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The meaning of retirement

Skipton Building Society is keen to understand what retirement means to the UK population and asked the nation about their hopes and fears for this important phase of life.
Their research reveals most people are happy when it comes to picturing their retirement. The top 20 words people associate with retirement were largely positive.

‘We’re excited about it’, say over-50s

Contrary to popular belief, the UK is a nation looking forward to a happy retirement, hoping for a ‘carefree’ and ‘relaxing’ time, according to a survey into the meaning of retirement carried out by Skipton Building Society.

An illustration of some of the words people associate with retirementThe study of 2,000 Brits found that almost two thirds (63%) view retirement as a positive, happy experience, with only one in ten (11%) seeing it as a negative. Researchers found that being care-free, having more time to relax, spend with family and go on holidays are most important to them. Other positive words they used to describe retirement included ‘fun’, ’wonderful’ and ‘quiet’.

‘Golden years’, ‘stress-free’ and ‘exciting‘ also featured highly, dispelling the myth that, as a nation, we have negative feelings about life after work.

Retiresavvy blogger and retiree David Sanders spoke of his experience. He said: “Travelling in retirement was a scary prospect, but four weeks and 5,000 miles was a brilliant way to kick off my post-work life. My Route 66 at 66 journey allowed me to start as I mean to go on."

Almost three-quarters (72%) of people are looking forward to their retirement, with four in ten even admitting to being jealous of those who have already quit work.

“You’ve done the pension planning; now it’s time for the life planning. It’s time to invest in you” says retiresavvy blogger and lifecoach Tilla Brook.


Financial planning is important

However, the research also revealed that opinions change as we get closer to retirement. This is only natural says Tilla: “The transition to retirement can be tough. Many newly retired people struggle to come to terms with it.
"For some people, retirement can seem boring, even a burden. For others the loss is so overwhelming that it can trigger anxiety, loneliness or loss of self belief.”
Positive hopes for the future could be at risk due to lack of financial planning as less than half of Brits have a plan in place for how they are going to fund their retirement.
The transition to retirement can be tough. Many newly retired people struggle to come to terms with it.
Tilla Brook
The research found that 57% of people admitted to being at least a little worried about their life after work, with financial worries the biggest concern. Alarmingly, 48% of over 50s admitted to having no retirement fund, despite the end of their working life being just years away, while eight in ten said they would feel more positive about their retirement if they had a financial plan in place.
“Money doesn’t mean happiness, but planning and managing it effectively can help. For those of us who are approaching, or have recently reached retirement this can be very confusing, and it is important to take good professional advice if you feel you need it”, says Clive Pilcher, retiresavvy blogger and retireeAn illustration of some of the questions people have when planning their retirement.
Stacey Stothard, Corporate Communications Manager at Skipton Building Society, which carried out the research: “People’s lack of preparedness comes as no surprise, unfortunately.
"We’re acutely aware that retirement planning is a complex and daunting area and this can sometimes put people off the planning they need to do to ensure themselves the best possible future.
“Our customers have told us that they feel confused, particularly in light of changes to State Pension provision and pending changes to annuity rules.
“We now offer a retirement planning service, with free retirement reviews in all of our branches, as part of our commitment to support people in their life ahead, to help take some of the worry away and this service is proving very popular."

The top 20 words we associate with retirement

  1. Care-free
  2. Relaxing
  3. Holidays
  4. Family time
  5. Golden years
  6. End of an era
  7. Stress-free
  8. Exciting
  9. Fun
  10. Wonderful
  11. Quiet
  12. Old
  13. No money
  14. One long holiday
  15. Adventurous
  16. Boredom
  17. Ill-health
  18. Lonely
  19. Depressing
  20. Idyllic
The only negative term to feature within the top 10 is ‘end of an era’, as people felt retirement was definitely the start of a new chapter. ‘Old’, ‘no money’ and ‘boredom’ are also within the top 20 words people associated with retirement. Other worries include ill-health, a lack of mental exertion, loneliness or being bored and having nothing to get up for each day.
What would you have said if we’d have asked you about the meaning of retirement? Jot down the first 3 words that come into your head below, we’d love to see if you agree with the rest of the UK!
For more thoughts on this research, take a look at the articles below, written by a selection of bloggers for whom retirement is a subject very close to their hearts.
There are some really interesting perspectives, do any resonate with you?
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.


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