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Retirement hopes vs. realities

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

All the retirement planning in the world won't help much when things don't work out the way you'd hoped, according to a recent survey by the Society of Actuaries that compared pre-retirement plans with post-retirement realities.

For instance, the median age pre-retirees picked for retirement was 65, but the median actual retirement age was much younger -- 58.

Many pre-retirees -- 41 percent -- are hoping for a gradual retirement, but 78 percent of retirees say they stopped working for pay all at once.

Nearly 50 percent of pre-retirees are expecting a financial incentive to retire, but among retirees, only 26 percent actually got fiscal encouragement to ease their departures.

Some realities are better. Some 85 percent of pre-retirees think they will miss their paychecks, while that's true for only 53 percent of those who have already left. Leaving work behind does have some negatives, retirees say, with 72 percent saying they miss their co-workers while 48 percent miss the mental stimulation.

Everybody is overly optimistic about life changes in retirement. Thirty-eight percent of pre-retirees and 54 percent of retirees expect to stay sufficiently mentally competent to manage their money, while 19 percent of pre-retirees and 33 percent of retirees expect to be able to drive forever.

Retirement for most people will last 30 or even 40 years, but a surprising number of both pre-retirees and retirees say they aren't giving much thought to how they will financially plan their retirement. Seven percent of pre-retirees and 8 percent of retirees say they aren't planning ahead at all, while 27 percent of pre-retirees and 29 percent of retirees say they just haven't given it any thought.

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