Delayed gratification and Retirement

What a Marshmallow Experiment Can Teach You About Retirement


Decades ago, in what's now come to be known as the "Marshmallow Experiment," Stanford researcher Walter Mischel gave a group of three to five year-olds a choice: Eat one marshmallow now, or wait fifteen minutes and get two marshmallows. The experiment was intended to measure children's ability to delay gratification.

What did Mischel discover? About 30 percent of the children were able to wait fifteen minutes to get the second marshmallow; the rest gobbled it down before the time was up.


So what does all this have to do with retirement planning? Quite a bit, actually. The fact is, almost half of all Americans start their Social Security benefits at age 62, which provides the lowest possible income. But if they could instead wait until age 70 to start receiving benefits, they could almost double their monthly income and increase their expected lifetime payout.

Comment: The Stanford marshmallow experiment . I turn 62 in 18 days but won't be starting retirement or social security yet. But I doubt I wait until 70. I'm also not much of a marshmallow fan!

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