For years, retirement may have seemed like a far-off daydream, but as you near this chapter in life, it's important to make certain decisions about your future — and avoid the most common retirement mistakes.
Before retirement arrives, you'll want to ensure that you're informed about the following retirement planning pitfalls. Even if you've made one of these mistakes, rest assured that there are steps you can take to put your retirement planning back on track.
1. Leaving Retirement Planning on the Back Burner for Too Long
Contributing to your retirement accounts is crucial, but it's only the start of planning for your future. Many people forget to prioritize retirement preparedness beyond contributing to their 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). In fact, a 2016 Center for a Secure Retirement (CSR) survey found that only 61% of baby boomers had taken steps to actively plan for their retirement.
What does adequate planning for retirement look like? To start, it's a good idea to come up with a monthly retirement income goal based on your cost of living. You should also consider how your lifestyle might change in retirement. For instance, will you downsize your home or move to a different area? What will be most important to you in retirement? What steps do you need to take to achieve your retirement goals?
By creating a written plan, you can start to work toward making your retirement dreams a reality.
2. Planning for Retirement Alone
If you haven't received any specialized education on retirement finances, you certainly are not alone. Fortunately, now is a great time to take advantage of all the retirement resources available to you.
Consider attending seminars, reading up on retirement planning best practices, and working with a financial professional if you have yet to do so. By seeking assistance and doing your research, you can make informed choices and set yourself up for a relaxed retirement.
3. Forgetting to Plan for Retirement Care
Many baby boomers are more prepared for death than life, according to the findings of a CSR study from 2019. The study found that 81% of middle-income boomers have made at least one formal preparation for when they pass, but barely one-third have made plans for receiving long-term care in retirement.
While estate planning is important, it's also critical to plan for medical care that you might need later in life. You should begin planning now for how you'll pay for ongoing care if you need it. Get acquainted with your health insurance and Medicare benefits, and consider options such as Medicare Supplement insurance or long-term care insurance to fill any gaps in coverage.
4. Taking an All-or-Nothing Approach to Work
Retirement doesn't need to be a complete departure from the working world. Lots of retirees continue working after retirement, as it can be a good way to follow your passions, increase your income and stay connected with other people.
Whether you start a part-time job, pick up work as a consultant or take on jobs in the gig economy, working in retirement can be gratifying. Seventy-eight percent of working retirees surveyed by CSR report that they find their new gig just as satisfying — if not more satisfying — than their pre-retirement work.
Simply being aware of these common retirement mistakes can make you less susceptible to them. Remember, even if you make mistakes along the way to a prosperous retirement, there are resources available and professionals who are ready to lend a helping hand.