Do our kids get and expect too much? 131



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Do our kids expect too much out of life? Is it our fault as Baby Boomers for bringing them up in ever increasing comforts of the lifestyle we can afford to give them? Do we all just think that “things can only get better” and in seventy years of prosperity not stopped to think that a time might approach when tomorrow’s generations might not be able to afford today’s prices? Could that day be nearing?

A new report by the Grattan Institute A Wealth of Generations, paints a stark picture about how much wealth has grown for the older generations of Australians in the last eight years and how much it has shrunk for the younger generations in the same period and frankly it has me wondering whether we have to stop and recalibrate how money works with those younger than ourselves. Surely we have to stop inflating the prices of houses and food, and see if we can help turn back the clock to simpler times when housing and lifestyle expectations were more realistic.

It is pretty scary to stop and think about the fact that twenty years ago it was perfectly normal for two or even three children to share a room in a house; for a house to only have one living room and one bathroom; and for a family to only have one income. Today, young people want a bathroom for every adult resident, a room for every person, man, woman or child, and they want it all, financially that is. But it is getting harder and harder to get it all for the younger generation.

According to the report, the housing boom plus rapid increases in government payments on pensions and services for older people risks creating a generation of young Australians with a lower standard of living than that of their parents at a similar age. It finds that most age groups are richer than they were in 2003. An average 55 to 64-year old household was $173,000 richer in real terms in 2011-12 than was a household of that age in 2003-04. The average 65 to 74-year old household was $215,000 better off over the same period. But in contrast, the wealth and incomes of younger age groups in western countries have fallen well behind those of their parents at a similar age. The average 35 to 44-year old household was only $80,000 richer. Worst affected were 25 to 34-year olds who had less wealth than people of the same age eight years before – even though they saved more than did people of that age in the past.

It seems that although it doesn’t feel like it, Governments are spending much more on pensions and services today than ever before, particularly health, for older households. In 2010, governments spent $9400 more per household over 65 than they did six years before with much of the increased spending was funded by budget deficits.

Younger generations seem to hope that gifts and inheritances will eventually redress the balance between the generations, but on present trends analysed showed that mostly inheritances only benefit those who already consider themselves wealthy.

So what can we do to prevent the rising generations from being worse off than their parents? The Australian suggests that targeting the Age Pension, reducing superannuation tax concessions, and changing taxes to being asset oriented would make a large difference.

Or is it just a storm in a teacup… Do you think that every generation has felt the pressure of exceeding the standards set by the generation before them and just needed time to develop the income, earnings and growth like every other? Or is it different this time? Do we need to step up and help our kids?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Some people save and others spend. Growing up our holidays were spent fishing and camping, our children the same. No credit cards,cash when you could afford it etc etc. every generation has its struggles, baby boomers now have parents to care for then assist with grandchildren so it all balances out. Our parents were displaced migrants so their lives were tough,never heard them complain. We had it easier then we try and do the same for our own children because we want to see them happy and do well in life.

    2 REPLY
    • Like your comment I to have come from a migrant background and you Eha may I address you by your first name and you have described the very essence of the situation of what previous generations our wonderful parents coming from horrible Wars which the XYZ generation will never be able to comprehend what they have been through, and how we the children are still committed to our children’s need and our old parents needs with out every asking the Government for any handouts except for $2.00 a week for child endowment we paid for our own MBF and HCF we paid for our day care for the children and we paid for further education and we always looked for extra jobs doing what ever we could find . and to day we look after our elderly parents with out been paid a carer’s benefit, and we care for the little children without asking for fees. And that is why Baby Boomers had achieved , not because of house prices increasing over years making us richer, we had no super, remember interest rates were either 14% flat, and with the Labour Government interest on loans went up to 18% no first home grant, so thankyou Eha Wolczecki for writing you comments it is so true.

  2. I see a heck of a lot of”unrealistic senses of expectations or entitlement’ the only thing I expected/ hoped for was a job ( pretty much any job would do) to be able to get whatever else I needed or wanted

  3. Everyone needs to learn how to live within their means. We all have different needs, wants, stories & circumstances. All these things can change over times so we all need to change our lifestyle accordingly. Sometimes its not easy but thats just how life works.

  4. The greatest problem is not educating them on patience. They must have everything right now. We waited till we could afford the best. Kids want it instantly. Grrrrrr.

    1 REPLY
    • Not all of us.. :p I waited ages to get what I have and still don’t have exactly what I want. That takes time. It makes it easier that I am a minimalist and not very materialistic.

  5. The time has come to change just one thing blame someone else for everything . I grew up in a household that had no money my parents were good parents and did the best for us they could and I did the best I could for my children. Now my children do the best they can. You can not change the world or set the clock back and you live in your time just as every group of humans since the begging of time. What young people need is jobs and the Government needs to stop allowing overseas worker to come in and take the jobs in mining ect! I know heaps of young men and women who tried to get work and could not while workers are flown in and out!

  6. You know when we were young and most mums stayed home and didn’t work my mum decided to work to make ends meet she worked the weekend nights at the cinemas. Dad had a second job on the gates at the football. And I had my tennis and netball which I walked to. We just scraped through but in the end they owned the lot. I’m very proud of them. My children are good providers and fun parents who love life but work hard too.

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