9 Of The Biggest Retirement Savings Mistakes

October 28, 2015 | J. Price McNamara
9 Of The Biggest Retirement Savings Mistakes

In today's retirement scenario, most 65-year-old retirees can expect to spend roughly 20 years in retirement once they stop working. Of these retirees, the Social Security Administration estimates that a quarter will reach age 90, and only a small fraction of those (10 percent) will make it past the age of 95. So what do those numbers mean? They mean that if you want to be comfortable when you retire you should avoid these nine common retirement saving mistakes. Mistake One: Not having a plan for your retirement funds. Retirement experts say the number one blunder that workers make is not having a plan for their money in when they retire. The solution for this is to have a plan that looks at your expected retirement income, investments, Social Security and pensions to ensures that all of these will comfortably cover your living expenses. If you don't have the knowledge to do this on your own, don't be discouraged. See a financial planner for help in figuring this out. Mistake Two: Failing to account for inflation when planning your retirement. Another common blunder people make is forgetting that today's dollar will not be the same as a dollar will be 20 years in the future. Moreover, the problem of inflation can quickly erode your purchasing power. As such, it should be calculated when you figure out your retirement plan. Mistake Three: Not saving enough money for your retirement needs. The best retirement plan in the world can't compensate for a retirement account that does not have enough funds. Save big by cutting small expenses to free up cash for retirement years. Remember, making small sacrifices now can mean big returns for your retirement account if you invest properly. Mistake Four: Taking money from your retirement accounts too early. Although it may be tempting, put money into your retirement accounts and do not touch it! Dipping into retirement accounts early is a serious blunder that can delay your retirement and mean extra fees and fines. Loans can be taken from your 401(k) account and IRA funds can be withdrawn early for certain needs, like educational expenses, but experts say doing this is a big mistake. Depositing money and letting it build interest without interference is the best way to go. Mistake Five: Getting too emotional about your investments. Another retirement savings mistake is getting emotional when you invest. Savers are often excited to invest but panic and unload the stock if it dips. Experts say that poor timing is likely a huge reason that investors have such small returns over the last 30-year period when the market returns should have been much larger. If your accounts dip, do not panic, stay the course and talk to your investment firm before taking any unnecessary action. Mistake Six: Conservative investments. Financial experts say that many investor returns are lagging behind benchmarks like the S&P 500 because people are being too conservative with their investments. Instead, investors need to ensure that they have enough growth in their funds to keep up with inflation and stretch money over what could the entire length of their retirement. But they also caution that proper planning is critical. Retirees often live 25 to 30 years in retirement so they need to plan accordingly. Mistake Seven: Missing your employer's 401(k) match. American workers are estimated to be missing out on $24 billion per year in matching funds for their 401(k) retirement accounts. This is money employers would be depositing in retirement accounts if only workers made their own contributions. Don't fall into this category. Find out about what you can contribute and start doing it as soon as possible. Mistake Eight: Sticking your head in the sand. Many of today's future retirees are neglecting their retirement savings because they think they cannot afford to save. This amounts to putting your head in the sand and is very dangerous. Retirement is coming some day whether we like it or not, so the best plan is to be prepared. Additionally, it is never too late to start squirreling away money, so get started today! Mistake Nine: Failing to be realistic. While it is good to be optimistic, it can be very dangerous to be overly optimistic. Have a plan and be prepared. Winning the lottery or starting a multimillion dollar business are remote possibilities but should not be the factors that determine your retirement. Be realistic and be prepared. Do not count on business opportunities, inheritance or other remote possibilities to plan for your retirement. Do it now.

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J. Price McNamara


Losing my own brother, then my father and sister after long, disabling illnesses just a few months apart drove a career change for me. Before that experience, I never truly understood the place you’re in. I never understood the dramatic impact that receiving (or not receiving) the disability and life insurance benefits you paid for and counted on can have on your life especially when you need to focus on family and healing. What I experienced with my own family now drives the way I view my clients and my work, and I will never forget it!

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