Who Says Boomers Are Selfish?

boomers in carSometimes it’s hard to refute the myth that baby boomers are self-centered. It’s not our fault that are parents led us to believe we were the center of the universe. Yes, we spent a good portion of our years on the planet taking care of business that would benefit ourselves, but the true measure of a generation is what we’ve been doing for everyone lately.

So what are boomers up to? How about their eyeballs when it comes to putting their parents and children ahead of their own interests? An Ameriprise Financial 2007 survey of three generations (boomers, their children and their parents) revealed that boomers were putting their children and parents in front of their own self-interest. Only 44% were saving for their retirement.

When the survey was updated in 2011, the number had sunk to 24%. That’s right – only one in four boomers were saving for retirement. Where was the money going? More than half of the surveyed boomers were supporting aging parents, paying for groceries, medical expenses and utility bills. That’s on top of paying tuition, insurance and car payments for their kids.

The big irony underlying the survey is that the boomers thought their children were deficient in their knowledge of how to handle money and their children thought that their boomer parents were not going to have enough savings on which to retire. Now there’s a perfect illustration of how difficult it is to be part of the sandwich generation. Pulled in two directions financially, boomers are going to have to figure out what’s got to give.

Financial planners are telling boomers that they have to cut the cord and start saving again for their retirement, because there’s a good chance calculatortheir offspring will not be able to support them to the same extent that boomers have supported their own parents.

The other irony to the survey is that when asked what choice they would make between retirement savings and supporting their children, most boomers claim that they are choosing retirement savings. But the claim is not backed up by the reality. Boomers are still giving preferential treatment to their kids and their parents, and shortchanging themselves when it comes to retirement.

Bottom line, boomers may end up destitute, but don’t forget, they were looking out their parents and their kids, and that’s not selfish, that’s selfless.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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