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Recently Retired Households Segment Summary April 2014

Source: 2012–13 MacroMonitor

Beginning on 1 January 2011 and on each and every day thereafter for the next 19 years—until 2030—according to Pew Research, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will celebrate their 65th birthday. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2000, 35 million citizens were age 65 or older; by 2030, over 70 million citizens will be age 65 and older. As a result, their needs will alter society and will challenge many US social programs, institutions, retailers, and financial-services providers, because households headed by Baby Boomers control the majority of publicly held financial assets. Household heads between ages 65 and 69 are of particular interest because they are members of a group Ken Dychtwald (psychologist and noted author of Age Wave) dubbed "Age Scouts." Consumer-behavior data consistently support Dychtwald's assertion that Age Scouts predict many attitudes and behaviors that Older Boomers (and subsequent cohorts) will exhibit as they mature. Traditionally, when a household head retires, spending declines and then continues to contract. Many more Boomer households than Greatest Generation households have two earners. Frequently, each earner has a different retirement time frame. To understand better the shift away from consumption and the changing need for various financial products and services that help retirees conserve and manage financial resources, this summary focuses on recently retired households with heads between the ages of 65 and 69.


Recently retired households consist of households that can afford to retire comfortably (about 40%) and households that have accepted living in fixed financial circumstances. Households with single heads are about four times as likely to be headed by women (42%) than by men (10%).

  • The mean age of recently retired household heads (HHHs) is 67.
  • The mean income is $52K, in comparison with $69K for all US households.
  • Roughly one-third have a high-school diploma, one-third have some college, and one-third have an undergraduate degree or higher.
  • Almost one-half are married; almost one-quarter are divorced. One in five households support adult dependents.
  • Slightly more than one-third are Older Boomers; two-thirds are Age Scouts.
  • They are average for living in a single-family dwelling (67%). One in five live in a rural area.
  • One-third are veterans of the United States military because many men were drafted into service.
  • Some 87% receive Social Security; over half (58%) are receiving pension payments.


Recently retired households have lower-than-average liability and higher-than-average assets—they are financially prepared for retirement.

  • Mean total net worth is $629K, in comparison with $365K for all households; liabilities are $57K, versus $90K for all households.
  • Mean balance in retirement accounts is $280K; mean assets are $1014K.
  • They are more likely than average to have a HELOC and less likely than average to have a first mortgage, vehicle loan, or consumer loan; slightly more than one-third do not have an outstanding credit balance.

Financial Attitudes and Tidbits

Recently retired households prefer lower-than-average investment risk. The majority (70%) are satisfied with their household's current financial situation; the same proportion enjoy managing their finances. Almost two-thirds are in a position to meet their long-term financial goals.

  • Only 1 in 5 households are confident that their savings would tide them over in case of illness.
  • Half are confident that their investments are so good that additional life insurance is not necessary. However, roughly half agree that assisted-living or in-home-care insurance is important for their household.
  • About two-thirds rely on Medicare for most health-care needs.
  • They are below average in concern about the need to change their lifestyle in order to live in comfort; they are below average in worry about outliving their savings and investments.


Age Scouts' shift from earning and spending to living on a fixed income is dependent on their financial preparedness, guaranteed income streams, and ability to reduce spending. For example, households with heads age 65 and older who are still working have an estimated mean of 665 total annual financial transactions. Preretired households with heads between the ages of 60 and 64 have a mean number of 659 transactions. Recently retired households with heads between the ages of 65 and 69 have a mean number of 594 transactions, and early-retired households with heads younger than age 65 have a mean number of 439 transactions. Up to a point, the number of financial transactions made by recently retired households will continue to contract. As household heads age, concerns about longevity and potential medical expenses increase; spending contracts further in an effort to make financial resources last—spending for medical expenses increases. As household heads reach retirement age, each successive generational cohort is less prepared; fewer have potential income streams, and higher proportions have significant liabilities. Data about Age Scouts—who are less likely to be able to retire successfully—indicate that more heads will initially work longer and soon realize that they must severely constrain spending. Financial products, services, and advice for the Greatest Generation will be neither appropriate nor adequate for Older Baby Boomers. The schism between the retirement haves and have-nots will grow. Younger Boomers will provide a fertile testing ground for Gen Xers who follow them.

Learn more: Contact us to request an on-site presentation of these findings along with a Q&A session. Presentations are available to MacroMonitor subscribers for a small additional fee.