Boomers and Retirees Want Retirement Planning Do-over

A new Lincoln Retirement Institute survey of Baby Boomers and retirees (age 42+) reveals the majority would like a retirement planning do-over.

When asked what advice they would give to their younger selves, only 16% of those surveyed said they would tell themselves not to change anything they were doing to plan for retirement. More than one in four respondents said they would tell their youthful selves to begin saving for retirement sooner, according to a Lincoln Financial Group press release. Eighteen percent of those surveyed indicated they would counsel themselves to get more financial education.

In addition, 15% said they would advise themselves to pay down debt such as high interest credit cards, and another 12% replied they would instruct themselves to be more aggressive in their investing. The results did not change for respondents in different income brackets, the release said.


If given the opportunity to instruct a younger version of themselves about which retirement challenges to spend more time preparing for, nearly one-third of respondents said they would do a better job of creating income that would last a lifetime. Another 27% would advise themselves to better prepare to deal with rising health care costs and the possibility of needing long-term care, and 19% said they would instruct themselves to plan to rely more on personal savings instead of Social Security or a pension.

Only 9% said they would tell their younger selves to be better prepared to ride the ups and downs of the market, and 6% indicated they would want to better prepare for the effects of inflation over time.

Of those survey respondents worried about having enough money to finance their retirement years, almost 70% said they would return to work if they ran out of money. A scant 5% said they would look to a financial adviser for counsel at that point, while 12% of survey respondents said they would turn to family members for help. Other options selected included relying on self, downsizing lifestyle, taking out a reverse mortgage on a home, and turning to prayer.

Tipping Points

Significant life events served as the motivation to start retirement planning in earnest, the survey found. Almost one-third of respondents (30%) said the death or serious illness of a loved one made them think more carefully about the importance of saving for the future. Other catalysts included the birth of a child or grandchild (12%), children moving out of the house (15%), changing jobs (11%), and the reality of aging.

Boomer and retiree men were five times more likely than women to consider the importance of retirement savings after changing jobs, and women were twice as likely as men of the same age to think more carefully about saving for their future after the death of a spouse or parent.

More than one-third of survey respondents said their spouse or partner has played the most significant role in helping them prepare for retirement, with boomer and retiree women (40%) were only slightly more likely than men (34%) to say so.

The survey was sponsored by the Lincoln Retirement Institute and conducted by Zogby International via a nationally representative telephone survey of 500 adults, age 42 and older, of all income levels in October 2007.

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