Richard Dinham (left) and Jason Andriessen (right)

Semi-retirees worry about money the most and they feel least secure, according to a study conducted by global financial services provider Fidelity and researcher MYMAVINS.

The study, titled New Life Old Life, surveyed 1,207 Australians over 45 and explored when they planned to retire, what they thought retirement looked like, and how they prepared for retirement.

The research found 41 per cent of semi-retirees stress about money every week. 11 per cent worry about it monthly; 28 per cent fret about it a few times a year; and 20 per cent rarely ever think about it, if at all.

“They’re not yet into the groove of retirement,” Fidelity head of client solutions and retirement Richard Dinham said at the study’s launch on Wednesday.

“Most of us put lots of energy into building our careers, but not necessarily the inevitable wind-down phase of our working life.”

Dinham added that this is surprising because many people said they wanted to transition into retirement.

“The evidence shows that actively planning for this phase of our lives makes the transition more successful,” Dinham said.

“It’s therefore concerning that many Australians will find the start of their retirement years more stressful and difficult than they expected, or than it needs to be.”

The path to retirement is shorter than expected

Another key finding of the report was that the runway to retirement is shorter than expected.

“This is because many people do not work for as long as they intend to; sometimes the reasons are out of their control,” MYMAVINS consulting partner Jason Andriessen said.

Personal health issues, the need to care for someone suffering from health issues, or job redundancy are the top three reasons why people retire earlier than planned, according to the study.

Retiring earlier than expected can cause both emotional and financial stress.

The research found the average age at which Australians plan to reduce their work commitments and transition into retirement is 62.5 years. The average age they would like to retire completely is 64.8 years.

In reality, however, the average age at which Australians start reducing their work commitments is 61.4 years, and the average age they fully retire at is 63.4 years.

Dinham said this gap between planning and reality makes people feel out of control.

“A key driver of a positive emotional experience at retirement is a sense of control in the decision,” Dinham said in a media release accompanying the report on Wednesday.

He added that those who didn’t perceive they had a choice when they stopped full-time work had a terrible time.

“Whatever the conditions that bring about our retirement, there are things we can do to prepare and improve our circumstances – and, more importantly, our quality of life in retirement,” Dinham said.

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