More than one quarter (27%) of older people surveyed for Aviva's Real Retirement Report said that financial stability was the most important factor to them, with only good health coming ahead of this on their priority list.
Age campaigners said the findings "dispel the myth" that the so-called baby boomer generation has sailed through the tough economy in recent years.
Some 38% of those surveyed said the state of their health was the most important factor to them, while less than one in five (17%) over-55s said that sharing their retirement with a partner was of the most value.
One in eight (12%) older people placed a happy family life at the top of their list and one in 33 (3%) said their hobbies and interests were the factors they most value.
Among the over-55s with annual incomes of up to £15,000, Aviva found that almost three times as many place greater value on having enough money to live on comfortably than sharing their retirement with a partner, at 34% against 12%.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director for Age UK, said: "This report dispels the myth that people aged 55-64, the so called baby boomers, have sailed through the economic crisis and are financially thriving."
The findings were made one year into the Government's landmark scheme to automatically place millions of people into workplace pensions.