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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.

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!

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 01-May-13 18:43:28

What age group are baby boomers? I'm never sure, it always seems quite a wide agegroup from what I've half readconfused

TheCrackFox Wed 01-May-13 18:44:33

I think some baby boomers are selfish and/or immature.

Some suffered greatly during the 1980's with unemployment whilst others never had a day out of work, cheap housing and amazing pensions (meaning my generation and younger not retiring till nearly 70 to pay for it). The ones who have been lucky have never really had to grow up.

FIL retired at 58 because he was bored of work and had a great pension. He was 100% fit in a non manual job. Frankly I see that as a choice only the Baby Boomers will only be lucky enough to make. He and MIL then emigrated to France. 10 yrs later they would love to come home but cannot sell - they are trapped. They are both late 60's now and DH and I use up a lot of mental energy worrying about them because they are miserable. MIL had hinted at living with us - not going to happen.

HollyBerryBush Wed 01-May-13 18:46:21

Also she earned 3 pounds a month

And? I think I started work on £12 a week, all things relative.

Varya Wed 01-May-13 18:46:59

IMO BBs are no more selfish than the generations born since the BBs.
Not everyone inherited thousands, not everyone had it easy. FS pension schemes collapsed and its unfair to label BBs as selfish.

Grinkly Wed 01-May-13 18:47:00

Baby boomers are aged 60-70 and are seeing their income from their savings slashed as interest rates are so low. Unless they are on indexed linked pensions like public servants but even then, with rampant inflation as it is now, that will by less over time.

They are also being affected by falling house values like everyone else (think of those who retired to Spain eek!). True some have benefitted from high property prices, but some are passing on the profits to their DCs in the from of mortgage help or university fees.

YellowTulips Wed 01-May-13 18:47:34

Sorry - not sure my last post was clear. When I said "expecting the next generation to provide" I didn't mean that " the 40 something" generation should expect inheritance. Rather that they should not expect to have to finance parents who have blown a great financial position resulting from being born at the right time because of an ongoing "let the good times roll" mentality.

YellowTulips Wed 01-May-13 18:52:25

Grinkly - you have me worried. Are you my mother? wink

You make all the points she would!

Given I only talked to her about MN last week I guess it's unlikely (and she was trying to get me off the phone to watch the Sewing Bee TV Show)!

Hullygully Wed 01-May-13 18:59:22


Selfish human beings who don't plan ahead are the same whatever the label, some have more than others to do it with, but it was ever thus.

Hullygully Wed 01-May-13 19:01:00

Also, I do know a lot of so-called "baby boomers" who grew up in an era when jobs were plentiful, mortgages available etc, who HAD NO REASON to think that things would not continue to get better and better.

Has ANY human ever EVER learned the lessons of the past...? We are all products of our context.

alpinemeadow Wed 01-May-13 19:02:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

janey68 Wed 01-May-13 19:07:35

Sweeping generalisation.
Also, I think it's swings and roundabouts - different generations have it good in some ways, bad in others. As a woman in my mid 40s, no down some of the younger generation think I had it relatively easy with lower house prices and 100% mortgages. But I could equally well look at them and be envious of their incredibly low interest rates on their loans. Oh and what about the 12 months maternity leave which us older ladies never benefited from?

I think the key to contentedness lies in recognising that while a lucky few in any generation might have things easy, for the majority of people life is a mix of ups and downs, opportunities and lack of opportunities. It's far too simplistic to write off an entire generation as selfish, and it smacks of envy too. It's also misplaced envy because as I say, there must have been as many disadvantages to other people's lives as there were upsides. My mum was part of the BB generation. Yes, she had the relative luxury of being able to live (very modestly) on my fathers sole income, but I don't think the lack of opportunity and expectation for many women can have been a fulfilling way to live

Grinkly Wed 01-May-13 19:08:30


Also, I do know a lot of so-called "baby boomers" who grew up in an era when jobs were plentiful, mortgages available etc, who HAD NO REASON to think that things would not continue to get better and better.

Jobs were plentiful, yes, but haven't you seen all the stuff on the news about the mines closing and all the strikes. It was a bed of roses for some.
And most people could barely afford a mortgage as the interest rates were so high (up to 18 % in the 80s).

mortgage rates

alpinemeadow Wed 01-May-13 19:09:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

janey68 Wed 01-May-13 19:09:47

No doubt that should read

Hullygully Wed 01-May-13 19:13:51

Grinky, the miiners and those that couldn't afford mortgages at all aren't the demographic with the spare wong...

GettingObsessive Wed 01-May-13 19:15:10

I don't agree that BBs are necessarily selfish, but they were definitely lucky in a lot of respects which many of them don't seem to recognise. My PIL in particular have absolutely no comprehension of how hard it is now to get (and keep!) a good job - they were both teachers and, so long as they didn't actually kill a child, basically had jobs for life if they wanted them.

Kat101 Wed 01-May-13 19:16:30

My IL's are baby boomers who benefitted greatly. Home ownership is everything to them, as are big white expensive church weddings, foreign holidays, dabbling on the stock market. They have no understanding of modern issues such as the cost of childcare, private renting etc, and concluded that my hard working BIL could not get together a house deposit as he is only of average intelligence angry

janey68 Wed 01-May-13 19:16:34

I don't think any of us can really comprehend what life was like doing a job we never did at a time we never lived though!!

Hullygully Wed 01-May-13 19:18:45

I'm a baby boomer (just) by the way. My friends and acquaintances run the full gamut of skint, doing ok, managing, careful financial planners, hopeless dreamers, hideously rich etc etc Just like every other generation.

SugarMiceInTheRain Wed 01-May-13 19:20:31

My dad seems to be doing very well for himself having retired early on a generous civil service pension. He and my stepmum go on a cruise once a year and a couple of other holidays and seem to enjoy a very good standard of living. But he did plan for it and AFAIK will not need to rely on me (or my half/step sisters for support) as he gets older.

My mum on the other hand, through no real fault of her own, has not been able to save for a pension - she will only get a state one. She has a beautiful big house (in the SE) but I suppose would be classed as asset rich but cash poor. She still drives a P reg car, can't afford holidays and plans to work until she drops as she will never be able to afford retirement on a state pension. It's not due to overspending, just luck in her case. I imagine she'll eventually have to sell up and downsize but it will break her heart as that house means the world to her and she loves being able to accommodate visiting family/ friends.

alpinemeadow Wed 01-May-13 19:22:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thingymajigs Wed 01-May-13 19:29:57

I was speaking to my Dad last week about the best savings accounts. He had no idea and said he really should start a retirement fund. He retires next year. hmm
He is very much of a spend now worry later mentality. In fact he did say he was spending a lot of money this year becuase he might not be able to once he stops working. This is an intelligent man, a skilled engineer with plenty of life experience yet his head is telling him to go on 3 cruises a year and to buy an expensive car because he'll have no money soon.
I can't say if this is typical of his generation or just my dad but I'm quite different in my outlook. Debt is something I've worked hard to avoid and I'm trying to save for retirement despite a very low income. The amount he spends on holidays and 3D tv's is shocking to me.

thebody Wed 01-May-13 19:35:01

How can a whole generation be selfish?

StephaniePowers Wed 01-May-13 19:43:22

My parents are of a generation/social group where saving was completely necessary, so they still scrimp and get by even though I happen to know they have thousands in the bank, no mortgages, and my father has a great pension.

What I have found hard over the years is their sneering attitude towards us and the property ladder. I was lectured in my twenties about not having a mortgage yet, and was pretty offended actually. There was an inability on their part to see that house prices have risen to ridiculous proportions and all they could say was 'Yes but it is a sacrifice to buy a home, it is difficult for the first couple of years' as if I was expecting to have a house and possibly a few diamonds as well on £16K per year grin

Now that everyone in the media is frantically trying to make their mortgage payments, it's all over the news at all times that house prices are completely out of step, and I would like an apology from my parents for basically labelling me a slacker. hmm

I think the baby boomers are exceptionally fucked up about relationships and see them in the same terms as consumption - they have taken on this free love idea, if I feel it I can have it, they've turned it into an industry with the help of a few feckless media twunts over the years, and I think the effect on our emotional health has been catastrophic. We are addicted to achieving validation through acquisition, and it extends to everything from homes to relationships. I LONG for a stiff upper lip culture tbh.

sydlexic Wed 01-May-13 19:57:03

Born in 62 so guess that includes me.

I think the problem is you are judging what someone has at the end of their working life and thinking it was easy.

To purchase my first home for £21, 500 I had three jobs, I lived with Inlaws. We moved in with second hand furniture, no capets and no heating. Interest rates went up to 15% which made the cost of buying a house more than it is now.

Unemployment soared, many were made redundant. Repossessions reached an all time high. At one point we were homeless with two young children.

Many that have now paid off their mortgage have spare income. The value of property will always rise over a 25 year period. My DM paid £500 for her first house.

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