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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 03:54 GMT
Spending parents leave little inheritance
Out of pocket
Will SKIers' children be SKInt?
More and more older people are skiing and it has nothing to do with snow and slopes: this type of skiing stands for Spending the Kids Inheritance, or SKI.

What started in the United States as a tongue-in-cheek slogan for a bumper sticker is becoming a reality for thousands of retired people in the UK.

The stereotype of grandparents sitting at home with a blanket over their knees could not be further from the truth.

Today's Saga generation are fit and active, living life to the full and spending their retirement cash on property, cars and travel.

The Money Programme followed two SKIers, Sue and John Hynd, to Spain as they began looking for their dream retirement home.

"When you get to retirement age and your kids are off your hands and the mortgage is paid, my opinion is: go and enjoy it," said 60-year-old John Hynd.

"Don't put sums of money away for the kids, because you've spent an awful lot of money bringing those kids up."

Big spenders

Economically, the Saga generation are becoming a force to be taken seriously.

The over 50s spend around 240bn every year on leisure and account for over 40% of all consumer spending.

In an average month, retired people spend 344m on meals out and 535m on travel.

So what do the children of the SKI generation make of their parents spending habits?

The BBC Two documentary also talked to seasoned travellers Pat and Jimmy Garrard as they prepared for their latest holiday.

"We want to get out and see the world, and the opportunities are there, more so than they were in my parents' day."

The Garrards' 36-year-old son Jeremy whole-heartedly approves of his parents new found enjoyment for travel.

"I think they should spend every penny they've got, they should get out there and do whatever they want and if there's money left at the end of the day then I'll go out and spend it for them," he said.

No inheritance

But other, less understanding children of the SKIiers's generation may be in for a nasty shock.

Many of them are already struggling with high levels of debt or find it hard to get on the property ladder, and few are adequately providing for a pension.

Now it seems that they cannot bank on an inheritance to ease their financial burden.

The BBC Two series took business analyst Dr Dominic Swords to meet Sue Hynd's 36-year-old son Tim Brearley.

Would Tim be able to enjoy a similar retirement to his parents and would his enthusiasm for their new Spanish home fill the gap that their spending would leave in his inheritance?

Old and poor

Tim currently has no pension or property to fall back on.

Even if he started saving tomorrow for a retirement nest egg of 150,000, he would have to start putting aside at least 500 a month.

In retirement his nest egg would yield just under 7,000 a year for him, his partner and child.

The results are a wake-up call for anyone who has not yet started to plan their financial future.

"There is a dissonance between the children genuinely wanting parents to enjoy their retirement but also at the back of the mind is the expectation that they will in fact probably need some part of an inheritance to relieve some of their financial burden," said Dr Swords.

It seems unlikely that the children of the SKI generation will be able to enjoy the same "golden age" as their parents, and any inheritance they do receive may go some way to making up their own retirement shortfall.

"People are realising that the sums they need to save are large and they might not be able to do that on their own, so that inherited wealth may become more of an important part of their planning," said Dr Swords.

Spending the Kids Inheritance was broadcast on Wednesday, 18 February at 1930 GMT on BBC Two.


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