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Concerned about your retirement finances? Don’t be

Here's a quick way to address your financial concerns about retirement.

Just retire. A four-country survey has found that people who left the workforce recently were notably more satisfied with their financial position than those who were looking just ahead to retirement. "We ascribe at least part of this to the resolution of the psychological uncertainty that comes with navigating the transition to retirement," said the company behind the survey, the U.S. investing giant Vanguard.

Vanguard looked at retirees in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Asked for their view on their financial situation, 46 per cent of Canadian pre-retirees and 65 per cent of recent retirees said they had a high level of satisfaction. Similar patterns were seen in the other three countries as well.

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People typically retire with a lower income than in their working years, but expenses also decline. For example, you won't be saving for retirement when you're retired. Just 17 per cent of Canadian pre-retirees in the survey felt able to spend freely within reason, while 28 per cent of recent retirees felt that way. The percentage of pre-retirees on a strict budget was 23 per cent, compared to 11 per cent of recent retirees.

Asked about their financial attitudes toward retirement, Canadian recent retirees were in a better frame of mind than pre-retirees across the board. Almost two-thirds of pre-retirees were confident in the financial decisions they were currently making on retirement, while 80 per cent of recent retirees felt that way. Forty-five per cent of pre-retirees felt the financial decisions they were making were complex, while 29 per cent of recent retirees felt similarly.

The anxiety of pre-retirees can be clearly seen in answers to questions about whether they personally and the country as a whole face a retirement crisis. Forty-seven per cent of pre-retirees believe there is a national retirement crisis, but only 36 per cent of recent retirees believe that. Just 6 per cent of recent retirees said they would describe their own situation as a crisis, compared to 11 per cent of pre-retirees.

The lesson here for people who worry about retirement seems simple: It's better than you think.

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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