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Study results showed that nearly two-out-of-ten people already in retirement still want to “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to their quality of life and financial independence.

Competing with our peers is instinctive. If the neighbors have an expensive car, we want a more expensive car. If the neighbors just went on a luxurious vacation, we want to go on a more luxurious vacation. And, according to a new survey from ING Retirement Research Institute, if the neighbors have a healthy retirement savings, we want a healthier retirement savings.

This new survey shows people not only upgrade cars and vacations to keep up with peers, they also increase retirement savings to compete with their peers’ savings. In fact, more than half of the survey participants said they would save more for retirement if their current savings wasn’t on par with their peers’. What’s more, the survey showed people used the size of their retirement savings more so than material possessions and salary when gauging themselves against others.

Because it’s not exactly polite to ask your neighbor how much he has saved for retirement, websites like INGCompareMe.com and ING State of Savings Map offer interactive tools that let consumers compare their retirement savings, debt levels and spending habits to their peers to gauge where they stand.

For a more detailed analysis of the survey, see “ING U.S. Study Sheds Light on Peer Comparison and the Retirement ‘State of Savings’ in America” or review the “Shedding Light on Retirement” White Paper released by the ING Retirement Research Institute here.

For more information on retirement planning, please visit my estate planning website.

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