Report Reveals How Satisfied Retirees Built Their Nest Eggs

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The vast majority of today's retirees are happy with their retirement preparation. What can you learn from them?

The vast majority of today’s retirees are happy with their retirement preparation, according to financial services company TIAA’s recently released “Voices of Experience” survey.

TIAA undertook the survey to find out what life in retirement looks like for its clients. But the survey results also serve as a guide for people still building their nest eggs, as they illustrate how today’s retirees attained a satisfying post-work life.

Roger Ferguson, TIAA president and chief executive, writes in the introduction to the survey:

“Retirees have a wealth of wisdom that we have asked them to share, in their own words. You’ll find these ‘voices’ throughout the report. In many cases, interviewees expressed a desire to share what they’ve learned with successive generations.”

The 2016 study is a follow-up to the 1982 “Voices of Experience” study. The latest study echoed its predecessor, finding that 82 percent of respondents feel satisfied or very satisfied with the preparations they made for retirement.

The new study also found that respondents are retiring earlier. The share who retired before age 65 increased from 39 percent in 1982 to 54 percent today.

Early preparation is key to both a satisfying and an early retirement. At the same time, the study shows it’s never too late to prepare, as satisfaction rates remained high even for retirees who started preparing later in life.

Among survey respondents, the percentage of those who reported being “very satisfied” with retirement are:

  • 75 percent who started preparing for retirement before age 30
  • 64 percent who started between ages 30 to 49
  • 60 percent who started after age 50

Most (70 percent) of the retirees financially prepared for retirement with some type of annuity.

Besides preparing for retirement, staying active during retirement was also key to a satisfaction, the study found:

  • Survey respondents engaged in 10 or more activities: 76 percent are very satisfied with their retirement
  • One to four activities: 52 percent are very satisfied

The most commonly reported activities were spending time alone to pursue personal interests, and connecting and spending time with family.

Advice that survey respondents said they’d give others includes:

  • “Start planning earlier, take advantage of all resources available and remember that you cannot control everything. Allow for unexpected events with contingency plans.”
  • “Know your precise monthly retirement income. Be realistic about the lifestyle that income will support, and begin to ease into it 18 months before retirement.”
  • “Expect a period of missing the activities and interaction with people at work.”

What does a satisfying retirement look like to you? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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