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The age of generosity - the cost of supporting family and friends

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Published March 2012

Aviva Real Retirement

We’ve been tracking the concerns of the over-55s for more than two years now, through our Real Retirement Report. In the latest issue, we look at intra-family support. How do the over-55s support their families? Who do they support the most? What impact does this have on them personally?

Supporting family and friends

In the last couple of years, the rising cost of living has impacted everyone. Its effects have been felt strongly by the young – as they struggle with unemployment and seemingly unattainable life goals, and the older generation – as they look to maintain their lifestyle on a fixed income.

With growing financial pressures, people are turning to their families for help. We found that 41% of over-55s helped their families and friends out over the last year and more say they would step up to this challenge if they were asked.

Boomerang generation

Adult children (23%) and grandchildren (13%) were the groups most likely to receive some form of financial help from the older generation. The report highlights that 20% of the over-75s have given financial support to their children in the last year. As this age range are more likely to have children aged in their 30s and 40s, it demonstrates just how hard some families are finding it to make ends meet in this difficult economic climate.

This is further substantiated when looking at what the financial support is being used for. The largest single reason given wasn’t for gifts and luxuries, but essential items – help paying off debts/bills was the main reason, at 31%.

Pressure from all sides

There are also financial demands from the over-55’s aging parents with 3% (March 2012) of pre-retirees saying they have given an average of £3,280 (March 2012) to their parents over the last year.

Impact of giving

While people naturally want to help their families, giving does have an effect on some people’s finances. In fact, 75% (March 2012) said that providing financial support impacted on their personal finances.

Non-financial support

Over-55s have traditionally been at the heart of the family structure – providing support for a variety of generations. In addition to financial help, 46% of over-55s have utilised their free time to help their families out with non-financial support over the last year – generally in the form of transport, odd jobs or childcare.

“Few people would refuse to help out their friends and family if they came to them asking for help – whether this was financial or otherwise. However, as a result of the times in which we are living these pressures have intensified and this is increasingly likely to have an impact on their finances. This clearly illustrates the point that saving as much as possible for retirement is vital as people don’t want to have to choose between helping their own families and maintaining their own standard of living.” Clive Bolton, ’at-retirement’ director for Aviva.

Please read our Real Retirement Report (PDF 4,000KB) for more information.

WC04062 05/2012

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