Baby Boomers: What Are You Thinking About?

Surprising findings about what older American are (and aren't!) thinking about.

 
Money, work, and health are what older Americans think about the most every day of their lives, says a survey by GoBankingRates, which interviewed more than 5,000 people of all ages.

Among all Americans, money led the way with 26.4 percent saying it's the No. 1 thought in their mind every day. That's followed by 26.2 percent saying it's work and 17 percent citing health.

"It's not surprising that money is the top concern of most Americans because it affects everything we do," says Cameron Huddleston, a personal finance expert with GoBankingRates. "Work was right up there with it. Those go hand in hand - your work and your income."

But the survey showed that as people age, health becomes the biggest concern, and the thought of money lessens, and politics even becomes a bigger issue to them as well.

For those 45 to 54, which includes the oldest of Generation X and youngest of the Baby Boomers, 30 percent cite work and 28 percent say it's money. Health comes in a distant third at 14 percent.

For Baby Boomers 55 to 64, work is 27 percent and health comes in second at 25 percent. Money is third at 24 percent. Some older Americans are even losing sleep.

"Thinking about work makes sense because these are the highest earning years for a lot of people, so you are thinking how secure is my job coming off the recession, and am I earning enough now so that I have enough money when I'm ready to retire," Huddleston says. "How good of a position is my job to be able to achieve those goals that I have?"

For those 65 and older, including many who've retired, their health is the dominant thought, with 32 percent citing it. Work was No. 2 at 20 percent and money fell is third at 18 percent for that group.

Health plays a key role for people who are older obviously because as you age more and more health issues are going to arise, Huddleston says. Baby Boomers think about health and fitness twice as much as Millennials.

"So many of these responses are at the forefront of people's minds for the stage of life you are in," Huddleston says. "People who are younger are thinking about their love lives because that's what they're doing right now. When you're older and more and more of those health issues are creeping up, it's a bigger concern. You stop and think about those issues that are nagging you ever day whether it's your high blood pressure or that you can't run as far as you used to. Health even ties into money because health care is expensive and eats so much of your budget. You think how I am going to pay for it."

The interest in politics increases as people age, the survey shows. For those 18 to 34, only 4 percent say they think about politics the most on a daily basis. It grows to only 7 percent for those 35 to 64 and from there goes to 17 percent for those 65 and older.

"It's not too surprising giving everything you hear about voting demographics because older people turn out at the polls at much higher rates than younger people," Huddleston says. "Given that Social Security and Medicare are so often discussed by politicians and people are relying on both of those benefits that makes it important."

Those who earn more than $150,000 think the most about politics at 14.3 percent. Those who earn less than $25,000 think the least about it at 8.2 percent. A lot of people stress about retirement.

The daily thoughts of a love life goes down as people age. It reaches a high of 27 percent for those 18 to 24. For those 45 to 54, it's 10 percent. It falls to 7 percent for those 55 to 64 and is 6 percent for those 65 and up.

All that means that millennials think about their love lives four times as much as Baby Boomers.

The survey also included a question on vacationing with that interest falling as people age. It's 11 percent for those 45 to 54. It's 9 percent for most Baby Boomers and falls to 6 percent for those 65 and older.

The survey shows men and women think about money equally. Women are more likely to think about health, love lives and vacationing than men, while men are more likely to think about work and politics.

The worry about money falls within a similar range for all income levels.

Those who earn less than $25,000 think about money the most with 30.4 percent citing that as the No. 1 concern. Those who earn between $50,000 and $75,000 think the least about money at 25 percent. It increases to 27 percent for those who make $100,000 to $150,000 and 28.6 percent for those who earn more than that.

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