Recent Retirees Still See Room for Optimism

Survey data shared by Spectrem Group shows “overwhelming satisfaction” among both recent and long-term retirees with respect to their personal and financial lives after work; many could have sought advice earlier.

A new Spectrem Group analysis that examines the attitudes, behaviors and concerns of recent retirees—out of the workforce less than a decade—and those retired for 20 years or more, reveals overwhelming satisfaction with life in retirement.

“A whopping eight out of ten U.S. retirees find life in retirement better than they had originally anticipated,” the firm reports. “At the same time, however, the report shows that many retirees failed to begin planning until just five years before they left the workforce, with nearly a quarter acknowledging that it wasn’t until the year they retired that they started planning for life after work.”

The failure to plan and seek advice almost certainly means many workers are achieving sub-optimal outcomes during the period leading up to and transitioning into retirement. In fact, the quantitative portion of the study indicates that only half of retirees sought any professional advice for their retirement planning, with nearly a third indicating that the reason they didn’t was that “in their opinion professional retirement planning services cost more than the value delivered.”

“Once retired, the lion’s share of retirees’ monthly income comes from pensions and Social Security, which together comprise 58% of monthly cash flow among those surveyed,” researchers explain. Nearly seven in ten retirees said they use a financial adviser to help manage these responsibilities.

While retirees share common everyday concerns about budgeting and spending, the single greatest challenge they expressed was in managing and dealing with medical care, a concern shared by one in four (25%) retirees.

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Other key findings show about four in 10 retirees claim Social Security benefits at age 62, the earliest age one is eligible to receive the benefit.

“Just 27% of retirees previously worked for companies with a workplace financial wellness program that educated them about retirement, Social Security, insurance and other matters relevant to planning for retirement,” the research finds. “Fully a quarter of retirees continue to have a mortgage on their primary residence, and almost four in ten have a mortgage or loan on a second home. The longer an investor has been in retirement, the more likely they are to have mortgages or loans on their property.”

While the vast majority (89%) of retirees have a will, only about half (54%) have an estate plan. Those with children are more likely to have an estate plan than childless retirees.

“The good news is that most retirees are in the enviable position to pursue new interests, step back from the day-to-day stresses of life, and spend more time with their family,” concludes Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. “However, ensuring sufficient income in retirement requires advanced planning. Our research has found that retirees who receive help from an adviser in planning for retirement often appreciate the fact that a plan is in place, and are reassured that their assets will likely outlive them.”

Additional data and analysis about the attitudes, beliefs and concerns of retirees regarding their financial wellness in retirement can be found at