Do People Like to Retire?


Is retirement all this?

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.”
–Abe Lemons

Cliff’s Notes: Yes. People do like to retire. 93% of them, in fact.

There’s recently been a series of advertisements from some brokerage that talks about the first day of retirement. There are all of these stories of how great it was and how wonderful they felt and there were unicorns and bacon-flavored chocolate fountains.

Many of us talk about retirement. Most of my client engagements revolve around retirement planning. We have idyllic pictures of what retirement is like.

Except, there’s one problem with the retirement “planning” that most of us do.

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We actually have no vision of what retirement is like! It’s this great, nebulous unknown. The only thing that we know is that we won’t have to get up and go to work. Beyond that, who knows?

Since we don’t really have this vision in our heads driving our planning and allowing us to sacrifice now for a desired future, it’s very easy for us to allow Monkey Brain to take over when it comes to allocating our money. Monkey Brain knows what a 183” flat screen TV will look like in the man cave. He has no idea what retirement is. That’s way out in the future. Since it’s so far out into the future, and we don’t really have a good picture of what retirement looks like, we’re very likely to subject ourselves to a psychological bias called hyperbolic discounting so that we significantly discount what happens in our future compared to what’s happening right now.

I explain how to combat this amorphous image in the article Retire TO Something. It’s critical to have a vision of where you’re going.

The good news is what once you get there, life is actually pretty good. A study by the National Institute on Aging shows that, by and large, retired people actually like being retired. In a 2000 survey, 61% of the retirees surveyed said that they found retirement “very satisfying” and 33% said that they found it ‘moderately satisfying.” Only 7% said that their retirement was not satisfying (and I’d be willing to wager that they were retiring from something rather than to something).

Keep striving for the finish line. There’s happiness out there to be had, but don’t forget to enjoy your life along the way. No point in being unhappy for most of your life only to be happy at the end of it.

Do you think you’ll like being retired? Are you already retired? If so, are you happy with it? Tell us about it in the comments below!

About Jason Hull, CFP®

Jason Hull, CFP®, is the Chief Technology officer of myFinancialAnswers, an online comprehensive financial planning service.