Last month, I celebrated my 54th birthday. Maybe that's why when I heard about the Age of Opportunity study from The Hartford and MIT AgeLab, I was eager to hear the findings. The study measured the opinions and concerns of Americans both in and approaching retirement. (Ooh, ah. Ooh, ah. I fall into the second category, being within 10 years of retirement.)
The study found that "most retirees are pleased with their life, and both pre-retirees and retirees have a positive attitude about retirement overall." According to the study:
* "Retirees are more likely to say "I am happier now that I am retired" (77 percent) than those who have yet to retire are to say "I will be happier after I retire" (64 percent.)" (There is so much opportunity to look forward to when I eventually retire. I will write my book or maybe write two books. Or perhaps, I will study to become a yoga teacher. Ooh, ooh, maybe I will teach yoga to children - I don't think I am flexible enough to teach yoga to adults. However, my yoga teacher did just ask me to play a student in her upcoming yoga DVD. Imagine me a student star. The best is truly yet to come.)
* "Other than wishing they could retire earlier (35 percent of pre-retirees), many soon-to-be retirees see few negatives about retiring." (Hmm, hmm, hmm. That's good news.)
* "Twenty-six percent of those nearing retirement said they feel "hopeful" about retirement." (I second that opinion.)
* "Among those who did find something less than positive about the next phase of their lives, dealing with medical or health issues was cited most often (21 percent for pre-retirees)." (My dad always said "if you've got your health you're rich." While I didn't listen to him when I was younger, now I know he was a wise man.)
* When it comes to money, "pre-retirees said a milestone birthday (19 percent) or the realization that they are within 10 years of retiring (15 percent) were the two most common triggers for serious financial planning. It also seems that early planning plays off: More affluent retirees - those with $250,000 or more of investable assets -- are twice as likely to say they began serious financial planning when they got their first job." (Really, their first job? Really? I definitely did not take financial planning seriously when I was 22 years old. Did you? I cannot remember when I started to take financial planning more seriously. Maybe it was in my 30s.)
* Oh yes, there was one more interesting bit of news in the Age of Opportunity survey. "When asked what song they'd use to describe the retirement they have, or the one they hope to have, both groups most often chose I Did It My Way." (Really? A Frank Sinatra song? Come on baby boomers? Really? What song would I choose? Let's see. This is a difficult question. Wait, I've got it. I think for right now I'm going to choose Working on A Dream by boomer guy Bruce Springsteen.)
Yes, I am going to be working on my dream in my retirement years. The best is truly yet to come.
Note about Age of Opportunity Survey Methodology: From Oct. 3-16, 2011, GfK Roper conducted a total of 1,964 telephone interviews with adults 45 years and older using RDD (random digit dialing). To qualify, respondents must have retired in the past 2-10 years ("retiree") or plan to retire in the next 2-10 years ("pre-retiree"). These groups were further divided based on their household's total investable assets, with quotas for under $250,000 and $250,000 or higher.