Retirement Planning Mistakes You'll Regret Forever
As more and more baby boomers start eyeing the coastline of retirement, thoughts turn from the daily worry over the Monday-through-Friday commute to concerns about how to fund the golden years.
How prepared are you? How much money do you really need to retire? Do you know the ins and outs of your pension (if you're lucky enough to have one)? How about your 401(k), IRA and other retirement accounts that make up your nest egg? Do you have a good handle on when to claim Social Security benefits? These are some of the questions you will have to contemplate as the work days wind down. But long before you punch out, make sure you are making the right choices.
To help you out, we've compiled a list of the biggest retirement planning mistakes and how to avoid making them. Take a look to see if any sound familiar.
Relocating on a Whim
The lure of warmer climates has long been the siren call of many who are approaching retirement. So you're cooking up a plan to head south to Florida or one of the many other great places to retire if you hate the cold. Our best advice: Test the waters before you make a permanent move.
Too many folks have trudged off willy-nilly to what they thought was a dream destination only to find that it's more akin to a nightmare. The pace of life is too slow, everyone is a stranger, and endless rounds of golf and walks on the beach grow tiresome. Well before your retirement date, spend extended vacation time in your anointed destination to get a feel for the people and lifestyle. This is especially true if you're thinking about retiring overseas, where new languages, laws and customs can overwhelm even the hardiest retirees.
Once you do make the plunge, consider renting before buying. A couple I know retired and circled Savannah, Ga., for their retirement nest. But wisely, as it turned out, they decided to lease an apartment downtown for a year before building or buying a new home in the suburbs. Turns out the Deep South didn't suit their Northern Virginia get-it-done-now temperament. They are instead thinking of joining the ranks of "halfback retirees" - people who head south, find they don't like it, and move halfway back toward their former home up north.
Falling for Too-Good-To-Be-True Offers
Hard work, careful planning and decades' worth of wealth-building are the foundations for achieving financial security in retirement. There are no short cuts. Yet, Americans lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to get-rich-quick and other scams, according to the FTC. Of the more than 3 million complaints received in 2016, 37% were filed by people ages 60 and over. Fraud victims reported paying $744 million to scammers.
States' Attorney General offices and the FTC offer tips for spotting too-good-to-be-true offers. Tell-tale signs include guarantees of spectacular profits in a short time frame without risk; requests to wire money or pay a fee before you can receive a prize; or unnecessary demands to provide bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other sensitive financial information. Also be wary of -- in fact, run away from - anyone pressuring you to make an immediate decision or discouraging you from getting advice from an impartial third party.
What do you do if you suspect a scam? The FTC advises running the company or product name, along with "review," "complaint" or "scam," through Google or another search engine. You can also check with your local consumer protection office or your state attorney general to see if they've fielded any complaints. If they have, add yours to the list. Be sure to file a complaint with the FTC, too.
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Ponzi-Proof Your Retirement
Planning to Work Indefinitely
Many baby boomers like me have every intention of staying on the job beyond age 65, either because we want to, we have to, or we desire to maximize our Social Security checks. But that plan could backfire.
Consider this: 53% of workers expect to work beyond age 65 to make ends meet, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Yet, you can't count on being able to bring in a paycheck if you need it. While more than half of today's workers plan to continue working in retirement, just 1 in 5 Americans age 65 and over are actually employed, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
You could be forced to stop working retire early for any number of reasons, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Health-related issues -- either your own or those of a loved one -- are a major factor. So, too, are employer-related issues such as downsizing, layoffs and buyouts. Failing to keep skills up to date is another reason older workers can struggle to get hired.
The actionable advice: Assume the worst, and save early and often. Only 28% of baby boomers surveyed by Transamerica have a backup plan to replace retirement income if unable to continue working.
SEE ALSO: 12 Ways to Go Broke in Retirement
Putting Off Saving for Retirement
The single biggest financial regret of Americans surveyed by Bankrate was waiting too long to start saving for retirement. Not surprisingly, respondents 50 and older expressed this regret at a much higher rate than younger respondents.
"Many people do not start to aggressively save for retirement until they reach their 40s or 50s," says Ajay Kaisth, a certified financial planner with KAI Advisors in Princeton Junction, N.J. "The good news for these investors is that they may still have enough time to change their savings behavior and achieve their goals, but they will need to take action quickly and be extremely disciplined about their savings."
Shifting the responsibility of socking away savings for retirement from one set of shoulders to another has been a gradual, but sure, change.
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Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors