Achieving a Financially Secure Retirement:  A Retirement Community Case Study

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Virginia Tech

In the wake of recent events, especially the Great Recession of 2007-2009, affecting the economy, resulting in job losses, personal financial distress, and gloomy perceptions of their future well-being, many Americans are concerned about their financial quality of life in retirement. The media is replete with a plethora of advertisements for retirement planning and financial products for an aging population. By 2030, nearly 20 percent of the population of the United States will be 65 or older. This case study was an examination of a group of retirees who are financially secure enough to reside in retirement communities that require prequalification of assets. The study will serve to inform people on the path to retirement of what those who have been successful actually did so that those in the pipeline may take into consideration their actions and avoid acts of commission or omission that might impede or destroy their chances of reaching a financially secure retirement.

The study results showed that not only were the participants financially literate, they were planners. It also became apparent that financial literacy was acquired over time and that becoming financially literate and planning for retirement were dynamic processes that were not discrete. Another finding was that although financial literacy may have a positive impact on success in achieving a financially secure retirement, other factors such as world events, self-control, and luck could affect the realization of a retirement that is financially secure. The first-hand qualitative information gathered in the course of this study will enrich comprehension of the scope of the issues of financial literacy and retirement in America and perhaps form the basis of additional academic research. Finally, the conclusions of this study are significant not only for individual prospective retirees, but also for educators, financial industry professionals, and policy-makers as they craft educational programs, construct financial portfolios, and formulate legislation to help ensure the financial security of an ever-growing population of elders.

Adult Learning, Finance, Financial Literacy, Retirement, Retirement Planning, Public Policy