By John Diehl, CFP®
Consider a recent study by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab that found retirees are more likely to say, “I am happier now that I am retired” (77 percent) than pre-retirees are to say, “I will be happier after I retire” (64 percent). Other than wishing retirement could or could have come earlier, most respondents saw few negatives about what the Japanese call their “second life.”
The October 2011 Age of Opportunity study conducted by GfK Roper measured the opinions and concerns of Americans both in and approaching retirement. The study found that most retirees are pleased with their life, and both pre-retirees and retirees have a positive attitude about retirement overall.
The study found that mature Americans have definite priorities: health, family and friends first; money and material things a distant second:
- The No. 1 way retirees (44 percent) want to spend their time is spending more time with their spouse, family and friends.
- Four in five pre-retirees and three in four retirees say they want to live as long as their health lasts as opposed to as long as their money lasts (3 percent pre-retirees; 4 percent retirees).
- Retirees would be more willing to live in a more modest home (14 percent), drive a less expensive car (15 percent) or shop less (17 percent) than they would to give up activities that help them to connect to others, including dining out (10 percent), recreating (8 percent) or entertaining (7 percent).
These are healthy priorities. After all, it’s not “things” that make us happy in life, it’s relationships with people. A retirement plan should include time to nurture existing relationships and activities that help build new ones.
The study showed that most people understand this. One of the few things retirees would change, though, is to be better prepared financially and save more money before retiring.
Many financial planners recommend that pre-retirees actually “practice” being retired by closely tracking their expenses (especially for leisure and recreational activities) and living within their projected retirement income. Doing so can help ensure they have the resources to continue those all-important connections and lifestyle choices once they actually do retire.
John Diehl holds the Certified Financial PlannerTM designation and is a senior vice president for The Hartford’s wealth management business. The views expressed here are those of John Diehl and they should not be construed as investment advice. They are subject to change. John Diehl does not offer any financial planner services on behalf of The Hartford. Clients should contact their own advisors for specific advice.
“The Hartford” is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries, including the issuing companies of Hartford Life Insurance Company and Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company. The Hartford is a founding partner of the MIT AgeLab. The MIT AgeLab is not an affiliate or subsidiary of The Hartford.