More birthdays give wealthy unwanted gift: anxiety

Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:15pm EST
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By Jennifer Hoyt Cummings

(Reuters) - If you knew you would be around to blow out the candles at your 100th birthday party, would that change how you manage your money today?

The answer was yes for three out of four affluent Americans polled in a Merrill Lynch survey released Wednesday. Many will make it there: if you're currently 65 and married, there is a 31 percent chance you or your spouse will live past 95, Merrill said, citing research from the Society of Actuaries.

Living to 100 would be a good thing, according to 58 percent of those polled in Merrill's bi-annual Affluent Insights Survey.

But the prospect of a long life is also causing anxiety. People planning for their later years are thinking about holding off on retiring and are reining in spending today.

"The word 'retire' and the number 65 had always been one in the same," said David Tyrie, head of personal wealth and retirement for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "That's just not the case anymore."

Merrill, which polled 1,000 Americans who had investable assets of $250,000 or more, found that just over half said they would rather retire later than make tradeoffs on their current way of life.

Still, if necessary, most said they would make sacrifices like trimming day-to-day expenses, purchasing fewer luxuries and cutting back on their vacation budgets.

NO TIKI BAR   Continued...

John "Jack" Babcock receives a cake to celebrate his 108th birthday in Spokane, Washington, July 23, 2008.