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5 retirement myths busted

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Retirement is an emotional issue, as well as a financial one, and a new survey shows just how emotional it can be by exploding five commonly believed myths.

In a survey conducted in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity, Fidelity Investments amassed data on the nonfinancial factors that weigh on people’s decision about when to retire.

Some of these factors are how employees feel about their jobs and coworkers, their desire to spend time with family and grandchildren, and their overall health and the lifestyle they want when they leave the workforce. Read: 1 strategy financial advisors can use to help women

Respondents came from a pool of more than 12,000 retirement savers and recent retirees, age 55 or older, and the answers can be surprising.

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1. People won’t retire until they have enough money.

Um, not true. While it may seem like common sense not to leave the workplace until there’s enough (or close to enough) in the bank to pay retirement expenses, 49 percent of people said that wasn’t the factor on which they were basing their decision.

Instead they were focusing on a specific date, saying that they want to have enough time to enjoy their retirement.

If they have to, they’ll adapt their lifestyle during retirement to fit what money they’ve managed to accumulate.

On the other hand, 51 percent were determined to stick it out till the bank balance hit the right level, because they want to be sure to have enough savings to enjoy their retirement years.

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2. Retirement means spending time with your spouse.

In reality, absence may make the heart grow fonder, depending on who’s answering the question.

While nearly 60 percent of male respondents are looking forward to spending retirement time with their wives, the ladies aren’t quite so eager to have so much time with their husbands.

They’re more eager to be doing things with the grandkids (almost 70 percent) than with their husbands (43 percent).

And you thought retirement would be a great chance for a second honeymoon.

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3. Many retirees are struggling to get by and living with regret.

Here’s one place where the picture isn’t as bleak as you might think.

Although a sizeable number of retirees do wish they’d saved more (36 percent) and almost as many wish they’d started saving earlier (33 percent), retirees are overwhelmingly glad to be out of the workplace and enjoying their lives.

A whopping 82 percent of retirees say they left work at the right time; even more — 85 percent — say that retirement is the most rewarding time of their lives.

It seems nobody misses the office. And while they might be cutting back on expenses to manage on what they have, 79 percent say it was easier to do so than they had expected.

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4. People work in retirement because they have to.

While some retirees are definitely commuting to a job because of necessity, a surprising number of those who are still actively working are doing so for reasons other than — or in addition to — the money.

Asked why they’re working in retirement, 61 percent said it’s because “they like what they do” and 48 percent also said “feeling valued” was a reason to continue working.

Of course, not all working retirees have taken jobs in the same profession they pursued before retirement.

Many are taking the opportunity to “follow their bliss” and do work that offers more personal satisfaction or gives them the chance to pursue interests or assist causes they didn’t have the time or opportunity for in the past.

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5. Retirement is all about traveling and pursuing hobbies.

It might still be for some, but others want a chance to do — nothing.

As stressful as today’s pace is, it’s obviously taking a toll on workers eager to have a few minutes (or days, or weeks, or even months) to call their own.

Hammocks, porches, and stacks of to-be-read books are beckoning lots of workers ready to call it quits.

While some retirees responded that they planned on taking up pastimes they couldn’t indulge while working, or were eager to start volunteering for various groups or charities, an impressive 72 percent said the main reason they were retiring was just to have more leisure time: “the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they wanted, even if that was nothing more than relaxing.”