Do You Fear Retirement More Than Death?

What to do if your golden years aren’t looking so golden.

Published Jan. 12, 2022

Reading Time: 7 minutes

“The golden years” have been synonymous with retirement for the last century! Those much sought-after years are meant to be the time where your lifetime of hard work will pay off and allow you to completely relax for the rest of your life. It’s no surprise that retirement is usually among people’s most significant life goals. Whether it’s retiring early or in your dream destination, it’s a priority for many, and more than a priority, you would think it’s the thing people look forward to the most!

Did you ever think of retirement as something that actually terrifies you more than it excites you? Bet you thought you were the only one. Turns out that 40% of Americans fear retirement more than death. 

What Is Your Biggest Retirement Fear? 

We don’t mean sharks or heights. As we navigate your retirement concerns, let’s talk about the things that actually scare you the most. 

Lack of Income 

According to a Zety study that surveyed 800+ Americans, the biggest fear factor (87%)  is lack of income during retirement. It can range from the fear of needing more money, to the lack of faith in the Social Security system. In fact, 32% of respondents said they did not trust the government to deliver Social Security benefits by the time they retired, and the same amount believes that the amount claimed will not be enough to live. 

Loss of Employment Health Benefits

Another big influencing factor is losing health and medical benefits associated with your employment. The fear of getting sick and losing access to those benefits is a big one, especially as we’re more likely to need more medical care as we age. In this scenario, people are afraid of having to cover medical costs on a reduced income. 

Mental & Physical Inactivity

Before the pandemic, most Americans were used to a 9-5 job plus a commute. People are used to being active, walking to a meeting, going for lunch, having a set daily schedule. A big fear when it comes to retiring is that you will no longer have this set schedule, and your mind won’t be thinking about work all the time. Slowing down is scary, both physically and mentally.

Work Social Network 

Lastly, you may also worry about your social life! Our day-to-day relationships at work become a big part of your social network, and losing those types of interactions when you retire can be concerning. 

How Uncertainty Plays a Role in Retirement

For those who rely on their own cash savings, uncertainty may not be that much of an issue. But for those who rely on external factors like employer retirement plans, family support, or investments (stocks, real estate, or crypto), will most likely feel uncertain about their financial future. 

According to the study, younger people feared retirement more than older people. Why? Because older people have a better idea of what their retirement will look like, and younger people tend to worry about planning, starting early, and the general uncertainty of it all. 

While a lot manage to build their nest egg early enough to be confident in retirement, a lot fail to properly plan. Of those surveyed that are 55+ years old, 62% are confident they’ll be able to retire, but of those under 39, less than half have the same confidence.  

How To: Prevent or Fight Off Retirement Fears

In order to help you tackle your concerns, here are some useful tips to help you navigate your fears and act early to prevent them. 

  1. Define retirement: This phase of life means something different to everyone. Dream up what it means to you (traveling the world at age 65+, quitting your job and then watching TV all day, playing bridge, etc.)
  2. Know your expenses To truly know how much income you need in retirement, you need to know how much you’re spending today. 
  3. Start healthy mental habits now: If you’re concerned about mental decline later in life, you can action that fear starting right now. Focus on mental agility, play sudoku, exercise your brain daily, and form those habits now that will last your lifetime. 
  4. Figure out your hobbies: If boredom is a concern, make sure you start to find your hobbies early, so by the time you retire you understand the things you like to spend time doing. 
  5. Eliminate the “what if” syndrome: Thinking constantly about your retirement worries and future won’t allow you to enjoy the present. Even if it isn’t a fear, it can be baggage that you will carry consistently until you decide to fight it off. 
  6. Research adult classes: Taking education or leisure classes is a great way to remain active during retirement, understanding the options you will have available when the time comes will help you worry a bit less today. 
  7. Get in touch with old friends: If you’re worried about your social network or relationships, make sure you are in touch with old friends and family before you reach retirement.
  8. Stay active today: Being active today will have a positive impact on your overall health and mind as you get older.
  9. Start preparing now: If you haven’t already, the best way to prevent retirement fears (and have more peace of mind) is to start as early as you can. 
  10. Make a plan: The best way to combat uncertainty is to make it more certain. Create or update your financial plan to lay out where income will come from in retirement, how much you need to save today, and what goals are realistic for you.

It’s Never Too Late

No matter what your age or life stage is, it’s never too late to start planning for retirement, and implementing the right tactics now will help you look forward to retiring, rather than dread it. 

Remember, your golden years should feel shiny and bright! Taking the right steps early will help you look forward to retirement, and work hard to get there. 

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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