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“In Control,” Retirees Happy With Decision To Stop Working

Retirees happy with decision to call it quits, according to latest study.

Some of the first wave of the baby boomer generation who’ve retired in the last five years say they’ve “felt in control” and therefore retirees are happy with decision to stop working.

That’s the findings of the latest study from Ameriprise Financial that says 76 percent felt that way about their retirement. The findings, however, are based on a study of 1,000 retired baby boomers between 60 and 73 who had at least $100,000 in investable assets. It doesn’t count those who are relying more on Social Security than other financial sources of retirement.

What’s makes this particular group of retirees feel like they’re in control is that 53 percent cited their health and 52 percent cited their emotional preparedness.

That shows the importance of being ready for retirement and taking care of your health to shape how you feel in retirement.

The Ameriprise Retirement Triggers study says the top reasons cited by people of when they retire included that they wanted to enjoy their life or no longer wanted to work. That was cited by 51 percent of the people who responded.

Achieving their financial goals was cited by 17 percent. But not everyone felt they were in control of their decision. Some 16 percent say they were either forced to retire, lost their job or were offered incentives to retire earlier, according to the study.

“This study finds that choosing a retirement date can be as much an emotional decision as a financial one,” says Marcy Keckler, an Ameriprise vice president.

Even though most baby boomers feel confident after retirement, that hasn’t come without some doubts, Keckler says. It’s been more like a honeymoon period.

The study shows that 75 percent of retirees say they’re “very satisfied” with their lifestyle. About the same amount say they’re doing in retirement what they planned all along beforehand. About one third say the transition from work to retirement was an easy one for them.

Among those who said the transition wasn’t without its emotional difficulties, 37 percent say they lament losing contact with their coworkers. Another 32 percent says getting used to a different routine took some time getting and 22 percent say it was a transition to find meaningful ways to pass time.

Nearly two thirds say they got into a new routine quickly and 52 percent say that in retirement they have less free time than they thought they would have before retiring, Keckler says. The study even pointed out that 42 percent say retirement is more fun than they expected.

The financial security is a big part for how these group of baby boomers are feeling in the first five years of retirement – a sentiment not likely shared for those who haven’t done a good job of saving.

Some 57 percent say they’re “very satisfied” with their financial status and 37 percent are “somewhat satisfied.”

“This may help explain the fact that only one in ten of these new retirees have returned to work (in any capacity) during retirement,” Keckler says.

Among those who went back to work, Keckler says they’ve maintained they didn’t do it for the money but because they liked the opportunity or thought it would be mentally stimulating.

When it comes to second guessing themselves, this group of 1,000 baby boomers isn’t doing that. Some 98 percent say they’re happy with their decision to retire when they did.

But they say if they could do it again, 31 percent say they would change the timing of their retirement. That breaks down to 14 percent retiring earlier than they did and 17 percent saying they would wait.

The other regret they have is 29 percent say they wished they would have saved more money before they retired, Keckler says.

The findings of what people feel five years after they retire is quite different from what they felt before they retired, Keckler says. Some 47 percent say that even though they felt ready to retire, they had mixed emotions.

Another 25 percent said that a year away from retirement they couldn’t wait to retire and 21 percent said they weren’t ready.

In the timeline before people retire, the survey shows it’s definitely stressful, even if they’re happy with their decision today, Keckler says. About two in three say they felt that stress leading up to their decision. Even 25 percent today they feel stress even though they’ve been retired for five years.

“Younger boomers who are preparing for retirement should take note of what made their predecessors feel most confident leading up to retirement – as well as some of the things that they wish they would have considered more carefully before pulling the retirement trigger,” Keckler says.

When they were preparing for retirement, 75 percent say they were confident in paying for basic needs, 62 percent were confident about pursing their hobbies and 60 percent were confident about keeping their minds active, Keckler says.

What they had less confidence in was maintaining their social connections and preparing their estate plans. Some 45 percent worried about keeping social connections.

In one way this study differs from those who have a lot less in savings with only 29 percent saying Social Security or Medicare eligibility played a role in their retirement decision.

Keckler says that might be the case because 70 percent of the people surveyed are drawing a pension. Many of today’s baby boomers have to rely on a 401(k) than a company pension like our parents our grandparents did.

Before they decided to retire, 94 percent of the 1,000 surveyed say it was important for them to feel financially secure before they did so. That doesn’t mean that everything has gone smoothly.

The study shows that 22 percent are spending more than they thought they would and 24 percent say they underestimated how much they would need in retirement. Some 28 percent, however, say they aren’t spending as much as they had allotted.

“Oftentimes, the importance of preparing emotionally for retirement can get buried in all of the financial decisions that must be made important leading up to this milestone,” Keckler says. “In reality, emotional and financial preparation goes hand-in-hand.”

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