12/19/2011 3:55 PM ET|
7 misconceptions about retired life
Expectations don't always match reality, according to a recent poll that identified several potential areas of disappointment.
Many people are postponing their current wants to save for retirement. And perhaps retirement will bring little stress and plenty of time for hobbies and travel. But some retirees say they are not enjoying retirement as much as they thought they would.
A quarter of retirees think life in retirement is worse than it was before they retired, according to a recent poll of 1,254 individuals age 50 and older by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. And 44% of retirees think their overall quality of life is about the same as it was while they were working. Only 29% of retirees say leaving the workforce made their life better. With that in mind, here are seven misconceptions about life in retirement.
You will have less stress
More than half (55%) of workers age 50 and older expect retirement to be less stressful than it was when they were working. But only 39% of retirees report having less stress in their lives than they did when employed full time. "There are some false expectations about what life in retirement is going to be like," says Gillian SteelFisher, a research scientist and the assistant director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program. "The stress may be related to a decline in health or finances." More than a third (35%) of retirees say their stress level is about the same, and almost a quarter (24%) say they now face more stress than they did while employed.
Travel and hobbies will fill your days
Exploring new places is a common retirement goal, with 59% of older workers expecting to do more of that in retirement. But 34% of retirees say they currently travel to places they want to go less than they did in the past, and 35% fit in vacations about as often as they did while employed.
"There is a common expectation that this will be a time to get out and do all the things you want to do, and then we find out, in reality, not only are they not taking these exotic cruises, but they are spending less time traveling in retirement than they did in the five years before," says SteelFisher. "There may be health issues that may be making travel more difficult than they might have anticipated, and it may be that the cruise was a little bit more expensive than they anticipated."
And while 68% of people over age 50 who are not yet retired expect to have more time for sports, hobbies and volunteering, many retirees say they have the same amount (43%) or less (20%) time for activities they like.
You will take better care of yourself
Almost half (48%) of older workers say they will exercise more in retirement than they do now. But just because you have more time to exercise doesn't mean you will. Some 34% of retirees say they get less exercise than they did while employed, and 41% get about the same amount. You probably won't start eating healthier in retirement either, even if you have plenty of time to cook. Most people's eating habits stayed the same in retirement (52%), and 12% of retirees say they now eat less healthfully than they did while in the workforce.
Your health will hold up
"People envision that retirement will be a chance to do a lot of things that they haven't done before, and they haven't really thought about the health issues they will run into as they age," says Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Most older workers (69%) expect to maintain their current level of health in retirement. But only 43% of retirees say their health is now similar to what it was five years prior to retirement. Some 39% of retirees say their health is now worse than it was before retirement.
"As retirees start to need long-term care for themselves or their spouses, they experience stress because of the concern about what options are going to be open to them," says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The retirees who are experiencing more health issues than they anticipated, or having difficulty paying for things like long-term care, are feeling like retirement is not like they thought it would be."
You can maintain your current standard of living
The majority of employees age 50 and older (62%) expect to be able to maintain their current standard of living in retirement. But unless you saved very diligently, you may have to make some spending cuts in retirement. More than a third (35%) of retirees say their financial ability to live comfortably is worse than it was while they were working.
"A lot of people retire and they discover that the amount they thought they would need to live comfortably is not the amount that their investments and Social Security and their house end up yielding them," says Blendon. "People are not looking forward enough in terms of the health issues they will face and the actual financial income they are really going to have."
Most retirees (63%) say you need an annual income of $50,000 or more to live comfortably in retirement, and more than a third (35%) admit they do not currently have their target level of income. Health care expenses are a major problem, with one in five survey respondents saying he or she will have trouble paying for health care. (Are you saving enough for retirement? Find out with this MSN Money calculator.)
You'll improve your relationship with family members
Many current workers expect their relationship with their spouse (45%) and other family members (40%) to get better in retirement. But only just over a third of seniors report an improved relationship with a partner (34%) and other family members (35%). Most retirees say their relationship with family members (61%) and their spouse (62%) stayed the same in retirement.
Retirement is a choice
We like to think that we will be able to retire when we hit a certain age or savings goal. Most current workers (60%) expect to retire at age 65 or later, often because they need the money or health benefits from their job, but also because they enjoy working and want to make a difference. But only about a quarter (26%) of retirees held on to their jobs that long. Retirees (58%) generally say they left their jobs at the same or an earlier age than they initially thought they would, perhaps due to a layoff, buyout or health problem.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Been retired 5 years and loving it. My 5 rules for retirement
1. Live where it's always warm
2. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish
3. Make new friends
5. Remember your not a youngster anymore(Don't need to prove anything to anybody)
I have been retired nine years and now at 62 I have to say life is just fine. Also as others have said here, when you retire you will find that your life will be different than you thought it would be. The things I thought I would be doing during retirement, I am not doing. You can just take so much travel and cruise ships before feeling worn out.
I have found that a better approach is a measured daily routine that includes a hour of exercise, a little project around the house to keep busy works best for me. Today, I woke up at 7:30 AM and will go get something to eat, come back and work on installing a new garage door opener. No hurry as I have all day to do it, so It is this weeks major project I have been planning for a while. I have found it is the little things that mean the most. This life style has spoiled me rotten and I love every minute of it.
Update: My garage door opener works just fine. it was a great week and looking forward to next week and a new project to work on.
One final note. I'm not retired, yet. Looking to at around the age of 55-56. I'm 50 now.
Observing my parents vs. my wife's parents has been an eye opener for me and my spouse. Both have been retired for about 10 years.. My parents did lots of things while working, but now that they are retired, they have a ball each and every day. They are debt free, financially set because they saved diligently while they worked and raised two kids that are responsible and don't come to them for handouts. Most importantly, they eat very healthy and exercise. When I say healthy, I mean extreme. Dad plays Master's volleyball and mom plays tennis year around. They take not prescription meds thanks to a diet full of veggies and fruits.
My wife's parents are the opposite. Went into retirement with the expectation that the gov't will take care of them, which in part, they do through social security and a handsome military pension. In addition, they receive an additional private pension from work after retirement from the military. No savings at all. Not even a paid off house. Thanks to constantly refinancing, they have "NO" equity at ages 78 & 79. But it's not enough because they live beyond their means and give money constantly to 'problem' kids, grandkids and now great-grandkids. They have this mentality that by giving 'lousy' offspring $ all the time, they are equalizing them compared to the 'good' offspring. End result? "Good" offspring that resent them for the inequality and the "bad" offspring that resent them because they owe them so much and have control over their lives.
3 of their 'responsible' kids (my wife is one) had to bail them out last summer so they would not lose their house. Now, they are filing for bankruptcy. Very sad because deep down, they are good 'salt-of-the-earth' people. They just don't' have any discipline and make bad choices based on foolish advice.
And the kicker? Their income from SS and pensions is about 10k more than what my parents pull from SS and investments.
In addition, they don't practice healthy eating nor do they exercise. They spend gobs of $ on prescriptions and make fun of people who eat carefully and exercise.
My parents live life to the fullest. Give to charity. Travel the US and world. Play sports. They are happy.
My MIL & FIL are physical and financial wrecks due to poor planning and the mentality that the gov't will provide for them.
You reap what you sow.
"If you were dull and boring before retirement, you will probably be dull and boring after retirement too. Retirement is not a cure all for personal problems."
This sums it up, and I think if you depend on others for your happiness that you are probably doomed also- take the bull by the horns and get with it!
But, my retire is far from what I expected.
Why? because my wife died four years into our retirement. I tried to "move on" but I find myself unable to do so. If it were not for my kids and grandkids, I would be dead by now. They are the only thing that keeps me going.
It's all in your head ... Happiness that is. Whether retired or working, you decide how happy you want to be. I was forced to retire a few years sooner than I had planned (company reorg), but after a few weeks or months of trying to figure out something else to do, decided to stay retired and enjoy the days I had left.
Nothing, I mean nothing, is more important to a happy retirement than having something to do. Just having something to "look forward to", is key to a happy retirement. It can be anything. For me it is playing poker 3 or 4 days a week. Been playing all my life, not for big stakes, just a small stakes grinder. But it gives me something to do and believe it or not, I actually make a little extra spending money. Keeps the mind active, meeting a lot of new people everyday.
STAY POSITIVE. The cynical whiners are the ones that die unhappy. Those looking to blame someone else for their woes, 'oh it's the government's fault, you know them, those people, the politicians in DC, or wherever. Let's blame them all for our own lot in life.'
It's a shame people just don't accept their own shortcomings and then do something to improve them. Of course they'd rather just bitch about it. I've heard the 'chicken littles' my whole life , but guess what, the sky is still just as blue. As blue as you want to make it, that is...
I got laid off about 4years ago and decided to not go back to work since my husband was about to retire. After having to do it all.....and I mean almost everything....I am still trying to just relax and enjoy doing as little as possible. We really didn't get to travel much while working...due to different schedules and kids in school....so now we just take our time doing whatever we want. I think most people think they have to RUSH and DO This or RUSH and DO that. What I've found in retiring is that I can just take my time....if I don't get to it today....then I do it tomorrow or the next day. I think some people just have a hard time relaxing. I pamper myself more now since I'm not stressed for time. I use to live for the weekends....just to end up...running around and tiring myself. I think maybe most people just need a Course....in HOW TO RELAX. Learning how to relax and take your time.......then your body feels better..you have more energy...to do whatever you want. When I look back...I don't know how I did everything I did. Just thinking about it tires me. I think most people get bored....because they just don't know how to relax and enjoy the simple life.
Wonderful Nana writes: "Have faith in yourself and spouse and it's magical. But do divorce yourself from adult children finances. They will drain your well dry no matter how much it kills ya."
I can't recommend this last statement enough. We live in a culture of entitlement. And often the worse ones are the children and grandchildren.
I've done volunteer financial counseling in my church for years and come across this problem often. Adult children and grand children, so selfish and with the entitlement mentality, drain their parents and grand-parents of $, before and after retirement.
It's a travesty. Kick em out. Reward the kids and grandkids that do good and avoid the temptation to try to 'equalize' the irresponsible ones. It's a losing proposition. They won't 'get it' until they fall on their faces themselves. It will never end and they'll keep coming back for more money, more problems and more drama.
I'm surprised the article did NOT mention this as an unrealistic expectation in retirement. Especially in this day and age when gen x & y seem to expect everything to be given to them without sacrifice.
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