After working non-stop for over forty years, retirement should ideally be something to look forward to because it’s practically one’s perpetual vacation. So how come the thought of retirement brings up feelings of fear and apprehension in many?
Based on the results of a recent online survey on retirement preparedness conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Prudential Investments, the top 3 financial priorities of retirees are:
- Having enough money to maintain lifestyle throughout retirement
- Not running out of money in retirement
- Affording medical/ health care
And yet, even when it’s clear what their priorities are, it seems their conviction to reach those goals was not nearly enough to drive them to decisive action when they still had the time. So now that they are already in their retirement years, their perceived shortcomings have become clearer too.
Aside from their top priorities, the survey also revealed what retirees wished they could have done to be better prepared for their retirement days. They wished they had saved more; started saving earlier; retired later; invested more aggressively; or consulted a financial advisor. The thinking goes, had they fulfilled at least one of these goals, maybe they’d feel more secure in their status and less fearful of what might happen.
The question is — can anyone really be assured that his/her retirement will go smoothly? After all, everything, including government regulations, interest rates, stocks, bond yields, social security benefits etc are always changing and flactuating and never in a static mode.
But then, some things have remained the same too. Yes, we now have robotics, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and even gene manipulation. But many diseases which have been there since the beginning are still here — still far from being completely understood, and even farther from being prevented and treated successfully.
Boomers’ Biggest Retirement Fear
So who’s to say given the illogical and downwright scandalous healthcare prices that 1 million or 2 million bucks will be enough to get one by, especially when today’s technology is encouraging a lifestyle that’s more sedentary and generally unhealthier? Plus, we’re facing the consequences of climate change too, so the air we breathe, to put it diplomatically, is not as clean, and our weather has become more erratic as well.
It’s no wonder that the fear of becoming sick and not being able to afford medical expenses is common among the retired, and not so much with those still working because their focus is still on saving and earning enough to make ends meet or if lucky, cover their monthly expenses.
What can make the situation even worse is the fact that because they’re already retired, the retirees no longer have the chance to catch up or further increase their retirement funds. Heck, even if you are young and healthy you don’t stand much of a chance of catching up in today’s society. But getting back to the retirees issue, unless they have outperforming investments that will keep compounding, only then the retired crowd may feel financially secure. We also shouldn’t forget that finances are only one part of the equation here as one’s health condition plays an important role too. If a retiree only has a certain amount in his/her retirement fund, and he/she gets sick with a disease that will deplete his/her funds in a hurry, a common scenario of our healthcare system, then that will be it. It’s important to also note, that sometimes it is not even the disease that kills someone; it’s the thought and fear of how one is going to pay for treatments they can not afford that can kill faster.
Fear of the unknown is understandable, so being prepared is always better than just winging it and hoping for the best. We all need to work if we want the reward of being able to retire in a relative or so-so comfort. But, and knock wood here, if we get sick, then we’ll just have to deal with it when it happens. It’s been said enough – life’s too short. And it will become shorter and miserable if we focus on ‘what ifs’.
For those who are already retired, they can’t do anything right now but accept what they have and enjoy what they can. But for those who are still in their working years, they still have time to listen and heed the advice of those who know better: Work hard. Save more (easier said than done). Invest wisely. Live healthy. Make smart choices. Give yourself time to rest and relax. Enjoy life.
Everyone will have to retire eventually. The choice to make your golden years a fearful or blissful experience is entirely up to you.