By Cyril Tuohy
The more retirees plan for life after work, the happier they are -- not just in matters of the wallet but in matters of the soul and the heart.
Financial planners have always known that the more financial planning is conducted before retirement, the more it’s likely to lead to better outcomes.
It turns out that also holds true in other areas, according to a new MassMutual study titled “Hopes, Fears and Reality – What Workers Expect in Retirement and What Steps Help Them Achieve the Retirement They Want.”
“The happiest retirees provide us with a roadmap for success, which is especially instructive for those who are close to embarking on the journey,” Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president, MassMutual Retirement Services, said in a news release.
Planners and financial advisors are paid to focus on their clients’ financial well-being. Advisors who nudge clients to think more broadly about their happiness in retirement would be doing their clients an even bigger favor, according to the study’s findings.
In the end, a well-balanced life in retirement is more valuable to a retiree than one focused on a single aspect of life after work.
Those who began focusing on building stronger connections to their spouse, reaching out to old friends and making new friends, and who planned for the pursuit of new interests were more likely to enjoy retirement, the survey of 1,817 preretirees and retirees found.
As expected, retirees who took concrete financial steps -- such as planning for Social Security withdrawals, careful retirement budgeting and boosting savings -- report feeling more financially secure in retirement, the survey found.
Matthew Greenwald, president and CEO of Greenwald & Associates, which conducted the study on behalf of MassMutual, said the findings reveal that for many people, retirement is turning out to be a pleasant experience.
“Retirees express positive sentiment about their lives despite the fact that nearly half of them retired earlier than they planned,” Greenwald said.
As many as 82 percent of respondents report enjoying themselves in retirement and 80 percent reported having more free time, the survey found.
Retirees are by and large a well-adjusted, happy group, with 72 percent reporting themselves to be “extremely/quite happy,” and another 23 percent reporting themselves to be moderately happy, the survey also found.
Almost no one is happy all the time in retirement, however, and leading the negative surprises in life after work are financial problems.
The survey found 17 percent of respondents reporting financial problems as their “one negative surprise about retirement.” That was followed by 13 percent of respondents who reported that being too busy was their one negative surprise in retirement.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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