(Dow Jones) Some people say they want things like an Internet connection and an annual family vacation, while other say they feel they need such things. The same may go for having a pet. For many baby boomers, those are all basic needs, not luxuries, according to a new survey.
Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said having an Internet connection is a basic need, and 66% said shopping for birthdays and special occasions is. Fifty-one percent said pet care is a basic need, and 50% said taking a family vacation once a year is a need, not a luxury, according to a recent survey by MainStay Investments of 1,049 consumers aged 45 to 65.
As baby boomers reach retirement age, they are redefining what constitutes a luxury item and what defines a basic need, but being able to afford those basic needs may affect the way some boomers prepare for retirement.
"We've seen that boomers really want to have it all," said Matt Leung, director and head of practice management programs at MainStay Investments.
Traditionally, basic needs extended to three categories: food, clothing and shelter. But that's changing. Here's more information on the portion of boomers surveyed who find the following items to be basic needs: weekend getaways, 46%; professional hair color/cut, 43%; children, grandchildren's education, 42%; dining out, 38%; domestic travel, 35%; ordering takeout, 34%; and movies, 30%.
Many boomers said they're willing to alter the way they save for retirement-or even work a few more years-in order to maintain their pre-retirement lifestyle, the study found.
About three in four respondents said they would rather spend less now so they can invest in a more comfortable retirement. And 47% said they would downsize their home in retirement to be able to afford their lifestyle expenses.
But what survey participants say on a survey may differ from what they end up doing, said Dr. David Stewart, a financial psychologist who focuses on consumer behavior, and dean of the school of business administration at the University of California at Riverside.
"The socially desirable response, the seemingly responsible response, is 'Yes, I do need to save for retirement more,' but the reality is the baby boomer generation as a whole... has not adequately saved for retirement," Stewart said.
Retired lawyer Steve Lawton, 67, said he didn't consider planning for retirement until later in life. As an attorney in the Washington, D.C., area, he made mortgage payments and put two daughters through private schools and college, not giving much thought to his retirement fund.