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Luxuries we just won’t give up

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Posted: 3 pm ET

The necessities of retirement life that boomers identify are much more luxurious than previous generations enjoyed, according to a study by MainStay Investments, an arm of New York Life.

The retirement planning study asked the opinions of 1,049 employed boomers age 45 to 65, with a total of $100,000 or more of investable liquid assets what they considered luxuries, what they considered necessities and what they are willing to do to maintain these necessities in retirement.

According to the study, more than 50 percent of baby boomers believe that internet connections, shopping for birthdays and other special occasions, and pet care are basic needs, with 98 percent saying that health care is never a luxury. And almost 50 percent of those surveyed consider annual family vacations or weekend getaways, having elder care-home aid, professional hair cut-color, and helping children and grandchildren pay for education to be basic needs as well.

"We have clearly expanded beyond the three traditionally thought-of necessities -- clothes, food and shelter," says Matthew Leung, director and head of practice management programs at MainStay.

In order have these things, 40 percent of the boomers surveyed said they will have to delay retirement; 47 percent say they plan to downsize their homes. They also say they are saving more, adjusting their portfolio allocations, and seeking help from financial advisers -- in that order.

When asked which luxuries would be the most difficult to give up, traveling and dining out topped the list for men and women.

Isolated this way, these items do seem frivolous. But when I consider that my frugal, Depression-raised, 85-year-old mother-in-law will never give up her Wednesday hair appointment and is unlikely to let go of dinner out once week without a lot of protest, and has been beating the pants off of online bridge players worldwide for the last several years, they don't seem so frivolous.

Personally, I've never been very good at emulating my MIL's financial tricks. I don't save string or wash and fold used aluminum foil, but, hey, if that's what it takes, I'm not too old to learn.

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1 Comment
August 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

Saying "we'll downsize" to a smaller house isn't so easy. Someone will have to buy your house and that's not happening for us in this economical environment. Too many people afraid of losing a job or of being denied a mortgage. This scenario is about as bad as it gets for people without jobs.