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No. 1 goal — make $1 million

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

The No. 1 thing people older than 50 told opinion pollsters they still hoped to do in their lives is "have $1 million."

The No. 2 thing is attend their grandchild's high school graduation.

I can relate. I bet most of us can. While having $1 million doesn't mean what it once did, it still will go a long way toward ensuring a comfortable retirement -- one that will make it more likely you'll live long enough to enjoy life's important moments, such as a grandchild's passage to adulthood.

The survey from which these perspectives came was conducted by pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, which polled about 1,000 people older than 18. Some of the questions were aimed primarily at people older than 50. Overall, people who responded didn't see aging as a life crisis. While only 25 percent of people said they were "prepared" for growing  old, nearly 40 percent said they were "optimistic."

Given these choices, here's how people characterized themselves and their approach to aging:

  • Free Spirit, 42 percent: I don't think about it -- I just take life as it comes.
  • Explorer, 26 percent: Aging is a chance to see and do new things -- I look forward to exploring.
  • Prisoner, 10 percent: I feel trapped in an aging body and mind with no escape.
  • Warrior, 10 percent: I feel empowered to conquer all of the challenges of getting older without fear.
  • Artist, 9 percent: I feel that aging offers me the opportunity to create a future on my own terms.
  • Activist, 3 percent: I want to confront and change the way society thinks about aging.

There's a lot of talk about people working longer, but among those surveyed, 91 percent of those older than 65 were already retired from their primary occupation. The average age for those who consider themselves retired is about 58 -- men or women. Of those not retired, the average age they plan to retire is 65.

From a retirement planning perspective: 74 percent say they are primarily responsible for their own standard of living in old age, but 33 percent also believe family has a role to play. Some 29 percent say the government should kick in, and 16 percent believe corporations have a responsibility as well.

And one final insight: 21 percent of people between 51 and 64 say they have lied about their age, but slightly fewer -- 18 percent of those older than 64 -- admit they've fudged it.

Are they making themselves older -- so they can get the senior discount -- or younger? Inquiring minds want to know.

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