These days, there are many bleak news reports on the topic of retirement preparedness and the crisis that looms for those who are living longer, financially unstable and unhappy lives. But for some people’s “golden years,” having a plan in place has lead to a happy time later in life, but with a few rules in place, of course. 

According to a recent study by New York Life, octogenarians have telling insight into what it takes to be happy and secure in retirement. Insights include:

  • Wealth beats health: When deciding when to retire, their financial well-being was among the most important factors (68 percent), more so than their health (53 percent) or their age (42 percent).
  • The early years are the best: Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of respondents agree that the earliest years of their retirement were some of the best years.  Nearly half (49 percent) say that their best and happiest year of retirement was within five years of retiring – including 24 percent who say that the very first year was their favorite.
  • Don’t underestimate your lifespan: Over half (54 percent) say that when they were planning for retirement, they were not expecting to live as long as they have.
  • Get your income on autopilot: Nearly nine in ten (88 percent) would advise younger generations to re-create pension-like income for their retirement.  In fact, a majority (52 percent) feel thattheir auto-pilot income sources have given them greater peace of mind than accounts that they would need to actively manage themselves.

Such advice would be beneficial to younger generations who will likely be without tradtional pensions in retirement. 

“We have all heard the saying, ‘listen to your elders.’ In this case, we hope younger generations listen closely to what octogenarians report about how they planned for retirement and how this planning worked for them once they got there,” said Ross Goldstein, managing director of retail annuities marketing division, New York Life.  “We hope boomers, Gen Xers and millennials will take action to find pension-like income that will allow them to retire and enjoy their younger retirement years.”