No one intentionally sets out to ruin their retirement. The alarming statistics, however, seem to paint a different picture. Poor investing decisions derail retirement. Two other common patterns emerge: cashing out retirement funds early and saving too late.
The bottom line is, people make choices, financial or otherwise, that eventually rob them of good years ahead. Here are five ways to waste your retirement plan. These choices may seem to benefit you at first but you’ll regret making them in the long run.
1. Too much spending.
How much is too much? Here’s how most people think: if I’m earning a lot more money than my peers, then it only makes sense to spend more than they do. The truth is, it is much easier to buy than it is to earn money. You’re not exempt from the effects of an economic downturn such as higher inflation rates and layoffs. In fact, many of those who delayed retirement lose their jobs and had difficulties paying for the big stuff they bought while they were still earning. They soon find themselves stuck in the vicious circle of debt.
Overspending and overeating mean having little money (or none at all) saved for the future. Wasting, and not accumulating, wealth is the easiest way to ruin your retirement.
2. Having too much debt.
It’s one thing to incur debt and another thing to not manage debt wisely. Also, there is good debt and there is bad debt. Personal debts that work for you are good. Think of your house, kids’ college education and anything you need but can’t afford to pay in full. Those are acceptable debts to have. Ideally, the amount of your long-term debt payments shouldn’t exceed 36% of your gross annual income. Many of us however commit these two fatal mistakes: (1) not distinguishing between a good and bad debt or between a need and a want; and (2) exceeding the 36-percent limit.
3. Not having or updating one’s retirement plan.
A lot of people are guilty of using the “set it and forget it” or the “ostrich” approach to retirement planning. They don’t know how much they’re supposed to save every month. They don’t explore their options. They’re blind to the many situations they might face later in life such as rising healthcare costs and unemployability. These people don’t have a detailed retirement plan at all. They’d rather stay ignorant of how much they’re earning, spending, and saving than deal with situations directly.
4. Relying on friends and family for financial advice.
You don’t need to be wealthy to sit down with a financial planner or retirement professional. A lot of people, however, depend on a family member or a friend who seems smart in handling money. Your loved ones may offer you great tips on retirement savings and investments, but they can’t match the experience and expertise of a professional who can objectively assess your finances. Friends and families may lie to you or may ignore your bad money habits. Financial experts won’t. Talk to one who truly understands your specific needs for retirement.
5. Underestimating future health-related expenses.
How much do you actually need to live comfortably during retirement? This is an important yet difficult question many aspiring retirees don’t even care to answer. Part of that difficulty is the potential length of your life, which remains unknown. Will you retire at 65 and live until 90? That’s 25 years worth of expenses. What about future healthcare spending? Experts agree on one thing: you can reduce future healthcare costs by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle as you age. Either way, it is important for you to work to figure out future living and health related expenses, and make sure those are budgeted into your retirement plans.
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