I know I said I was going to tell you the secret to living to 122, but I got distracted.
A few days ago I read this post suggesting that it’s a mistake to retire at 62. Actually, it sounds like Steve McDonald thinks retirement sucks no matter what age you are. He says the more he learns about retirement, the less he understands “why the heck we are in such a rush to get there.”
I’ll concede that it’s a mistake to retire before you have the money to retire--and of course the longer you work, presumably the more financially ready you will be for retirement. There is that.
But beyond the money, I just don’t think there’s much evidence to support his assertion that retired folks are unsatisfied with retirement:
“Most retirees won’t admit it but, according to the research, retirement isn’t any better than working. The American Institute of Stress reports that retirement is ranked as the No. 10 biggest stressor out of 43 possibilities.”
Stressful life events
Do I agree that retirement should land on the list of top 43 stressors along with marriage (#7), marital reconciliation with mate (#9), pregnancy (#12), taking on a mortgage (#20), and outstanding personal achievement (#25)? Sure. But I wouldn’t try and argue that people shouldn’t get married, reconcile with a spouse, have kids, buy a house, or achieve something great. Most people are happy to do all those things. Clearly change, even for the better, can cause stress. But I don’t think work has anything on retirement.
That same American Institute of Stress reports that “numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.” The studies they site show:
-80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress,
-40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful,
-65% of workers said that workplace stress had caused difficulties, and
-62% routinely find that they end the day with work-related neck pain.
And workers aren't feeling engaged at work either. The latest Gallup study on the State of the American Workplace shows fewer than one-third of workers feel engaged at work, 68% are not engaged or are actively disengaged.
I suppose it’s up for interpretation what “any better than working” is. But I am happier in retirement than I was when I was working. So by that measure, I would say retirement is better than working. I mean if you’re into that whole happiness thing. The actual research shows I am not alone.
-A University of Michigan study shows 62% report being very happy in retirement, 32% moderately happy, and only 7% report being not at all satisfied in retirement.
-An Ameriprise Financial survey shows that 75% of boomers that retired in the last five years say they are very satisfied with retirement. And among those who felt in control of the decision to retire, 98% were satisfied with retirement.
- And a recent Mass Mutual study showed similar results: 72% of retirees report being extremely or quite happy, and 67% say they are extremely or quite relaxed.
Anyway, I guess I’m mostly preaching to the choir here. But if you want to retire, and you have the money, don’t worry. I think you’ll like it better than working.
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