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The financial wisdom of the retired

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Our autumn 2013 Real Retirement report reveals the financial wisdom of the retired, looking at their regrets and career choices, and asking what the ingredients of a happy retirement are.

Reflecting on working lives

Many over 55s chose their career because they thought they’d be good at it or because they had a genuine passion for the work. But a surprising number embarked on their chosen occupation purely because of its convenient location. 

More than half the over 55s changed career during their working lives, with over half saying this was an active decision rather than due to relocation, redundancy or ill health. 

In contrast to main careers, second careers were more likely to have been chosen for a better salary than because of a passion for the work. Almost a third of people leaving the construction and property industry were chasing higher wages.  

But not all career changes were motivated by money. A sizeable 40% of people who left a career in medicine and nursing did so because they were unhappy in their jobs. While the same percentage ditched careers in media, journalism and marketing to try something new. 

What financial advice would you give your younger self? 

Even with the benefit of hindsight, more than one in three over 55s feel they got the right balance between living in the moment and planning ahead. 

But, when it comes to money, many would do things differently given the chance. 

- Nearly one in five wish they’d taken more responsibility for managing their money.  

- 50% would’ve saved on a monthly basis, and 40% would’ve made better use of savings products. 

- Nearly two fifths would advise their younger self to take out a workplace pension, and almost as many recommend personal pensions.

The financial plight of the retired

- After their health, the key to happiness for many over 55s is having enough money to live comfortably. Perhaps that’s why almost a fifth of over 65s still rely on a wage as a source of household income. 

- Almost a third of 55-64s are approaching retirement with less than £500 in savings and investments. 

- Average monthly outgoings for the over 55s have reached £1,308 – the highest since we started the Real Retirement report nearly four years ago.

Clive Bolton, managing director of Aviva’s At Retirement business, comments:  

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so it is instructive to see the ways in which today’s over 55s would reconsider some of the financial decisions they made earlier in their lives and how they would approach the challenge differently. The subject of retirement finances can be daunting but by seeking the right advice and starting your preparation early you can ensure that you are able to make the most of your later years.” 

Read the full Real Retirement report.

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