Sixty-somethings have discovered the secret to life (and financial) happiness

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What makes you happy in retirement may not require as much money as it does just smart planning. Source: Getty

Age really does bring wisdom, if not in love (is anyone ever wise when it comes to romance?), then at least in money and lifestyle matters.

Perpetual has done an interesting survey on Australians’ attitudes to money and related issues, and it shows that 60-somethings have learned the secret of financial and lifestyle success; it all comes down to knowing what really matters to them and setting goals to get there.

The survey covered 3,000 participants from the age of 16 to those in their 80s and beyond, and the 60-69-year-old age group emerged as more likely than all other age groups to feel positive, happy, relaxed and comfortable, and less likely to feel frustrated, anxious, stressed or bored.

The 60-somethings were also more likely than all other Aussies to say that nothing holds them back from doing things they care about, as well as more likely to say that they weren’t worried about what other people thought of them.

As well as not sweating the small stuff, this lucky age group also knows that maintaining a community of friends and acquaintances is important. While family is their priority, they’re much more likely than Australians of other ages to make sure they stay in touch with people outside the family. And although they’re happy to put themselves first when circumstances require, they more commonly think of others first.

Most of all, the 60-somethings come through the survey as comfortable and confident within themselves; they’re typically less worried than others about talking about ageing with both their children and their own parents, more at ease than others with talking to strangers and noticeably far happier to have a “deep, personal” conversation with their partner.

“People learn what to stress about and what not to stress about,” Daniel Walsh, Perpetual’s advice general manager for New South Wales, says of the survey results. “They’ve learned to gain peace with their situation, and it’s not all about money because not all of those surveyed are affluent.

When it comes to finances, Walsh describes the 60-69 age group as “financially disciplined but not financially obsessed”.

“This cohort grew up post-war when times were tougher and a lot of good financial discipline as a result; they plan and they stick to the plan. People who have discipline and are confident they’re on the right track – that’s the difference between those who get where they want to go and those that don’t.”

These characteristics are evident in the survey results, with 60-somethings more likely than any other age group to set savings goals and actually save to meet them, and to make an investment plan. They’re also more likely to write down or record their plans in some way and to save up for a special purchase.

That’s no doubt why just 36 percent of 60-69-year-olds cite a lack of money as something that holds them back from doing things they really care about, compared to 55 percent of all other Australians.

Walsh emphasises the importance of this type of goal-setting when it comes to planning for retirement, whether it be the production of income or another outcome. He says there are a few relatively simple steps that can be used by people of all ages to set them on the right path:

  1. Identify what makes you happy, remembering that it may not be money that will acquiring it will require
  2. Plan what you believe is an achievable goal around the answer to what makes you happy
  3. Keep careful track of your progress toward that goal.

Do you see yourself in these findings about Australian 60-somethings? Do you think discipline in reaching financial goals is an important money skill?

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