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Pre-retirees being ‘sandwiched’, warns REST

Older working Australians are not only more likely to enter retirement with high levels of debt, they are also under pressure to provide financial assistance to their children, a new report by REST has found.


A new whitepaper commissioned by industry fund REST gauged the opinions of 1,048 Australians aged over 35, and found a high level of "intergenerational dependency" when it comes to the finances of Australian families.

Australians have provided $507 billion of intergenerational assistance to other family members throughout their lives, the whitepaper found.

Older working Australians (those aged 50 or older) are responsible for almost $200 billion in financial giving, found REST.

Seventy-two per cent of intergenerational assistance is provided to adult children aged over 18, most commonly for education ($109 billion), everyday expenses ($93.1 billion) and home deposits ($68.5 billion).

Almost half (46 per cent) of older working Australians expect to retire with debt, with one in four retiring with credit card debt (25 per cent), one in five with a mortgage (21 per cent) and one in 10 with unpaid bills (12 per cent).

REST chief executive Damian Hill said the combination of intergenerational dependency and high levels of debt at retirement is at risk of 'sandwiching' older working Australians.

"As the majority of assets for older working Australians are locked up in the family home, carrying mortgage debt into retirement can be a cause of financial stress for retirees," Mr Hill said.

"While any debt they have is usually offset by savings in superannuation and other investments, it’s a good idea for people in this age bracket to try as much as possible to pay down this debt before retiring.

"While the financial support being provided is often for critical items such as education and housing, and the majority (79 per cent) of those who had the means to provide financial assistance felt good about helping out, it needs to be balanced with a focus on saving for a comfortable retirement."

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