January 29, 2004
We know you are one-of-a-kind, but that doesn't stop academics from trying to pigeonhole your behavior. Gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, author of "Age Wave, Age Power," says retirees can be classified under four types based on retirement behavior and financial preparedness.
Ageless Explorers (27% of retirees fall into this category) "personify a new ideal retirement. They would rather be too busy than risk being bored." There's no room for penny pinching on these active seniors' calendars. That's because in pre-retirement, the majority planned ahead and contributed to IRAs (73%), and 401(k)s (about 50%).
Comfortable Contents (19%) have more traditional views about retirement. They are happy to relax and pass away their golden years with peaceful calm. Like Ageless Explorers, most had their retirement finances solidly in place to assure that their afternoon catnaps wouldn't be interrupted by calls from bill collectors.
Live for Todays -- as the name implies -- fill their retirement with activities that they never tried during their pre-retirement years. ("Hal, it's your turn to bungee!") Though this may be the fun crowd to hang out with, they aren't quite as financially prepared for retirement as they'd like to be. Less than half of this group (22% of retirees in the study) invested in various taxable and tax-advantaged retirement accounts to get ready for their post-9-to-5 life.
Sick and Tireds (32%) got that way because they're more likely to be found still toiling in the working world. Those who fall in this group failed to prepare sufficiently for retirement, which greatly tarnishes their golden years. Less than one-quarter of these retirees contributed to IRAs and 401(k)s in their early years. And they did not put away much in taxable accounts, either.
While the size of the cash cushion certainly correlates to retirement happiness, even more important is the amount of time spent amassing a retirement kitty. For those who want to set themselves up for the ideal after-work life (our retirement planning service -- TMF Money Advisor -- can help you do it, by the way), we suggest an additional classification -- Fools.