Consumer Reports recently asked its retired readers what they wish they had done differently in preparing for their later years. Their biggest regrets had to do with their saving habits. Some 35 percent wish they had started saving earlier (only 15 percent started in their 20’s) and 30 percent wish they had saved more each year. One overall conclusion: the sooner a person started saving, the more satisfied they were with their retirement.
This article brought to mind a book I read last year called Stumbling on Happiness by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert. After spending most of the book explaining, often with a lot of humor, why we tend to make decisions that work against our happiness, his advice was simply to talk with people who have gone before us to see how their decisions worked out. Think a red sports car is the key to a blissful future? Talk to owners of red sports cars. So, while we’ve all heard it before that we should save more, coming from those who are now trying to live on what they’ve saved adds a few exclamation points to the advice.