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Financial discipline equals happiness in retirement

Walter Hamilton Los Angeles Times

People who are financially disciplined feel more secure about their finances and are likelier to be happy in retirement, according to a new study.

Sure, that’s a no-brainer, but it’s worth reinforcing for people not naturally inclined toward fiscal responsibility.

The study by Northwestern Mutual divided people into four categories based on how diligently they plan their financial lives: highly disciplined, disciplined, informal and those who don’t plan at all.

Seven in 10 people who describe themselves as highly disciplined report feeling very secure about their finances, the study found.

That compares with 51 percent who rate themselves as merely disciplined and 34 percent in the informal camp, the study found. Among those who do no financial planning, only 17 percent say they feel very financially secure.

It’s not easy to be highly disciplined. Only 18 percent of people classify themselves that way. That means they’ve set out clear goals, developed a strategy for meeting them and – toughest of all – are following through with their plans.

The feeling of financial calm extends to people who have retired. Among that group, 91 percent of people who were highly disciplined in planning their financial futures say they’re happy in retirement. Only 63 percent of nonplanners felt the same way.

“Happiness can’t be bought, of course, but it can be planned for,” said Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “The links between discipline, financial security and happiness are quite distinct. There’s some powerful evidence to suggest that the small steps you take today can make a real difference tomorrow.”

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