Visualize Retirement

Four Takeaways From Pandemic Living

February 25 2021

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 the conversation with fresh, relevant insights based on research into actual retiree behaviors.

More time at home. Video chats with friends and family. Days of the week blending together. In some ways, the coronavirus pandemic has offered us a preview of what retirement might look like. Here are four takeaways from pandemic living to consider as you create your retirement vision.

1. Your health is most important.


The emphasis on health during the pandemic can be seen in the extensive measures taken—quarantining, wearing masks, social distancing—because your health is most important. The same applies in retirement, when it’s important to prioritize one’s health by staying on top of wellness visits, following treatment plans closely, and maintaining your care network of family members who are committed to your health and well-being.

2. Your finances are a close second.

The pandemic has been a lesson in how unforeseen, outside forces can disrupt our finances. When T. Rowe Price fielded its annual Retirement Savings and Spending Study in 2020, 60% of households who save in 401(k) plans said the pandemic affected their job or income, and almost 50% reported increased financial stress.1

This has brought into focus the importance of having a financial plan and meeting with your financial professional up to and during retirement so you’re best prepared in case of a disruption.


3. Social connections are critical.


Pre-pandemic, most of our social connections took place face-to-face. During the pandemic, this evolved to include more virtual interactions like video happy hours and embracing video calls and social media to connect with friends and family.

No matter how you interact socially, its importance for your mental health is clear. Retirement could look similar, with more discretionary time and the old social networks of work replaced by a new routine. Think about how your social networks will look during retirement as you craft your vision.

4. The role of work will change.

In addition to the income it brings, the nonfinancial benefits of work crystallized for many of us during the pandemic. Remote work left some feeling incomplete or aimless as their schedule was disrupted, much as it is upon retirement.

Preretirees may want to look for ways to fill the potential void that retiring from full-time work can leave. This can be accomplished through part-time work, volunteering, or other activities that offer a sense of purpose and structure to postretirement life.


The coronavirus pandemic challenged us, but it may lend some lessons for preretirees. Here are some next steps you can take to make the most of the pandemic retirement preview:

  1. Spend time thinking about what worked for you (and what didn’t) regarding your health, finances, social connections, and the role of work as you navigated the changes that the pandemic brought.
  2. Consider applying these lessons while filling out the T. Rowe Price Visualize Retirement workbook, which is designed to help you build your ideal vision for retirement.
  3. Meet with your financial professional to talk about what you learned during the pandemic and how you can apply it to your retirement plan.

Source: T. Rowe Price Retirement Savings and Spending Study (2020).

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

© 2021 T. Rowe Price. All rights reserved. T. Rowe Price, INVEST WITH CONFIDENCE, and the bighorn sheep design are, collectively and/or apart, trademarks of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc.

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