Visualize Retirement

As Retirement Nears, Attitudes Shift

As a part of the Visualize Retirement program, Conversation Starters are an ongoing series of easy-to-digest articles designed to demystify the nonfinancial side of retirement. Stay in front of sponsors and participants with fresh, relevant insights based on research into actual retiree behaviors.

Saving for retirement, while financially challenging, isn’t necessarily a complex process. The name of the game is to save about 15% of your gross salary in a tax-advantaged account, and invest appropriately for your time horizon and personal circumstances. Innovations like automated savings into your 401(k) and target date funds have made the process simpler.

By contrast, moving from a saving to a spending mindset in retirement is a thornier proposition. After years of preparation, the distribution phase of retirement brings a new set of factors, including life expectancy, desired lifestyle, inflation, and ongoing market performance. As you transition from saving to spending, you may feel you’ve entered uncharted waters.

As you consider your options, it may be helpful for you to know how other preretirees are thinking about retirement spending. Here are three key issues revealed by our research:

Attitudes Can Change

Product preferences change as individuals approach retirement.


product preferences
Appetite For Advice Grows

Interest in advice increases along with wealth as individuals approach retirement.

Solutions Need Personalization

Solutions can include products, but they depend on an individual’s needs and goals.


Product preferences change as one approaches retirement.

Our research shows that there is more openness to specific product options among younger preretirees who are further from retirement. However, when retirement is just around the corner, preferences change. When asked about individual retirement income solutions, preretirees age 60 to 64 said they would be more open to creating their own solutions with a financial professional.

Interest in advice and managing one’s own finances increase along with wealth as one approaches retirement.

The concept makes sense—as you accumulate more savings over time, your financial decisions become more complex, and you have more to lose. Our research revealed that the interest in creating retirement income solutions, independently or with an advisor, increased with age.

Respondents were asked, “Would you invest 100% of your assets on your own or with an advisor?” (instead of committing to a specific retirement income product).


AGE 50–54


AGE 60–64

Solutions can include products, but they depend on an individual’s needs and goals.

Ultimately, solving for retirement spending comes down to assessing your personal needs and wants, and not necessarily a particular product. Retirement income products or solutions can only be successful when you are confident with your overall plan. Additional advice or education before making a decision that can have lifelong effects can be helpful as well.

The complexity of retirement spending and the realization that preferences may shift as you approach retirement are good reasons to seek the counsel of a financial professional. Moreover, they can encourage you to also consider the nonfinancial side of retirement—a critical step that can lead to the right retirement income solutions to fit your lifestyle.

Contact your financial professional to learn more about how you can best tackle the challenge to plan for spending in retirement.

Source: T. Rowe Price Retirement Savings and Spending Study (2019).

This material is provided for general and educational purposes only, and not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. This material does not provide recommendations concerning investments, investment strategies or account types; and not intended to suggest any particular investment action is appropriate for you. Please consider your own circumstances before making an investment decision.

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