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LTC TV: What Do the New Old Really Want?

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Recent retirees say they might start with cutting their travel budgets to make ends meet in retirement; pre-retirees are more likely to say they would move into a lower-priced home.

A team from Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford (NYSE:HIG), and the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) presented those findings earlier this week at a press conference in New York.

The team commissioned a survey of topics such as Americans’ attitudes about aging, their expectations for retirement and their thoughts about caregiving. A polling firm collected responses from 655 pre-retirees ages 45 and older who expect to retire in 2 to 10 years and 658 retirees ages 45 and older who have retired within the past 2 to 10 years

Hartford sells annuities, and it also sells a rider that can help life insurance policyholders pay for long-term care (LTC) costs, but it sells no stand-alone long-term care insurance (LTCI) products. The survey team focused mainly on topics of interest to pre-retirees and recent retirees who are still in good health, not on LTC issues.

But the team did ask a question that might be of interest to insurers, producers and others who want to know what potential LTCI prospects might be willing to give up to come up with the cash to pay for LTCI coverage.

The team found that retired and working survey participants held similar views about most of the suggested strategies for cutting spending.

About 17% of the participants in both groups said they might save money by shopping less, and about 10% said they might dine out less. Only about 9% said they would reduce spending on recreational activities, such as expenses associated with playing golf or tennis.

But about 21% of the pre-retirees said they would consider moving into a less expensive home to save money; only 14% of the retirees said they would be most likely to use that strategy to save money.

When pollsters asked about vacations and travel, 19% of the retirees identified that line item as the best place to finding spending cuts. Only 11% of pre-retirees said they would start with cutting their travel budgets.

AgeLab Director Joseph Coughlin noted that older U.S. consumers seem to be more optimistic than older consumers in other developed countries and are telling pollsters they think they will make “this retirement thing” work.

“What is ‘this thing’ that we’re going to make work?” Coughlin asked. “The notion of retirement is a work in progress. We are now looking far beyond the fairways and beach walks to the little things that matter.”

The accommodate the incoming retirees’ attitudes about retirement, insurers and other companies have to come up with products and services that help provide a lifestyle, not just a stream of revenue, Coughlin said.

Coughlin also (see the video below) talked about the need for companies to come up with a wide range of products that can help the aging members of the Silent Generation and the aging baby boomers maintain the kind of lifestyle they want to have, not simply retirement savings and income products.

Coughlin suggested, for example, that aging consumers may want new types of home modification services, to help them stay in their homes as long as possible.