Retirement can creep up on you. One day you're climbing the corporate ladder or building a client base for your business. Next thing you know, you're in your 50s or 60s. Thoughts of spending your days playing golf, pursuing a favorite hobby, or traveling to far-flung regions start calling you away from the daily grind. But without careful planning, your golden years may become tarnished. Before you take that gold watch at your farewell party, make sure you're avoiding these retirement planning mistakes:
- Failure to plan. Ideally, you started planning for retirement early in your career and your investments have been growing. But maybe you've avoided such thoughts until now. Don't wait. Plenty of online calculators will help you get a handle on how much you need to save, when to take social security benefits, how to determine retirement expenses, and so on. Finance professionals can also craft a plan to fit your circumstances. As the old saying goes, "Failure to plan is planning to fail."
- Failure to save. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, take full advantage of the employer match, and sock away as much as you can, as early as you can. If you're self employed, set up a SIMPLE retirement plan. Regardless of your place of employment, saving for retirement should be a priority.
- Failure to consider inflation. No matter how much you save, expect inflation to eat away at the purchasing power of your money. At a 4% rate of inflation, expenses will double every 18 years. To cover that increase in expenses, your money needs to maintain its value. For most people, keeping up with inflation will require investing some portion of their nest egg in a diversified portfolio of stocks or stock mutual funds.
- Failure to consider life expectancy. These days, if you're a 65-year-old man, you can expect to live to age 82. A woman of the same age may live to age 85. These, of course, are averages. Depending on your health, family history, and other factors, you may live into your nineties or beyond. As a result, your nest egg (supplemented by pensions and social security benefits) may need to last 30 years or more. Take stock of these numbers and plan accordingly. Strive to ensure, as much as possible, that your retirement dreams come true.