A new study highlights ways that Americans are “correcting course” as they cope with changing life priorities on the way to saving for retirement.
According to the Merrill Lynch and Age Wave “Finances in Retirement: New Challenges, New Solutions,” a combination of factors, including increasing longevity and the “massive retirement wave” of boomers, is changing retirement itself with an amplification of “the opportunities and challenges of retirement in America, …. transforming [it] into a time of new beginnings, new challenges and new choices.”
The study caps a series of studies that began in 2012 to look at retirement through seven "life priorities": family, health, home, work, leisure, giving, and finances. It attempts to integrate all seven areas and offers suggestions -- or, for those who've gone down a less-than-effective path, "course corrections"-- for how people can better "do" retirement preparation and saving.
Since retirement preparation involves more than hitting financial targets, the report says, looking at those life priorities helps people to see “how they want to live in retirement, what they want to accomplish, how they can prepare for life’s challenges, and how the most important elements of their lives intersect and interact.”
And that in turn can prepare them to make course corrections to set them back on the road to a “more comfortable and secure retirement.”
Among the changes people are willing to make to improve their financial picture are cutting back on basic expenses (90 percent); seeking professional advice on money management or minimizing taxes, or increasing use of tax-protected retirement accounts (75 percent
Seventy percent would consider annuities and other financial products offering a guaranteed income, while 60 percent would adjust the timing of Social Security benefits.
More people—66 percent—are willing to sell real estate or personal belongings than to pull cash value from life insurance policies (43 percent). And sadly, 39 percent say they might ask social services or charities for support, while one out of four would resort to bankruptcy—the least popular option, but one that a quarter of respondents would still consider.
Other course corrections include changes to a health regimen to lessen the likelihood of catastrophic medical bills; closing the “family bank” by cutting off funds provided to other family members, and asking for repayment of loans; and going back to work after retirement.