- Simply spending time thinking about your ideal retirement can lead to better savings habits, according to a survey of working Americans from Lincoln Financial Group.
- Those who had already envisioned their ideal retirement were over two times more likely to say they contribute at least 15% of their salary to a 401(k) or other workplace plan.
- You need an idea of how you want your retirement to look before you can crunch the numbers. Once you have an end-goal, it’s easy to work backwards to estimate costs and make a plan for getting there.
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Do you ever visualize how your retirement will look? Where you’ll live, what you’ll do most days, whether you’ll travel, or volunteer, or go all in on your hobby.
According to new research from Lincoln Financial Group, whether or not you mentally plan out your future could make a big difference in the steps you take to actually get there.
“Planning for retirement is more than just a number,” Jamie Ohl, president of Retirement Plan Services at Lincoln Financial Group, said in a press release. “When savers take the time to really think through what retirement will hold — like volunteering, traveling the world or even working part time — they are better able to take steps today to make the tomorrow they imagine a reality.”
Lincoln Financial Group asked 2,580 full-time workers ages 18 to 72 about their ideal retirement and their saving behaviors. The survey respondents most commonly associated retirement with travel, financial security, living a comfortable life, and being debt-free.
Those who had already envisioned their ideal, yet still realistic, retirement think they’ll need to save 20% of their income to achieve their goal, which is 7% higher than those who haven’t thought about their retirement at all. Ultimately, members of the forward-thinking group were over two times more likely to say they contribute at least 15% of their income to a workplace retirement plan already, the survey found.
Even those who calculated their basic retirement needs were two times more likely to contribute at least 15% of their salary than those who hadn’t run the numbers at all, which included about half of people expecting to retire in the next 10 years.
Among those who went a step further and calculated how much their ideal retirement would actually cost — about one-fourth of the total survey respondents — more than half contribute at least 15% of their salary to a retirement account.
All this to say, planning for a comfortable retirement requires a personal vision. The average costs of retirement are just that — average. Whether you plan to travel for months at a time, downsize your home, pick up freelance work, relocate to a lower cost of living area, continue financially supporting adult children, or spend most of your time relaxing with family, are all variables that could increase or decrease the amount you need to save and invest throughout your career.