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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

When to Retire? Millennials Look to Their Wallets, Not Their Calendars

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Advisors take note: Millennials foresee their retirement — including the decision on when to retire — differently than older generations, Merrill Edge reported Monday.

Forty-one percent of millennials surveyed said they expected to retire when they reached a certain financial milestone or savings goal, compared with 29% of Gen X and 18% of boomer respondents. Twenty-nine percent of millennials also said they would retire at a certain point in their career.

In contrast, 35% of boomers in the poll said expected to retire when they hit a certain age, compared with 28% of millennials, and 33% of boomers and Gen Xers said they would retire when health concerns rendered them unable to work, compared with 25% of millennials.

The telephone survey, conducted from Feb. 12 through March 1, comprised 1,003 respondents throughout the U.S. who had $20,000 to $250,000 in investable assets.

Fifty-three percent of millennials saw retirement as a new beginning, with 21% of these likely to pursue a passion, seek additional education or start or grow a business as their main retirement priority.

Millennials in the survey were also thinking about their financial future as the 2016 presidential election approaches. Forty-seven percent expected the outcome of voting to positively affect their long-term financial goals, compared with 34% of Gen Xers and 26% of boomers.

“It’s refreshing to see the mindset around retirement evolve, particularly a strong optimism and a goal-oriented approach from younger generations,” Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge at Bank of America, said in a statement.

“This focus is a great start, but one of the keys to a successful retirement is to ensure savings are prioritized early and often. Year over year, we continue to see today’s non-retirees struggle with the impact short-term spending has on their long-term financial future.”

Not Enough Savings

Merrill Edge reported that 48% of Americans expressed the most insecurity about some aspect of their financial future, retirement savings or income. Retirement savings was the chief concern of 21% of respondents, way ahead of personal relationships, judgment of others and career path.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans also said daily expenses in retirement would dominate their financial future, much more so than managing health care expenses and housing expenses.

Nevertheless, they still did not seem to prioritize retirement savings. Asked how well they were planning for retirement, 38% gave themselves a grade of “C” or lower, and only 18% said they deserved an “A.”

“It has become increasingly apparent that retirement planning is not only evolving, but also has become a moving target that Americans must continuously revisit to pursue their goals and priorities,” said Ken Dychtwald, founder and chief executive of Age Wave, said in the statement.

 “As we see in the latest Merrill Edge Report, retirement planning requires a new mentality — ‘set it and forget it’ is a thing of the past.”

Unexpected Challenges

These savings shortfalls may illustrate how today’s retirees are living, according to Merrill Edge. Consider the things they did not expect in retirement:

  • “Spent more money than anticipated” — 30%
  • “Moving to a new location” — 19%
  • “Feeling a lack of purpose” — 18%

 Moreover, retirees’ top priorities appear to differ from those of their still-working counterparts:

  • Maintaining their standard of living — 29%
  • Spending time with loved ones — 27%
  • Maintaining their health — 23%

One in five non-retirees said they hoped to make world travel their top retirement priority, but only 5% of retirees prioritized traveling, according to the survey.

 “Today’s retirees tell us they are experiencing a very different retirement than non-retirees are envisioning,” Levine said.

“With continuing savings challenges and potential economic uncertainties ahead, non-retirees should have a plan in place and regularly revisit it to make sure it still aligns with what’s most important to them for their retirement years.”

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