Inflation and Stock-Market Volatility Prompts Most Retirees to Alter Finances, Study Finds

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Higher prices are eating into the purchasing power of retirement savings

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According to a study of 11,000 individuals in North America, including 5,000 retirees, conducted by my firm, Age Wave, in partnership with Edward Jones, the majority (63%) of retirees say they now need to make some financial course correction. Harris Poll. Only 37% of retirees state their finances are completely on track.

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The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our physical, psychological and financial well-being. But with the help of government safety nets like Medicare and Social Security, retirees, overall, have been more financially resilient than younger Americans — until recently.

This is because inflation is now eating away at the purchasing power of the limited pool of money in which retirees live. In fact, 41% of retirees surveyed say they often worry about draining their money. And current stock-market volatility is affecting the balances of their 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts and other retirement plans.

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So what improvements are retirees doing in response to those concerns?

The most commonly reported actions are reducing the size of their home and/or moving to a less expensive location. With today’s hot housing market, retirees are looking to capitalize on the financial equity they have built up over their working years.

Another common course reform undertaken by retirees is cutting financial aid to family members. While the pandemic sparked a “family bank” lending spree, retirees may now recognize that they may not be generous enough during this time of economic uncertainty. Hopefully their families are able to better support themselves now, given the return of labor markets since the start of the pandemic.

In the meantime, some retirees are considering going back to work in some fashion to boost their nest egg. More than half (59%) of the retirees and pre-retirees we survey say their ideal retirement includes some form of work, ranging from cycling in and out of work (19%) Part-time (22%) or full-time (18%).

I, for one, am 72 years old and still working, but I am also making some changes to my choices in my life. For example, my husband and I offered to pay for our son’s wedding (he was planning to pay the bill himself), but we opted for a backyard wedding instead of an expensive venue wedding. It makes sense that we are still in the middle of the pandemic and it saves us a lot of money.

Given inflation, the current state of the financial markets, and the prolongation of retirement, both retirees and pre-retirees would be wise to get creative with their financial strategies.

Katy Flick, Head of Research at Edge Wave contributed to this article.
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Write to Ms. Dichtwald at [email protected]

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