The thought of discussing our financial arrangements with people we love leaves many of us tongue-tied - and new research suggests it becomes no easier with age.
A report from Aviva, which gathered the views of around 1,000 people either approaching or in retirement, concluded money is a “taboo” topic among many older people, with more than a quarter (28%) of those interviewed admitting they have not had any conversation at all with their family - even their spouse - about their retirement finances.
Around two-thirds of over-55s said they actually had discussed their plans with their partner, but only one in five had involved both their partner and their wider family.
Yet despite this secrecy, many people said providing for their loved ones was a high priority in retirement. M ore than two-fifths (42%) of those surveyed said it was important for them to have enough money from their pensions and savings to be able to help out their children and grandchildren.
So why are so many people keen to keep their plans for retirement finances to themselves?
Perhaps people see their arrangements as a “personal matter” and simply don’t want to get their family involved - a round half of people gave this as the reason.
But around a quarter of those who haven’t opened up said they just don’t know enough about their own finances to have a proper family discussion (those in the 55 to 64-year-old age group were the most likely to cite this explanation).
The suggestion that many people are brushing their financial plans for retirement under the carpet happens to come at a time when we’re being given much greater freedom over how we spend our pension pots. The “pensions bombshell”, unveiled in the Government’s recent Budget, will make it much easier for people to cash in their pension savings when they retire, spending their money how they want to, rather than being forced to use it to buy a lifetime income called an annuity.
There’s another concern about people’s apparent lack of responsibility too: A viva’s report showed only around three in five (59%) of people aged over 55 have made a will, rising to more than three-quarters (76%) of people aged over 75. Just under a quarter (22%) of those surveyed have made some arrangements which will provide their spouse with an income if they die.
Clive Bolton, Aviva’s managing director of retirement solutions, says all this proves how it’s important for “honest conversations” to take place within families about finances.
He says: “These findings reveal a stark difference between what people want to do about their retirement finances in respect of their families, and what they put into practice.
“The reality is that failing to address the needs of those close to you could mean they may lose out.”
On a final brighter note, the report also found that the older generation have, on average, around £150 a month more in their pockets than they did a year ago, in a sign that they are starting to feel the benefits of an improving economy. O ver-55s typically have an income of £1,373 a month, which is an extra £151 a month compared with the spring of last year. Almost one third (29%) of older people identified savings and investments as a source of their income, up from 24% a year ago.