting divorced is wrong, of course, just that it will have consequences for your family.

edwardsmum11 Wed 01-May-13 18:00:46

Tbh I worry more for my sons generation... it's gonna get worse.

HollyBerryBush Wed 01-May-13 18:01:02

oops - typo in ten years the ability to extend has moved from 50 to 10

should read 50 to 60

DustyBluebells Wed 01-May-13 18:01:13

I find that people of my parents generation - (in their sixties now) have spent a considerable amount of time in a shit sandwich - elderly and entitled parents of the war generation who wouldn't go into homes and expected their children to look after them and also working full time to pay for DCs to go through University (fewer grants etc.). My DMum and DMil were run ragged looking after elderly parents and inlaws with little thank you.

The most selfish, self centred and immovable folk i know are around my age (40ish).

YellowTulips Wed 01-May-13 18:01:19

I agree they have been lucky and I don't begrudge that. It's the squandering of that "luck" and passing the burden to the "less lucky" next generation I find, well a bit shameful, when it happens.

DustyBluebells Wed 01-May-13 18:03:29

As for the property boom - it was over some time really. Those who bought in the 70s haven't made as much per se as those who bought in the late 90s and quickly sold on.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 01-May-13 18:11:21

In my family, my grandparents planned meticulously for their retirement. The one grandfather who was afraid he'd die in his late 40's (family history, heart disease) took out as many health insurance policies as his employer (US Navy, he was an officer) allowed, which were all very generous, as well as the highest pension allowance possible for his wife. She worked as well, full-time, and they retired very comfortably.

Their children all lived the boomer lifestyle of running up a lot of debt (one had to declare bankruptcy) and in general have not planned for retirement at all. I'm an only child, trying to raise a family of my own, but terrified of what will be expected of me in the not so distant future.

GettingObsessive Wed 01-May-13 18:17:14

My MIL is not a snowbirder or relying on us for support (at least not yet) but she appears to be totally incapable of recognising that, in many respects, she and FIL just got lucky by being in the right place at the right time. They made money on property (not through trying) and on their investments. She considers herself financially astute - she avidly reads the financial papers regarding investments and shops around to the point of tightfistedness - but won't take basic steps to research the cheapest phone, gas etc.

She said to me the other weekend that she thinks that anyone who is struggling must be living beyond their means i.e. deliberately, not because their wages simply don't cover the essential outgoings. She simply has no comprehension that stuff costs more these days and can't get her head around the fact that most people are working extremely hard just to have a fairly moderate standard of living.

I do think she (and others of her generation) live in a dream world. She's always telling DH that he's working too hard, but just doesn't get the fact that if he doesn't someone else will soon be along to take his job and the promotion that she'd love to be able to show off to her friends about

quesadilla Wed 01-May-13 18:19:02

I think "selfish" may be a bit of an exaggeration because I don't think it's been done in a calculated way, but I do think they were very lucky and took that for granted in a way which has not been helpful for succeeding generations.

When I look at my parents' attitudes to money and success I think they had such am easy time that they took it as read that it would be just as easy for us. In their day if you had a degree you were pretty much guaranteed a well paid, interesting and secure job. My parents have had a really hard time adjusting to the fact that although I have about 8 years of education than my mum did, I never got anywhere near the levels if success she achieved and I think they still secretly suspect I "slum it", by - for example - living in what they think is a dull suburb when they could afford to live in central London.

Also their approach to retirement planning was basically not to bother; my dad said to mr once his attitude was that if he ran out money he could always earn more.

It took me a long time to unlearn attitudes like this. I don't care about the inheritance thing but I do feel quite angry that they didn't instil more money sense in us.

thereonthestair Wed 01-May-13 18:20:51

My father is a bit old for a baby boomer. My mother not so. They are anything but entitled, but they do have a lifestyle I can't dream of because they were very very lucky. They both have final salary pensions (although my grandma also had a final salary pension which paid out more than my mothers which is still paying more than the national average salary). They own a house outright and have significant investments. Those are my pension as their pensions will cover any possible nursing home fees. They also had fully paid for degrees, full cb for me and my sister, and in the end bought my sister a house, and gave me the deposit for mine. To that extent they are very lucky, and know it. They had one hell of a time in the 70s and 80s and I remember countless rows about money.

However I think it is luck rather than planning. My mil was a similar generation. My fils business went bust in the 80s and both fil and mil had to do the proverbial get on your bike and get a job, any job. Paying very low wages. By the time mil retired we were paying her mortgage, and giving her £ 150 per month to live. That wasn't because she had done something wrong or selfish, she was unlucky, partly financially (redundancy etc) but also fil died suddenly and unexpectedly, and then she became disabled before there really was a safety net.

So yes we subsidised mil. But we needed to as otherwise she would have been cold, hungry and we would never have seen her. Really we re all one step away from disaster, and my parents always knew that by subsidising us on housing we could help mil.

What I think I am saying is it will depend on luck how things turn out, as society does little for the weakest, and people like my parents who are very lucky get benefits I could only dream of. And got cb, and final salary pensions paid for by the state, and get various other benefits such as winter fuel allowance which they do not need.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 01-May-13 18:22:15

My MIL thinks she is very knowledgable about property - always advising us to add an extension or convert the garage etc etc because it will more than pay for itself. She doesn't get that she made a massive profit on her house not because of her tasteful decor but because she was lucky to buy when she did. And that the money her generation have made on property was not just free money, it's being paid for by our generation now. Totally refuses to acknowledge that it is harder to buy a house now, and pretty much impossible to make a profit out of doing it.

HollyBerryBush Wed 01-May-13 18:23:14

I think the baby Boomers were selfish in a lot of ways, mainly they had excessive wealth, and yes lived the high life (as we all would) they had the ability to retire at a fairly young age 50-55 was not uncommon, so still into their 80's they are still enjoying rather marvellous pensions most of us might like to actually earn as a real time salary.

The downside of course was the loss of community - bunging their own parents in homes instead of being decent moral citizens and looking after them. Not assisting in bringing up grandchildren and so forth. But I suppose if you had lived through the post war years, the hell that was the 70's, you'd be going woo*hoo too!

In reality the baby boomer thing is a very small snapshot of our time - maybe 15 years of absolute financial fortune, be that buying your council house, getting loads of ex nationalised industry shares, or converted building society shares, inflated and unsustainable pensions.

DustyBluebells Wed 01-May-13 18:31:25

I suppose this proves there are selfish and unselfish in every generation - my experience of folk in their 60s / early 70s is that they are anything but (see earlier post) - although i don't see them not assisting in bringing up grandchildren as being selfish to be honest. so it depends on your point of view.

YellowTulips Wed 01-May-13 18:32:38

Holly I think that's a good point - it was perhaps a "snapshot" in time.

From what I see though is that's not widely realised and BB's (a minority or a majority - not sure which, hence the thread) have not grasped this.

Grinkly Wed 01-May-13 18:33:02

I've discussed this stuff before, but everyone generalizes too much. And the comment about how easy it was for BBs with degrees is true but, and I can't be bothered to look up the figures again, hardly anyone got degrees. The chosen few eg sons and daughters of lawyers/doctors and the working class who got to grammar school. Probably a tenth of the number who now attend uni. But there was a lot of attending night school (after your day of poorly paid work) to improve your prospects. And when I started work it was pretty low pay, I had no drunken sprees in Majorca with pals, let alone snowboarding in the winter which seem to be common now among young singles.

DH and I are contributing to DCs mortgage deposits. So they will live in much nicer homes than we could afford at the same age. And I don't, after seeing how hard it's been for my generation caring for the previous one, intend my DCs to care for me in my old age, I'll ensure I have enough to look after myself thanks.

YellowTulips Wed 01-May-13 18:36:16

Dusty I suppose my point wasn't about doing "more" eg childcare, it was about expecting the next generation to "provide" when in reality the BB's were lucky enough to have the best set of financial circumstances to enhance their lifestyle.

DustyBluebells Wed 01-May-13 18:36:39

YY all four of our parents say FGS don't do what we had to do with our parents...so i guess that makes us the lucky ones.

I find the assumption that our parents will and should look after our DCs a tad self absorbed tbh.

DustyBluebells Wed 01-May-13 18:38:32

Hmm interesting Yellow - it was a generation up in my family that expected my parents generation to provide for them (which they did but with little thanks as i said earlier).

HollyBerryBush Wed 01-May-13 18:38:32

Where as I like the concept of family and community and continuity

It's the pig in the snake.

Grinkly Wed 01-May-13 18:41:03

I think the baby Boomers were selfish in a lot of ways, mainly they had excessive wealth, and yes lived the high life (as we all would) they had the ability to retire at a fairly young age 50-55 was not uncommon, so still into their 80's they are still enjoying rather marvellous pensions most of us might like to actually earn as a real time salary

Holly, BBs were born AFTER the war surely confused.

My DM is in her late 80s and was a nurse during the War, when the German bombers flew over they had to get the patients out of their beds and put them underneath them in case the hospital was bombed (this was in London). Also she earned 3 pounds a month, I think it was, and had to live in very regimented nursing dorms.

Surprised you consider that life so easy!!

1946 to 1964. I'm one, and so is DH.

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