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Is there such a thing as a checklist to avoid retirement planning mistakes ?


One of the biggest concerns for older adults and people in later years is that they did not fully think out their retirement plan. Usually their concern centres around not having started early enough to start saving for their retirement. A little less obvious is not what they got right, but all the things they got wrong.

Most of us have probably asked ourselves these general questions while planning for our retirement:

-Will I have enough money to last my lifetime when I retire?

-What if I want to spend a little more now, will I be able to make it up or not miss this amount later on?

-Will I be able to help out my kids from my retirement savings?

-Should I stay in my home or sell it and move to a retirement home?

-What would be the yearly expenses involved if I decide to go to a retirement home?

-Should I move now to be closer to my kids?

But in reality with all the above questions we are basically asking one fundamental thing - how can I ensure that I do not make a decision now that seems great but one that I will end up regretting years later when It may be too late to change?

To help you, here are some of the worst retirement planning mistakes made by most people.  While some concern issues you should have done or not done before retiring, yet others are about things you should be aware of after retiring.



Being too cautious

Don’t be over cautious in your investments. Some financial investment advisors may strongly advise you to change your investment portfolio to be more prudent.  They might recommend that you move your money to a mixture of safe stocks with low yield and fixed deposit investments.

But in the long run it might be better if you stick to the more varied portfolio that you have now. If you retire at around 65 and if you expect to live to your 90s then it may be a good idea to try and ride the stock market wave and not be over cautious. Being unnecessarily prudent means you may miss out on the highs the more varied stock could be bringing to your retirement investment.


Being too greedy

Once you have divided your investment portfolio into equities, fixed investment and safe bonds, do not hesitate to rethink the percentage in order to align with your goals. If one sector had a good run, do not hold on to it for too long. The question you need to ask yourself is, if a particular bond or stock had an excellent run and your share prices went up, once it hits a peak do not hesitate to sell and cash in your profits to reinvest in other slower but steadier stocks. The reason being you are probably not the only person thinking that this particular stock that had a good run is now probably over-priced and just itching to sell.

On the other hand, do not be impatient to sell bonds that have not performed well. Give it time and take your time to study the market before making a hasty decision you may end up regretting later.

Your primary concern must be to hold true to your retirement plan. If that means selling off more volatile stocks when they are high and holding on to bonds that are not performing as expected as so be it. Being flexible but patient should be part of your long term strategy.


Trying to become someone you are not

This is a classic retirement planning mistake. Just because you are retired does not mean that you are going to completely change your personality. If you have been an active extrovert fond of sports and hanging out with friends your entire life, planning for retirement in a secluded calm region with very little adventure sports is probably not the wisest of decisions.

In the same way if you have been somewhat of a private person your entire life with little inclination to socialize weekly, planning to retire in a very socially active retirement community maybe a mistake you might regret later on.

In other words don’t make big decisions now on what big life change you think you will take when you retire. Plan for what you know and like best. We are all creatures of habit. Know what you like best and plan accordingly.


Rushing in to make hasty decisions

We have all had plans go astray. When we were young we probably had plans to be in a certain career or vocation. We may have achieved that childhood goal, done something similar or even gone for something completely different. Then comes families, kids, career advancement, then now at retirement, chances are you have probably already got a list of things you plan to do or a goal you want to accomplish.

After talking to and watching peers who retired, all I can suggest is this. Do not rush in to new opportunities or be in a haste to set up new goals. Take your time. Reflect on what a certain goal would mean to you in terms of time, energy, investment in money, the things you may have to forgo or gain because of this one goal.

It is better to take one’s time rather than to make a hasty decision one regrets later on. There will always be other opportunities in case you miss that particular one.


Miscalculating your retirement budget

Of all the retirement planning mistakes, this is probably one of the worst. Some financial advisors are prone to say that one’s expenses decrease when we retire. We don’t have to spend that much on incidental expenditures connected to work, gas for the car, even clothes for work, things like that. I think this is short-sighted.

Even if you are not working full-time you are still paying taxes, tax relating to your house, and other incomes from investment and funds. Then there is the budget for extra travel, outings, any new hobbies or past) time that your new free time allows you to indulge in. Not to mention an increase in insurance premiums and health care related expenses.


Looking from this point of view, some expenses may actually go up rather than down.

Know what your priorities are, research, look around, ask around, take time to reflect and then decide on what you want your retired life to be. Be aware of the most common retirement planning mistakes and try to avoid them by planning well in advance.

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