Retirees resort to selling family heirlooms

The Momentum UK Team 13 August 2013

Retirees are increasingly selling off antiques and heirlooms to fund their retirement, at a combined value of £729 million, according to new research by LV=.

The research shows that over 550,000 retirees have sold off family valuables and keepsakes in the last five years, with the average value of each item at £1,039. With 1 in 20 pensioners already having sold off a family heirloom, the discussion around how people are funding their retirement is becoming more and more important.

As well as those already in retirement, 15% of those approaching retirement (aged 50-64) admit to having already sold off a valuable item - with an average value of £2,667 - and 57% saying that they’re giving it serious thought. In addition, 48% of ‘grown-up children’ say that they expect to inherit a high value keepsake which could be sold off to supplement their income.

Ray Chinn, head of pensions at LV= said:

“The research highlights one of the less conventional methods being used by people to help fund their retirements. Of course, we understand that as retirement approaches people may find they have inadequate provisions to support the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed, and selling off valuable items and family keepsakes can provide a short-term boost to a seemingly inadequate pension pot. But, it's a stopgap measure and not a viable, long-term solution to the problem.”

Over two thirds of all items sold by retirees in the last 5 years were identified as family heirlooms, and had been held in the family for an average of 84 years. In spite of this, and the fact that 57% of the items would have been passed down through the family if they hadn’t been sold, 44% of pensioners said that they felt no sentimentality about selling their heirlooms, highlighting changing priorities as people find it tougher to prepare for retirement.

Chinn went on to highlight the importance of proper financial planning, particularly when it comes to retirement:

“With a sensible savings and retirement plan in place you can keep those family valuables where they belong, in the family.”