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Americans Feel Better About Aging, But Savings Lag Behind

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More than ever before, Americans are expecting to live long lives and to enjoy the latter part of their lives to the fullest. But that optimism often rests on a rickety financial foundation.

The results of a recent survey presented by TD Ameritrade show that more people are embracing the aging process and fewer are dreading it. But most don’t feel they would be able to retire as soon as they would like to.

The results of this survey could be helpful for a few reasons. If you believe you’re on the right track in terms of preparing for retirement, the survey might reassure you that you’re ahead of the pack. If you have high hopes for retirement but not necessarily the IRA to back up that optimism, the survey  results could inspire you to step up your saving game. Major findings…

Perceptions of what “old” means are changing. At what age does a person become “old?” Not surprisingly, the answer varied by the age of who was asked, ranging from “old” meaning age 67 to adults under 35 to “old” meaning age 82 to adults 73 or older. The meaningful result, though, was that the average age considered “old” across all generations has gone up considerably—in a similar survey in 2009, that average age for “old” was 68, but in this latest survey, it was 74.

Not only is the perceived point at which one reaches old age getting later, but the average respondent now expects to live to age 84, which surpasses the actual average life expectancy forecast for all generations. There’s some reason for that optimism—globally, the number of people age 80 and up is expected to increase threefold between 2017 and 2050,  according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. But the truth is, the best actual scientific estimate for the average life expectancy of today’s adult generations in the US is not 84—it’s slightly less than 79.

For many, old age is nothing to fear. The TD Ameritrade survey reported wide-ranging optimism, with nearly two out of three respondents associating aging with experience and wisdom, while less than half associate aging with forgetfulnes or ill health. Millennials in particular believe they are getting better with age, with 30% of them saying they are excited to grow older.

Around 80% of respondents said aging provides an opportunity to reach new goals. Roughly three out of four look forward to pursuing passions that eluded them in younger years. Nearly 70% plan to take some time to focus on themselves instead of those around them, with solid majorities viewing their later years as an opportunity to travel and prioritize health and wellness.

However, most respondents don’t feel they are preparing for retirement correctly. About 60% said they had no idea how much to save for life beyond age 65, and half said they did not believe they would have more than enough money to cover their needs.

A TD Ameritrade expert on the subject is encouraged by the shift in attitudes but cautions that optimism is empty if it’s not backed up by financial preparation.

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Source: Online poll of 2,002 American adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade. Date: October 16, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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