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Most Retirees Wish They’d Planned Better

What’s the No. 1 thing retirees wish they had done while they were preparing for retirement?

Created a budget, according to the respondents to a survey of recent retirees by Fidelity Institutional Retirement Services Co.

older couple

One in five retirees said they wish they had created a budget so they would have had a more realistic idea about what their expenses would be.

If they had it to do over again, the retirees interviewed said they also would have:

  • Created an asset allocation strategy (19 percent)
  • Developed an income source withdrawal strategy (18 percent)
  • Better understood 401(k) plan payout options (19 percent)
  • Retired later (17 percent)

Overall, 57 percent said they wish they had done more to prepare in their pre-retirement years, although 66 percent said they were living the lifestyle they wanted to live.

Asked what advice they would offer to someone preparing for retirement, the most often suggested response was “Seek guidance to help with the retirement transition.”

Three of four recent retirees reported that they neglected to turn to their employer for assistance and guidance throughout the retirement process.

But those who did saw significant value in the guidance they received, with the vast majority (92 percent) saying they found it to be valuable and 32 percent saying they “could not have made the transition without it.”

What does the retirement services group say should be learned from the survey?

  • Do your homework. Understand the benefits you will receive, and learn the tax rules regarding your investments.
  • Make a retirement plan. Know how much you can expect to earn on your investments. Be realistic about your expected expenses, and create a budget.
  • Get help. If your employer can help you understand your retirement benefits, take advantage of the help. If that’s not an option, you might benefit from seeking professional advice. Make sure your advisor is reputable by checking credentials.


The 2010 audit was a pleasant experience for us. I was impressed with the work of Partner Jim Larson and Supervisor Sara Kennedy.

Elena Anderson |  Director of Finance and Operations
Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund