Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Old People Are Spending All Their Money

"I do not see my baby boomer clients giving up a vacation or wine or dinners out so that they can leave more money to their children ... They say, 'If there's something at the end I'd love [the kids] to have it, but what's important for me now is to get what I've earned, which is to travel and have a nice bottle of wine.'"
—Baby boomers are drinking your inheritance.

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well. its not gonna drink itself, is it?


Well, if your kids have left home you probably shouldn't be paying for them anymore anyways, so take that vacation parents!


The baby boomers are already busy eating my Social Security, and my pension, and are already busy digesting my affordable university degree and my non-downsized job, so I'm not surprised they'd like a little wine to wash it down with.


Look, George, it's a Pierre Cardin!


Well, I drank their salaries throughout high school and college, so I guess fair's fair.


My parents give us as much as we need/they can now--Mom says we'll get it all when they die anyway so we might as well get it while we need it. But she's just 56/he's 61 so hopefully they've still got plenty of time to fritter it away. I guess once they retire they'll start spending more on themselves?


I am confused about the concept of parents "having money." Other people had college paid for and got down payments for houses? My mom wouldn't even own a house if she hadn't cashed in *her* inheritance early. Of course, her dad is only in his early 70s and until the recession was gleefully spending all the money he'd earned sitting in an office at his brother-in-law's company for twenty years on cruises and fine wines. So maybe this phenomenon skipped a generation in my family.

I will say that it is super-awkward when my mom talks about the great life insurance policy she has on herself, aka the poor people's way to leave your kids each $250,000. What can I say, "Thanks mom, can't wait until you die?"


@sophia_h Same here... there are parents that have the money to lend their children DOWN PAYMENTS?! My mother has no money, no savings, nada. And she also didn't pay for any of my education. But I've learned not to expect anything from her, now or after her death.


@sophia_h Can't wait, or won't?

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

@sophia_h MY PARENTS DO THE SAME THING. And I think I'm the beneficiary for my single older brother's life insurance as well. Do you WANT me to guiltily fantasize about how much I'll make when my whole family dies??

And seriously about the parents having money. When I was in college and told a friend my parents couldn't afford to buy me a car she was completely puzzled. "Not even a really old one?" No, friend, sorry I can't drive you to the liquor store all the time, $1500 is a lot for some people.


Given my siblings (who range from 20-30) all still live at home with no plans to leave, it seems to me like they've already spent through their inheritance AND anything I might get--let's see, for each one of my three siblings: living rent-free (let's lowball at $500/month for ten years (which is less time than the oldest has been there)-- a small portion of my parent's mortgage) = $60,0000. Food: let's say $200/month, even though I know it's easily more than this: $24,000. Cleaing/laundry: I'll lowball this at $100/month as well for my parent's time and services as well as detergent costs/etc: $12,000. Education: $5000/semester, with only one completing community college (no job), one taking the six year plan and the other dropping out. Not counting other things such as: my parents fixing their cars, paying their health insurance, buying them computers and books for school, paying for clothing and other incidentals.

In summary: fuck those people. I moved out at 18 and never counted on getting shit.


As long as they don't drink their retirement money and then want to move in with me, I'm fine with this.


@clairedammit Similarly, debts. I don't know the etiquette of this because I haven't had any close family members die since I was a child (touch wood) but it seems like you should at least plan to leave your kids enough money to cover your funeral/medical costs. After that, though, go on the world's classiest European bender, l'chaim.


"we were like, wow." = official position of US Trust's president? Uh-mazing.


I love my parents very much, but they could be the poster children for this article. It really seems like Boomers don't share the "generational wealth" goals of their parents.

For example, my grandfather left a sizeable estate to his family, and stated throughout his life that he wanted his children to grow what he passed to them. However, as soon as they were able my father and his sister promptly liquidated all holdings without a mention to myself, my sister, or my cousin. I only found out that all assets had been sold after I asked to visit and see my grandfather's priceless rock collection - the one he made during a lifetime of collecting and cataloguing - only to be told "oh, er, we sold that a few years ago". I found out (after some digging) that they also sold a San Francisco vacation property, a few timeshares, the family book collection and much more. Not a penny was set aside for the grandkids...instead, my parent's empty nest now has a new designer kitchen, a pool, and my mother purchased a new horse to go along with the two showhorses she already has.

Also, both my father and his sisters enjoyed fully-paid-for attendance at the colleges of their choice. My sister and I were encouraged by them to accept scholarships to our third-choice schools and to cover any deficit with student loans.

I mean, I really don't mean to begrudge them a happy retirement; I know I'm still very privileged, and don't mean to say I deserve money I haven't earned. But as I'm currently unemployed, it's hard to watch my parents live an incredibly nice lifestyle that they don't wish to share. They're good people, but they're just kind of...oblivious, I guess. And I think they're not alone - a lot of their friends seem to do the same thing, building additions to their houses and taking trips while their college-educated kids scrape by as waitstaff and customer service reps. By no means are all parents this way, but it really does seem to be something of a trend.


@jule_b_sorry Yeah, that's where the trend gets me -- if *you* got left a bunch of money by *your* parents, shouldn't you be passing it onto your kids? Otherwise you are just double-cashing in.


@jule_b_sorry My parents were the exact same way. Right around the time the youngest of my siblings entered college, my parents came into a lot of money, and we have not seen a bit of it. That’s fine by me, considering I was lucky enough to pay for 90% of college with scholarships and get a good job after only a year of struggling. But it breaks my heart that my siblings are scraping by at the shitty local state school* (whose $4,000 tuition they can afford) while my mom texts me photos of her $20,000 kitchen renovation.

Yeah, my siblings need to learn to fend for themselves, but their prospects for total financial independence (and satisfying, stable careers) would be a lot better if my parents contributed a little for a better school. Just seems like a waste of money and a shortsighted investment NOT to do this--now that college degrees are a dime a dozen--if you’d like to have kids who aren’t going to lean on you past the age of 25.

*not a knock on public education in general, just this particular school, which is the severely underfunded stepchild of our state’s university system


@KatieWK Wow, that sucks, and good on you for making it on scholarships! They aren't always easy to find. At least you can be proud of being independent and not taking hand-outs- having that feeling of self-worth is definitely worth more than a few small cash infusions (although, of course there are times I'd rather have had the cash!)

Actually, that's the worst part...while I haven't had this personally directed at me, my parent's friends often drop comments to belittle their kids as "lazy" or "probably addicted to drugs". The kids I know aren't lazy - they're just like the rest of us, either looking for work or trying to get by on a $30k salary while paying student loans. They're just in a very different world from their parents, where college degrees aren't as valued, productivity is up and wages flat. I think deriding the kids as lazy is mostly a way to excuse not helping their kids out more.

It's exactly as Sophia, above, said: it comes off as unfair b/c it's a double-dip. They received a leg-up from their parents, who probably sacrificed to pass something along...but don't want to make the same sacrifices b/c "those kids have had plenty of advantages already".


@jule_b_sorry I should clarify (because I love 'em) that my parents didn't "double dip." They came into money through the company my dad has worked for his entire career, so it was well earned and a long time coming.

But yeah, regardless of whether your kids are lazy (or directionless, which is usually perceived as laziness), it is just fucking hard out there. It is easy to get disillusioned starting out in this economy, and at the risk of using a total cliche, I really don't think our parents get it. My brother just tried to enlist (turned down for health reasons) because he can't find a job that pays more than $10/hr.

Sometimes I'm proud I made it mostly on my own, but more than that I took away the lesson that financial independence isn't valuable in and of itself. If I ever have the means to help my kids through college, I will pay for school, but make them responsible for applying/figuring out financial aid/finding living arrangements/etc. You can teach independence and life skills without withholding money and restricting opportunities.

ample pie

@jule_b_sorry: This has always been kind of shocking to me. Each of my parents had their respective educations paid for by their parents, who were financially comfortable. They, in turn, paid for my education and my brother's, and while no strings were ever explicitly attached, by having accepted that money, I feel obligated to do my best to pay for my children's education.

I don't see their attitude as that common, though. To be honest I feel like the Boomer generation took a lot from their parents (and benefited from things like government subsidization of education) and now are taking from their children without giving a whole lot back. It's not something I think is personally calculated, but as an entire generation, that's how it seems to play out to me.


Let's see, my Boomer parents didn't help me through college or grad school at all, not that I wanted them to because I hate being beholden to people, and I suppose any "inheritance" I might have is being tithed to the Mormon church.

If they leave me their mortgage or their ugly-ass house or the oodles of crap filling said house, I will be quite annoyed. I wonder what I could do to get myself written out of the will, since living in sin and getting tattoos hasn't done it...


@DH@twitter So they are providing for you! Terrestrial kingdom, here you come.



You win. Everything, you win everything.


Inheritance? I know many of you have parents that are still working so you are not facing the choices my family is with parents just over 70.

They did everything middle class professionals were supposed to preparing for retirement. However, both laid off before 65 and couldn't find new jobs, took smaller Social Security benefit early. Retirement funds in stock, meager to begin with, halved by 2008 crash. Interest producing investments returning 1% these days. A small pension was cut further. No SS cost of living adjustments for years and threats to eliminate COLAs forever. The main extravagance of these greedy geezers? Living in their own household while they are still physically able, without financial help from their children.

I'm lucky my parents are so old, when they move in with me they'll have full Medicare and SocSec. Nobody is talking about real cuts for them. Those 20-somethings whining about SocSec and demanding cuts going to have make a yet another plan for when they're in their 40-50s, in addition to their own retirement and college for their kids. It's a hell of a lot easier to have your parents in the spare bedroom when they bring ~$1000/month and Medicare instead of $500 and small medical voucher.


Hope they are saving enough for a good nursing home, etc. I can't imagine that their kids will be too eager to chip in.


I'm sure this phenomenon does exist, but as many have already said...it's definitely not universal. My dad will probably die in the saddle. He loves working, not necessarily the money. I actually sort of wish he would retire and open a bottle of wine with my mom.

This is sort of on topic, sort of not, but it got me thinking about it. I feel like I'm seeing more and more of the age old generation vs. generation venom these days. The young people move back in with their parents! They don't want to work! They were coddled by their rich parents! And I'm always seeing these commercials with old people wagging their fingers at those people trying to take away their medicare. Because they're the ONLY generation who should get insurance. I love my elderly neighbors and I don't want to see them suffer in old age, but I'm just tired of being told that my generation is worthless.

Eff. Didn't mean to rant so much.


@polina Articles about baby boomers are the same as NYT trend pieces: three rich people somewhere do a thing. Writer knows one of them, has a deadline. BOOM universal experience.


@polina People have been complaining about other generations since the beginning of time. Remember when Plato said, "What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?"


@annepersand Word! People of all generations are fuck ups. That is truly universal.


@Georgiana Lee@twitter : Yeah, and I think it was Shakespeare who said, "You damn kids get off my lawn!" :P


@jule_b_sorry Yes! He was talking to Romeo and Juliet I believe.


It creeps me out the way some people discuss this topic, particularly when massive entitlement kicks in from a lot of middle class kids. I would never expect anything from my parents when they die and I certainly don't feel like it's something I deserve or that they owe me. They raised me and did an awesome job and they continue to give me endless love and emotional support. That's more than enough and more than any person could ask for.

In fact, when my parents talk about all that they will leave me, it upsets the hell out of me. I don't want to inherit; I want my parents to be here. There is a lot of longevity in my family and if they are still here when I'm 70, I will be very very happy. They are very successful (all by their own hands, not inherited) and have a sizable estate to bequeath, but I'd rather they be alive and spending and enjoying it. And if they did somehow manage to spend every last bit before they died, I wouldn't resent it one bit.


@Squarah That's all well and good, but if Dawlish thinks he's getting one single column of the old stately h., he's got another damn thing coming.

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

I am taking my inheritance early in the form of free rent, because I am a newly minted English major with no job prospects. Thanks Mom and Dad!!

fondue with cheddar

I don't expect an inheritance from my parents, who have helped me out financially during their living years. The most disturbing thing about this article is the realization that both my parents and my boyfriend are baby boomers. That's just...weird.



It isn't really a single generation. There was a big wave, followed by an undulation that keeps getting submerged in the big wave's backwash.

fondue with cheddar

@atipofthehat I understand that; 47-65 is a pretty big broad range. I used the word "generation" loosely as people do refer to them as "the baby boom generation". I always think of it as comprising older people because my parents are part of that group, though they were actually at the beginning of it (they're 63). I didn't realize people as young as 47 were considered baby boomers.


Wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit. Our parents are doing us a favor, really.

(When is Arrested Development week over? I hope never.)


Close that robe, Oscar, you look like the window of a butcher shop.



The Best Time My Mentally Ill Mother Died and We Had To Go Through Her Miss Havisham Mansion and Found That We Awkwardly Inherited The Money She Stole From Her Sister When Their Father Died In The 1970's And The Question Was "Do We Keep It or Give It Back to The Drug Addicted Sister Who Rightfully Deserves It But Will Blow It In Three Months"


The Best Time My Middle-Aged Father Had A Nervous Breakdown and Cut Me Out Of His Will


The Best Time The Hairpin Stopped Bringing Out My Inner Rage Against My Fucked Up Parents




"The Best Time My Dad Went To An Estate Lawyer and Took Me Out To Breakfast, Ostensibly For My Birthday, But Actually To Enumerate The Breakdown Of His Will, Causing Me To Cry At My Parents' Mortality In The Bathroom of The Diner."


My rule for my parents is, they can spend every penny on cruises and nice dinners and, whatever, hookers and blow, but they're not allowed to get sick and need to spend it on medical bills. They're supposed to live it up and then die very quickly and peacefully.

I'm crossing my fingers, anyway.

Pound of Salt

“So THAT’S why my mom’s lips are always purple in the morning” – during my first wine-over.


I'm fine with however my parents and grandparents spend their money, but I've told them that I will not be putting them up at Hotel de las Poppets if they blow all their money and become homeless, nor will I be wiping elder heiney should they find themselves in need of nursing care. (I come from a long line of irresponsible sh*ts, and while I love them all dearly, I'm not picking up the tab for decades of poor decision-making.)

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