Retirement: Baby Boomers Are Loving It – On Less

Retired boomers are showing high satisfaction with retirement, despite the dire predictions

Aug 3, 2014 at 12:44PM

Retirees
Flickr / pedrosimoes7.

Though many worried that the Great Recession would put a damper on baby boomers' retirement plans, this seems not to be the case. A new study by T. Rowe Price shows that not only are boomers enjoying their golden years, but they are doing it with less money than financial analysts thought possible.

Faring well, with less
The survey encompassed more than 2,500 respondents, approximately 40% of whom were at least 50 years of age, and still working. Interestingly, it was this group that exhibited more concern regarding retirement, voicing worries about having to drop their standard of living or running out of money.

Still, these boomers are quite well prepared. Median household assets are a robust $465,000, and 61% feel that they will be able to plump that number further to $693,000. In addition, 60% do not feel that they will have to use their home equity to make ends meet after they stop working.

When it comes to those who have already entered retirement, the situation looks better still. Of those retired for almost three years, 89% were at least somewhat satisfied with their situation. More than 50% reported living at least as well as when they were working, even though they are living on a mere 66% of their former income.

Planning is key
This is amazing, especially since most financial analysts – including T. Rowe Price – recommend saving enough to support spending 75% of pre-retirement income once you retire. The best part is that these retirees are living it up on a median household asset level of $473,000 – a smidge less than the still-working boomers already have saved up for their own retirement years.

How are they managing this feat? One big factor seems to be flexibility, whereby retirees adjust their spending depending upon the market. Although nearly half have a withdrawal plan and have not withdrawn more than 4% annually from their retirement portfolios since they retired, they prefer to spend less rather than take a chance on reducing the value of their portfolio.

Another reason that these retirees are doing so well is that they have planned well. Having a retirement plan – and saving early – will put you at the head of the class when it comes to having a comfortable, satisfying retirement.

Some recent research from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research shows just how important this aspect can be. Though the paper acknowledges that half of families today may face a less-than-stellar retirement, it offers a smart and simple fix: save 15% each year for 30 years. Saving more money for longer spans of time will give you more, as will working past age 65.

For middle-income households, this supplementation of Social Security benefits and pensions should allow for a post-retirement income that is 71% of what families made when they were working. This plan, it seems, should almost guarantee a super-comfortable retirement.

The rub, of course, is actually coming up with such a plan, and sticking to it. If you feel that you cannot realistically save 15% annually, then save 10%. The point is to do something, even if you think you are not doing enough. After all, those retirees living well on about two-thirds of their prior income were likely told that they would need about 10% more to do so. When it comes time for your own retirement, you may be pleasantly surprised by the efficacy of your own plan, as well.

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