The reality experienced by actual retirees diverges from the expectations voiced by pre-retirees, suggesting the retirement outlook is transforming with the times.
“The retirement landscape is changing, with many workers planning to work past the traditional retirement age of 65,” explains Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS), which recently released a report comparing and contrasting retirement perceptions and actual experiences. ”This new vision of retirement among workers is a tremendous departure from the experiences of those already in retirement.”
According to the TCRS report, retirement arrived sooner than planned for most retirees, at a median age of 62. Reasons cited by retirees include:
• Organizational changes at their place of work
• Job loss
• Being unhappy with their job or career
• Receiving a retirement incentive or buyout
• Ill health
• Family responsibilities
• Financial ability to do so
Retirees also anticipate a long retirement—a median of 28 years—with limited income and competing financial priorities.
“Today’s retirees envision spending decades in retirement, albeit with limited savings and means,” says Collinson. “Most retirees are reliant on Social Security. For many, a major unexpected expense or the need to pay for long-term care could prove financially devastating.”
Few retirees believe they’ve built a large enough nest egg; the median total household savings in all retirement accounts among retirees at the time of their retirement was $131,000. A precipitous gap exists between those who are married ($225,000) and unmarried ($53,000). The annual household income among retirees is a median of $32,000.
The majority of retirees indicate Social Security is one of their current sources of income, and a large portion of that majority relies on Social Security as primary income.
Retirees identify myriad financial obligations, including “just getting by” and covering basic living expenses, paying healthcare expenses, paying off mortgages, paying off credit card debt and continuing to save for retirement.
Despite these obligations, retirees are generally happy and have a strong sense of purpose in life. Most consider themselves in good or excellent health.
“Retirees may be facing formidable financial challenges; however, they are also finding meaningful ways to spend their time and enjoy life,” Collinson says.
Since retiring, retirees are spending their time on a variety of activities, including:
• Spending more time with family and friends
• Pursuing hobbies
• Doing volunteer work
• Taking care of grandchildren
Contrary to pre-retiree expectations, just a small fraction of retirees are currently employed or self-employed.
“Given that so many retirees are self-reported to be in good health, the question naturally arises whether opportunities are available for them to get a job or pursue other ways to earn income in order to become more financially healthy,” Collinson says.
“One of the most important things within reach that retirees and pre-retirees can do is formulate a financial plan to identify opportunities, vulnerabilities, and ways to address them.”
Published with permission from RISMedia.