Over 50s wish they hadn't retired so young

Does this mean we're happy with rising State Pension age?

Older people think they retired too young

Rising state pension ages may not be such a bad thing - because most retired people wish they'd kept working later in life. Some 85% of people over the age of 50 feel they retired too early - and the older people get, the more regret they have.

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News of increases in the state pension age have been met with anger and dismay, as people of working age see their golden years retreating over the horizon. The idea of working into their late 60s and early 70s fills millions of people with horror. However, a study by SunLife seems to show that later retirement ages are perhaps not such a terrible thing.

On average, those that are retired or semi-retired think they did so two and a half years too early. Those over 70 think they retired three years too early. Less than 10% think they retired too late and just 5% say they got the timing right.

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife said: "Our research shows that people aged 50 and over feel 10 years younger mentally and almost four years younger physically, so, far from being 'over the hill', people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are feeling fit, healthy and sharp, which could explain why so many feel they gave up work too early and why so many are starting new careers."

Not the whole story

Unfortunately, enthusiasm for working later isn't just a matter of feeling they have more to offer, however. Another major motivation is that people don't have the cash in retirement that they expected. Of course, in this respect the state pension age increases make matters worse - because younger retirees will have to get by without state support for longer.

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Almost one in five told researchers that they supplement their income with extra earnings such as Air BNB, eBay, private tutoring, exam invigilating and working for the elections office. Others are using their skills to make crafts and cakes to sell while others even model for art classes.

Retirees therefore need to find the right balance between rest and relaxation, challenge and variety - and of course income. Atkinson says: "Many people in their 50s, 60s and 70s have made big changes in their work lives, by either dropping to part time, or giving up stressful careers to do something they are more passionate about. Far from being the end of working life, for many, turning 50 actually offers a brand new start."

One respondent switched her high-powered, high-paid job to work locally and it has changed her life for the better. The 53-year-old said: "By leaving a very stressful job where I had to travel all over England I am now working part time in the local coffee shop in my village and couldn't be happier. I earn a great deal less, but I am near home and my ageing father for emergencies. I don't waste any time or money commuting, and feel quite happy."

But what do you think? Do you want to retire before your state pension age, or do you plan to retire as late as possible? Let us know in the comments.

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