62% of Retirees Would Plan for Retirement Differently


A recent survey conducted by Lincoln Financial Group revealed that 62% of retirees expressed a desire to "re-do" their retirement planning, with only 27% feeling "very confident" about the longevity of their finances in retirement. The survey sampled 1,400 adults, including 261 retirees, highlights a recurring theme: retirees often wish they had started saving earlier and allocated more funds to retirement planning.

Retirement is the point at which a person stops working for income. While the Americanized view of retirement, characterized by endless walks on the beach, daily golf, and no longer using our abilities for the Great Commission, may not align with Scripture, we still will likely face a point where we are no longer able to work for income. Even if we hope never to stop working for income, our health or employer may make the retirement decision for us. Because of this reality, preparing for this season of our lives is wise.

Diving deeper into the survey, we come across four other eye-opening results. Let’s look at the results and consider some lessons learned.

 1. 75% of retirees said they would have started saving earlier in their “do-over.”

A staggering 75% of retirees regret not commencing their savings journey sooner. When it comes to saving and investing for retirement, time is the most important asset. Remember this formula: A little bit of money + A lot of time = A lot of money. The earlier a person starts saving for retirement, the less they need to contribute. Why? Compounding. Compounding is interest earned on your interest earned. Albert Einstein is regularly attributed for this quote, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it earns it. He who doesn't pays it." 

The lesson learned is to take advantage of the time you do have. Following the 8 Money Milestones, you should start saving for retirement at Money Milestones 3 and 6.

2. 63% of retirees said they would have saved more in their “do-over.”

While time is the most important asset, the amount a person sets aside for retirement is also critical. Americans regularly struggle to save for the future. The general recommendation is to set aside 15% of your gross income for retirement. Of course, the specific amount can vary from person to person. The lesson learned is that the sacrifice is worth it. Sacrificing current wants to save for future needs is wise and can leave you with less regret.

 3. 34% of retirees said they would have paid off their debts sooner in their “do-over.”

The Bible teaches us that debt is a burden (Proverbs 22:7). Retirees with debt feel the weight of this burden. Debt can consume a significant portion of Social Security and the income generated from retirement savings. A retiree’s mortgage payment alone can consume one-third of their monthly income. One of the best ways to ensure a retiree’s Social Security and retirement savings will be enough is to eliminate their debt before retirement. Owning a home without a mortgage can be a significant benefit for retirees. This is why homeownership should be viewed as a long-term strategy to free up future cash flow. The lesson learned is to get serious about eliminating debt now. Following the Money Milestones, this is Money Milestone 4. Debt hinders a person’s generosity and creates significant financial stress during retirement.

 4. About a quarter of retirees said they would plan better for inflation in their “do-over.”

We are very familiar with inflation’s impact on our finances. Recent inflation has impacted all of us. Life is simply more expensive now. While inflation rates are not always as significant as we recently experienced, more money will likely be required during retirement to maintain your current standard of living. Inflation's impact must be considered if you want to have a financial margin during your retirement years. The lesson learned from this statistic is to prepare for increased living costs during your retirement years.

As followers of Christ, retirement is not to be characterized by years of leisure but by continued Great Commission impact. Financially preparing for this time can allow a retiree to worry less about money and more about how they will spend the rest of their lives getting the gospel out to their community and around the world. Preparing for retirement is preparing for future generosity.