A wise teacher once said, “The difference between an old man and an elderly gentlemen is adequate income.” Most people have a goal of adequate retirement income. Tragically, so many fail to reach that goal. They don’t plan to fail, but they fail to plan. Here are some common mistakes:
Depending on someone else to do it for you. Many assume social security and possibly a company retirement plan will provide for comfortable retirement. This is rarely the case. You must be the one planning for the total retirement picture. No one else will do it if you don’t.
You have a dream rather than a goal. A dream is easy. But it will never happen without quantified goals. Have specific dollar goals at specific dates using reasonable rates of return, inflation and longevity assumptions. Remember, dreams can turn into nightmares.
You start too late. The longer money is invested the more likely it will grow. The longer you wait to start, the more it will take to have adequate retirement.
You don’t know how to save. Too many focus on consumption and immediate satisfaction. So many today want everything now and will run up encumbering debt to have it, instead of saving a little. Establish a pattern of regular saving, and do it now.
You expect someone else to think for you. Most people have limited education and experience in managing money. Learn the basics. Seek appropriate help, but you make the final decisions.
You micromanage your retirement investment. Aggressive management of a retirement portfolio is often counterproductive. Don’t make short-term decisions on a long term investment. Develop an appropriate strategy and stick with it—and be patient.
Your planning ends too soon. Retirement day does not mark the end of retirement planning. The need for planning continues well beyond the day you retire. Some decisions at retirement are critical and permanent. Find out your options and evaluate carefully before deciding.
You fail to consider the twin terrors: taxes and inflation. Inflation and taxes do not stop when you retire. If someone retires at age 65, it’s not unusual for them to find in their mid 80’s the buying power of their retirement income has been cut in half – simply due to inflation. Funding a retirement benefit must allow for inflation and taxes.