The Top Secrets of Successful Retirees

Secrets of Successful RetireesWhat if you could take a glimpse into your retirement future? What would it look like? Would your retirement goals be obtained and would you be living the lifestyle you currently desire in the later years?

While you can’t see your future self in the retirement years, you can learn from others who have traveled the similar paths and most importantly, have done so successfully. recently surveyed more than 500 Americans to uncover the secrets of successful retirees. The survey provides a lot of insight that can be used to either start your retirement plan, or even tweak your current plan based on their best practices.

The survey describes such information as the financial profile of successful retirees, where they live, what concerns them today, the percentage of gross income they saved for retirement and much, much more!

Would you agree many people don’t have an established plan for retirement or aren’t saving enough to support their future lifestyle goals? Putting such planning and savings off until later in life can lead to not having enough money and drastically changing your lifestyle or relocating to a less than desirable location.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a few of the survey findings that really stood out to me.

Successful Retirement Survey Findings


The Retiree Next Door

Financial concerns in retirement – You might surmise that those in their elderly years might have financial concerns related to their health. If so,you’d be right. 24% of the survey participants do have financial concerns related to health issues possibly derailing their current financial position. For me, that’s a reminder of how important it is to maintain good health in the younger years and start healthy habits early! So how do they mitigate against health financial risks? The top 3 things survey participants have done are to carry Medicare, drive cars greater than 2 years old and spend less than their monthly income. I think we could gather that new cars aren’t exactly at the top of the list for these retirees and budgets are important. I’m not sure what to make of carrying Medicare off-hand, but being able to provide for adequate health insurance is certainly an important priority.

Interestingly, 50% of participants didn’t have any financial concerns. Overall, I think we can conclude financial preparedness and planning early in life is paramount. To see that 50% of these people don’t have financial concerns is a huge indicator of the work they’ve done while younger to help ensure they have a stable financial future.

Income for retirement savings – There is a lot to say about becoming an entrepreneur and funding your living and retirement based on the creation of an asset. A large amount of those surveyed (35%) depended on a career at a large company versus having their own. That just goes to show that working for a large company or someone else isn’t necessarily a bad approach. Large companies can provide great benefits as well as 401K matching that can help people plan better and save more for the future. At the same time, there weren’t as many entrepreneurial opportunities 10 or more years ago as there are now. With the growth of the web, it’s far easier to create an asset and start your own business online. That said, there is nothing wrong with starting a part-time gig in addition to your day job and of course, you never know where it will go!

Spending less than they earn – 52% of participants stuck to a budget. I didn’t say “had” a budget. I said “stuck to” a budget. Having a budget is just half of wise personal money management. Not only is it a good idea to have a monthly spending plan, people need to stick to it to be able to make forward progress in growthing their net worth. Most would at least admit to the importance of having a long-term plan for retirement, even if they don’t have one. That long-term plan would be difficult to obtain unless you have a monthly plan to help guide you. The monthly plan is what ensures you save adequately to fund your long-term lifestyle goals and can provide for future needs. If you don’t have the short-term plan, or monthly budget, it’s far too easy to overspend and live life for today versus thinking about the future.

Again, these are just a few interesting findings that I gathered from the survey. There are many more worth reviewing (free ebook download) and applying to your own retirement strategy and planning.

What did you find most interesting about the retirement survey results? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: American Advisors Group

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. Great article! Pay yourself first is the first step to saving. I also suggest that the key component to everyone’s retirement plan should include life insurance.

  2. Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog says

    Loved the infographic. I had no idea the numbers were so high. I would have thought less people would have been living comfortably in retirement. I think we may see the numbers decrease when we reach retirement age, since pensions are basically a thing of the past and people don’t plan as well as the used to.

  3. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says

    51% of successful retirees didn’t save for retirement in their 20s? Well I guess I’m going to be just fine then 😉

  4. I’m excited to read the e-book, going to go through it on my train ride home. Based on the numbers, I’m curious to see the differences in % of gross income and net worth/retirement income and age of retirement as well. I would assume one of 2 things in putting 21% or more in savings: 1) A larger amount of wealth/retirement income and 2) An early retirement age.