By Bart Astor, Next Avenue Contributor
How do pre-retirees and retirees feel about retirement these days? Glad you asked.
Since this is “National Retirement Planning Week” (dreamed up by 40-odd financial industry and advocacy groups), a passel of retirement surveys have just been released. I’ve read them — so you don’t have to — and here are the highlights and four action steps to take based on the findings.
Interestingly, the results are somewhat contradictory.
Mixed Messages From Retirement Surveys
On the one hand, 60% of Americans worry they won’t ever have enough money to retire, according to a survey from the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), and 55% ofboomers told PNC Financial they worry their savings may not hold out for as long as they live. The top financial concern of boomers (cited by 53%) in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Employee Financial Wellness 2015 survey was “not being able to retire when I want to.” Yet about half of the New York Life retireessurveyed said they wish they had retired four or five years earlier than they did.
(MORE: 3 Ways to Avoid Outliving Your Nest Egg)
Some of those retirees in the New York Life survey are undoubtedly enjoying theirnewfound freedom. But others likely wish they’d retired earlier because their failing health has kept them from doing some things they’d planned to do in retirement. Even when you take finances out of the equation, though, about half of the retirees surveyed said they should have taken the plunge earlier. Most of the retired men felt they should have retired between three and five years earlier and most of the retired women would have preferred retiring one to three years earlier.
“Many of the clients we work with didn’t realize until after they retired that they should have done it sooner,” said David Cruz, senior managing director at New York Life.
Survey after survey released this week, however, shows that roughly half of non-retired boomers plan to postpone their retirement, usually because their savings are coming up short. (The boomers PNC surveyed said $1.3 million is the minimum amount they think they need to have saved for retirement.) According to IRI, last year about a quarter of boomers postponed a planned retirement.
(MORE: Why You’ll Need Less In Retirement Than You Think)
One Retirement Worry: Free Time
A second, and important, reason cited by working boomers for postponing retirement was uncertainty about what they’d do with themselves.
In IRI’s survey, about a fifth of the boomers listed not knowing what they’d do with theirfree time as one of their top two retirement concerns.
While researching my personal finance books, I’ve heard many people worry about retiring, saying they have no hobbies and that they’d go stir crazy without a job and purpose. But as I point out in my book, AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life,chances are, sooner or later in retirement, you’ll decide that there are things you want to do other than veg out on the couch. Then you’ll start filling your days with exciting and rewarding challenges, such as volunteering or continuing your education.
Now for four action items based on the latest retirement surveys:
Start dipping your toes into the retirement-life waters. Volunteer. Take a class. Join a gym. Explore what turns you on and begin to make preparations for retirement. Then maybe you’ll become one of those retirees who said they wished they’d retired sooner.
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