Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Ski set' splurging kids' inheritance on bucket list dream trips

'Cormac Meehan, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, says the phenomenon in foreign travel is being driven by a desire among comfortably off pensioners to strike a dream destination off their bucket list' Stock photo: PA News
'Cormac Meehan, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, says the phenomenon in foreign travel is being driven by a desire among comfortably off pensioners to strike a dream destination off their bucket list' Stock photo: PA News
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Many older Irish parents are ground down funding the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' - trying to help offspring on to the property ladder - but others are less worried about spending the "kids' inheritance".

Latest trends show a growing number of well-heeled "baby boomers" are splashing out on luxury and prestige foreign sporting events.

The so-called boomers generation are determined to make their golden years as sunny as possible, according to some observers. They now make up one-in-five of the adult population - and according to this week's census figures their numbers are set to increase.

One of the biggest areas of luxury spending, for those who can afford it, is on top-of-the-range foreign holidays.

Others are indulging in exotic jaunts such as attending Formula 1 Grand Prix events.

The baby boomer generation are regarded as those born between 1947 and 1964. Many were lucky enough to hold down lifelong well paid jobs and generous pensions.

Unlike their younger counterparts, they have also benefited from soaring property values; often the family home is worth many times more what they originally paid for it. And while in the past retirement years may have revolved around pottering in the garden, golf, and low-key bridge nights, today's pensioners are more energetic and healthier than ever before.

Many of these "silver surfers" lead much more active lifestyles than retirees of former times, according to studies carried out by behavioural scientists. They can be found canoeing down the Zambezi, sipping cocktails on the beach in Thailand, or witnessing a solar eclipse in the Antarctic.

However, this new generation of pensioner has also attracted the not altogether complimentary label - the Ski Set, a handy acronym for Spending the Kids' Inheritance. Cormac Meehan, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, says the phenomenon in foreign travel is being driven by a desire among comfortably off pensioners to strike a dream destination off their bucket list.

And he says they have no qualms about dipping into their life savings in order to hit the road and follow the sun.

"I run into this type of customer every week. People of a certain age say to themselves 'this is something I want to do' and the baby boomers are at a point where they also think 'I've earned this'.

"There's a sense of moral entitlement about it which is very positive. We recently had a couple who wanted to go to the Calgary Stampede in Canada, a huge cattle ranch and rodeo fair. A holiday like that would set you back around €5,000 for 10 days. Another popular trip among the baby boomers is Grand Prix racing.

"They're attracted to all the glamour surrounding F1. It's a lovely idea. However, when you travel to this type of event, it attracts premium prices."

The destination and itinerary for such an event is "carefully planned" and usually booked 12 months in advance - but value for money still remains a key concern.

Meanwhile, financial adviser John Lowe, who operates the well-known personal finance brand The Money Doctor, says some of those who are cash rich are eager to live life to the max.

"More and more people who have assets are not into leaving cash and property behind. I have one client who is selling two properties just to have a wad of money so she can have a bloody good time. She is in her late 60s and still able to have fun," he said.

He also pointed out that banks are set to introduce a new type of loan - which will allow pensioners to dip into equity in their home - to free up cash to fund particular lifestyles.

'Life Loans', which were being actively marketed by the banks in the Celtic Tiger era, generally involved older, mortgage-free homeowners.

The customer does not have to make any repayments on the loan during their lifetime - unless they sell the property - or no longer live in it. However, any outstanding unpaid balance becomes a charge on the property, and eventually has to be repaid - normally when the borrower dies.

"These type of loans stopped around 2012. But as money is now starting to gather a bit of steam, I think they're going to be coming back into the market, in a couple of months.

"It's a great way of releasing some finance to buy something like a 50in 3D TV, go on a massive holiday, or have a few bob in the bank, which allows you go out to the pub every night if you so desire."

Sunday Independent

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