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Top Retirement Regrets And Concerns – What Are Yours?

Category: Retirement Planning

December 19, 2018 — Retirement is not always perfect, even for the people who are the most prepared for it.  Our Member surveys indicate that most of the people who visit this website are very satisfied with their retirement, but there is almost always room for improvement.  So when saw a recent survey from Global Atlantic that listed the top three retirement regrets, we were curious.  Particularly, we wanted to compare the regrets in that survey with the results from our own surveys, asking about retirement satisfaction. After you read our comparison we hope you will all provide us comments about your retirement regrets and concerns (as well as what is great about it)!

The survey from Global Atlantic was concerned mostly with  financial regrets.  Our surveys were broader than that, exploring all types of concerns and worries, not just financial. Note that there is a semantic differences between regrets and concerns, although both have negative connotations. Regrets seem to be about the past, and concerns/worries are more present and future. 

Regrets – Financially speaking

Global’s survey came up with these top 3 regrets from retirees:

  • • 36% Did not save enough
  • • 20% Relied too much on social security
  • • 12% Did not pay down debt prior to retirement.

Our Member Concerns

The last time we asked our Members about their biggest retirement concerns other issues came up besides money. Topping the list was where to live and having enough money.   

PERCENT
 Deciding where to live40%
 Having enough money38%
 How to occupy my time8%
 Health related issues5%
 Other Option5%
 When to retire4%

When we asked for details about their regrets, the major issues boiled down to two categories:

Financial. People mentioned that they waited too long to start saving/didn’t save enough,  they were too aggressive about stocks,  or they took social security too soon.
Planning . Typical comments included waiting too long to start planning,  buying a 3000 sq. ft. house in their 50’s, rushing into buying big ticket item like RV or second home, picking the wrong neighborhood, retiring too early,  or locked themselves into location based on children/grandchildren.

Worst Things about retirement. We also asked about the worst things in their retirements. Number one on the list was “Nothing”, which was great to hear. After that, the next highly ranked “worst” things were:
– Live too far/near from family and friends 
– Poor health or medical care 
– Not having enough money 
– Not having enough to do

Other worries. In the write-in comments we saw the complexity and diversity of retirement experiences that exist among our members. People worry about getting good health insurance that is affordable, running out of money, if they picked the right place to live, that they are too close to (or too far away from) their children or grandchildren, their retired (or unretired spouse), the economy, children’s college bills, being a caregiver, etc. In brief, there is a lot to worry about! 

Bottom Line

We are happy that so many people are satisfied with their retirements, but we also hope that all of us, particularly those who haven’t yet retired, can  learn from these common mistakes and missteps. The most important conclusion we see from this research is that the best way to have a successful retirement is to start planning early.  Bad luck can always get in the way, but the earlier you start thinking about and preparing for it, the better the odds are that everything will work out.

Your regrets, worries, and concerns.  Let us know what keeps you up at night concerning your retirement. Please share them, along with the best things, in the Comments section below.

For further reading

Best and Worst Things About Your Retirement

Global Atlantic Survey

Posted by Admin on December 18th, 2018

25 Comments »

  1. I love retirement and wish I had retired earlier.

    by bill shan — December 19, 2018

  2. Only one major issue… My spouse has an approach to retirement life that is considerably different from mine. For now, we do our own things. Not sure how this will shake out as we get older and may need more mutual support.

    by Tim Baker — December 19, 2018

  3. Having difficulty finding the perfect retirement location despite visiting 15 different cities. Money is a big concern especially with stock market drama. Not feeling secure about upcoming retirement. Still searching for my personal Utopia. Wondering if an international retirement may be best for me…

    by Jasmine — December 19, 2018

  4. For me, an international retirement will resolve money worries, and with the right location, health concerns. Two regrets many seem to have. The losses many of us have suffered in recent weeks in the market…and I need dividends to live in the US…may force a Latin American retirement. Sooner than later, given the looming recession if not depression, due to the rich and corporate favored tax cuts which create a huge impossible to afford, deficit. Remember, it was not that long ago that Bill Clinton balanced the budget. Now under Trump, Ryan, and McConnel, the deficit is over $800 billion. As the Fed keeps raising interest rates, how do folks think the deficit is paid for? With borrowed money…and ever higher interest rates.

    by Chuck — December 19, 2018

  5. We did our homework (here and retirement magazines) and planning ( traveling to all our favorite spots)and are thrilled with our final decision and two different lifestyles. We combined our love of warm weather and also our desire to stay close to family in the Midwest by having two home bases. Life is exciting. But I can’t stress enough that you must plan many years in advance to pull off a big change. Four real estate transactions in 15 months was not fun, but that’s all in the past now.

    by Kathi — December 19, 2018

  6. I was very blessed to be able to retire at 60 and a few years before my wife. This gave me time to downsize and upgrade/repair our home before it went on the market. Sold our home lived in an apartment for a year while our house was being built in Arizona.
    We love our new home and community. Have made many great friends and so many great activities.
    The one con was securing a loan for the house. With both of us retired, the loan process was difficult and long, sending the same information to them over and over again. At times we thought of stopping the loan process and just pay for the house.

    by Bruce — December 20, 2018

  7. Retired ar 56 and no regrets. Took SS at 62 and things got much easier.no debt long before retirement was,a big plus. I do the snowbird life of 6 months in MN and 6 months elsewhere. In 13 years of retirement I’ve spent winters in Panama and Mexico, lived on my boat on the Gulf coast of FL and TX, rented in the AZ and this winter I’m trying out the full time RV life, traveling in the SW.
    If I have a regret it’s never finding a woman who wanted to live my life of adventure. They all (many) wanted a “normal” life. House with white picket fence and 2.4 kids.:) Never living that “normal” life is why I could never live in any of the communities you show here. LOL!

    by Bob — December 20, 2018

  8. I love retirement. I saved long and hard and had no debt when I retired. Had no trouble getting a mortgage to buy a second home which is now my only home as I tired of the commute from Minnesota to Florida. Sometimes I wonder how I had time to work. Life is good!

    by Linda — December 20, 2018

  9. Regrets- main one is not valuing income and not saving enough as I went along.
    Worries- paying the bills both short and long term; wondering when living alone will no longer be possible.
    Concerns- Interestingly, the main one has turned out to be not being effective so far at transitioning to a “retirement centered” state of mind (from my stressful work-a-day world mindset of 37 years). Despite truly enjoying my pursuits/hobbies, I feel like a slacker for not working full time- especially when money is a problem.

    by Tim — December 20, 2018

  10. I share Tim’s and other’s comments — and Tim’s comment about transitioning actually brought something else to mind. I am in my 1st year of retirement (retired at 65). One of the things that was hardest for me aside from watching my financial plans blow up with my 401k, is feeling like I’ve become a nonperson. I went from a high-stress professional and managerial career in a large company, ‘to being a “little old lady.” I’ve encountered town clerks, mechanics, contractors, doctor’s offices, etc. who have treated me in the past year as a dumb woman, feeble, and sometimes as if I was hard-of-hearing. I’ve even caught myself telling people that I’m recently retired from XYZ — being that obnoxious retiree who tries to carry their old identity forever. What has changed? I guess I look a year older, I’m available for appointments during the day and I dress a little more casually. Not sure if that explains the difference in how retirees and older people are sometimes treated, but it was an unexpected discovery.

    by Kate — December 21, 2018

  11. Kate, I work part-time still in my old world of medicine. We cater to a lot of retirees and families as well. I think that anyone dressed too casually be it a stay at home Mom or a retiree sends a message. I tend to wear a dressy casual wardrobe that is elegant and geared for all seasons as much as possible. We do treat everyone the same way in our practice, but subconsciously notice the way a person is dressed. It sends a message as to if the person still cares about how they look which can signal their state of mind. Of course, I am in Washington, DC where things are not as casual as on the west coast or maybe Florida. I would not want to be looked down on and I think that you may have a point here. Most people who really dress up are, or were, important people in the government or who are from very conservative backgrounds. and taught they must look good at all times. My Aunt in Florida goes out to eat casually dressed and got rid of all professional clothes long ago. She has a healthy outlook and does not care what others think. She always looks nice, but sometimes I think she could do a bit better especially for formal dinners out.

    by Jennifer — December 21, 2018

  12. Kate, I read an article years ago about dressing up when buying a car—they treat you with more respect. America is all about image, not substance. Dress and act like you’re still the CEO when you go out. It works. I’ve reprimanded plenty about their attitude, and surprised the crap out of them. Doctors are the worst, in my experience.

    by Daryl — December 21, 2018

  13. Whether you’re a retired person or not, dressing up a bit on airlines will usually get you better service and treatment.

    by Clyde — December 21, 2018

  14. My biggest regret is that the 2008 recession hit the state I live in very hard. I was 56 years old, long divorced, kid in college, and planning to continue to work for a very long time. I lost my job when the firm had to close, lost money in the stock market, the value of my home plummeted and pretty much wiped me out. I spent years, day and night looking for a work. I am highly educated and highly skilled, but due to the horrible economy along with my age, I was never able to find work that paid what I had planned on. I managed to hang onto my home, but many of my friends, all top notch professionals, lost their homes also. Years of extreme stress looking for work,a nd being without income, led to a horrible decline in my health, leading to hospital bills that wiped me out completely. People can have their own opinions about politics, but the improved economy and people having opportunity again is worth its weight in gold. Since the midterms this year, the stock market has tanked and again I am losing money. I am now 67 years old, without retirement savings, and too sick to work. My biggest regret are the years from 2008-2016. Those 8 years hurt a lot of people who may never recover. Don’t ever forget that.

    by Maimi — December 21, 2018

  15. Maimi,
    It may not be easy to hear, but my getting a new job in 2006 with good 401K choices made the years 2008-2016 the basis for a good retirement. Timing and the ability to accept stock market risk made the difference for me.

    by JoeG — December 21, 2018

  16. JoeG, I am glad it worked out for you. I think it depended on where you lived on how well you survived those 8 years. The state I live in had the close to the highest unemployment rate in the country for years, businesses folded, high foreclosure rate, property values plummetted. I could not move because the value of my home was less than the mortgage. It was a very painful 8 years for millions of people. You are one of the few lucky ones, a lot of people our age really got hit hard and will not ever recover. I hope people don’t forget those bleak years now that the economy is good.

    by Maimi — December 21, 2018

  17. We are all concerned about things happening to our financial security due to events we can’t control. The stock market has crashed at a level that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression in 1931, far exceeding any anticipated bear market (Maimi – a year+ of gains had already been wiped out before November.) Many states are starting to see big job losses, inflation is at its highest rate in 6+ years, the deficit has ballooned, and the housing industry is starting to slow down due to rising interest rates. I was lucky enough to do fine over the last ten years…but now my 401k has taken a huge hit and my taxes will be going up. I agree with Maisie that perception of the economy can depend on where you live, the industry you work(ed) in, and similar factors. For ex., I live in Ohio now, which has daily news stories about lives and local communities that are being devastated by plant shutdowns. I guess the only way to avoid bumps in any retirement plan is to save and fund as much as possible for contingencies, and then wait for life to take shots at us.

    by Kate — December 22, 2018

  18. Kate, You say that saving for retirement could have been done to avoid the situation many of us now find ourselves in? If I hadn’t had ample savings when 2008-2016 hit us, i would not be in my home. Many of us who were hurt by that poor economy had to use savings to survive! Some of my friends lost their businesses and homes! The human misery those years caused is real. Make no mistake, the stock market is still far better than it was in Oct. 2016, but even better, unemployment is now at a 29 year low in my state, which was once had the highest unemployment rate in the USA. Since the tax cuts, revenues to the Feds is higher, wages are rising, home values are up, and people now have some hope here. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated 8 years of such a bad economy, high unemployment, stagnant GDP. For me and millions of others my age, this all happened at a very bad time. Age discrimination is real, though hard to prove. It was very hard to find any work at all where I live. Millenials were living in their parent’s basements. My child finished college at a top rated school in 2012 and was happy to find a job as a receptionist. Many of her friends could find no jobs at all. At the same time the recession hit, we had a huge influx of immigrants to our sanctuary state that took the few service jobs at very low wages. It was very, very bad here, though to this day, some refuse to acknowledge how painful those 8 years were. My home value has recovered and I will sell in the Spring. It is a seller’s market here. I just hope nothing happens to change this economy, though it seems the stock market is not happy since November midterms. Fingers crossed.

    by Maimi — December 22, 2018

  19. Maimi – That’s not what I said. But that’s ok. We both can agree that perceptions of the economy and retirement is going to depend very heavily on the local economy where each of us live, and on our own personal experiences. (For ex., my 3 kids are millenials who graduated from college in the period you cited, and got jobs in their chosen careers immediately — but our state was not in the horrible position yours apparently struggled with). We’ll all be hearing a lot of economic statistics over the next two years, and will be weighing them against our personal experiences. I’m happy things are going much better for you and for your state, and congratulations on selling in a Seller’s market now!

    by Kate — December 23, 2018

  20. Well, it’s well and good that unemployment is low but that has no impact on us baby boomers or anyone over 50 years old. Almost impossible finding work….we finally sold our home with a 266% profit level and that will only sustain us until our 80s with downsizing and moving away from living near the ocean where it’s more expensive…. And as you can see we are soon going into a recession so people need to rethink where to invest their money. It’s no easy but if you adjust your day to day living standards you can do it!!

    by Mary11 — December 23, 2018

  21. This blog stirs up many thoughts. The first being an ability to roll with the punches. Someone said “it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you, ” that will determine how content you are with your life.
    We feel we have been especially blessed so far, therefore not much to regret. Have difficulties happened throughout the years? Yes. No one is immune.
    Part of the reason things seem to have worked out, is due to a commitment to debt free living, and starting the retirement relocation search many years in advance. (Thank you TR!) I think discontent, and changing your mind too frequently leads to extra expense.
    We were told by someone this regarding retirement, “Everyday’s a Saturday! ” They were absolutely correct! No regrets here!

    by Caps — December 23, 2018

  22. Maimi — Rather than debate “facts” on a retirement forum, I’ll see you at the polls in 2020. MIt’ary11 – I agree that it’s time to readjust living standards to reflect a possible worst case scenario. I keep telling myself that I’m fortunate because I still have my health and can wake up when I want, have a cup of coffee and watch the news, and then spend the day doing what I want (as long as it doesn’t involve shopping LOL). I’m still really happy about retiring this year, even if it means strictly controlling my disposable income

    I suspect that if the poll was run again, finances would come up at the top because of the current situation. Retirees may want to delay relocation until they can get a better grip on retirement budgets due to a possible recession.

    by Kate — December 24, 2018

  23. To Caps – you mention a lesson that I think I’ve finally learned: changing your mind too frequently leads to extra expense. I’ve moved so many times in the last few years trying to find just the right place, and each move has cost a small fortune, especially given that one move involved an expensive renovation, the cost of which I’ll never recover. And now, it looks like I’m going to finally move back to the place I left 4 years ago because I’ve realized that’s where my heart is. But this time, I’m going to be sure I’m not going to change my mind again.

    I’d also like to make a comment about age discrimination. I know it is real for some, but as an example to the contrary, I made my last job change at the age of 59. I stayed there 10 years until I finally retired. I didn’t have any special skills that made me a better candidate for the organization than those who were 30 years younger who were applying for the same position. In fact, the job I got was one that usually went to people with no more than 5 years of experience. I won’t ever know why I was chosen (I never asked) but I do know that I never stopped to think that my age would make me undesirable as an employee, and that it was actually an asset. In my mind, I think I’m forever 29 (I just wish the body agreed!).

    by JoannC — December 24, 2018

  24. My husband and I (both mid 60s) are lucky in that not only did we both put away money from every paycheck, but also received one of the last good pensions from a healthcare giant and an inheritance that made retiring more comfortable. Here are the best things about our retirement.
    1. We have a great financial planner that grows our money with a balanced portfolio
    2. Left our expensive Northern California city and sold our 2400 ft home. We gave away or sold most of our household stuff. We got rid of our mortgage and cleared enough money to live on for a couple of years.
    3. Got out of our comfort zone and moved to Nice, France for a year. It forced us to meet new people, mostly expats and English speaking French and Italians who continue to enriched our lives. Now we live there for the foreseeable future.
    4. Are far away from the US political circus
    5. We rent a 2-bedroom, 850 sq ft apartment which is roomy and easy to take care of. And with our wonderful circle of new friends, we are busier with activities and social engagements than we ever were in California.
    5. Cost of living is cheaper and France has an excellent national health care system with many English speaking doctors
    6. Absolutely no regrets about leaving friends and family behind. We stay in touch regularly with WhatsApp and email and we live in a place that people are willing to come visit us.

    Worst things about retirement
    1. Making decisions about what places to visit next
    2 Continuing to make monthly Medicare payments to access healthcare whenever we visit the US

    by Cicely Hand — December 28, 2018

  25. After almost 45 years military and federal law enforcement service, my primary concern — after a failed attempt at an AT Thru-hike —- is how much I miss my work. That….and finding where my wife and I will eventually nest after she retires.

    by Captain Coyote — December 28, 2018

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