Top 10 things guaranteed to make a mess of your retirement

Jan 24, 2012, 8:25 a.m.

Retirement is supposed to be an end to worry, an end to stress and an end to responsibility. However, with poor planning it may be none of these things. For some people, retirement is one of the most stressful and difficult challenges they'll ever face. Proper retirement planning should help you to avoid these ten common mistakes.

Living too Long

Well, the problem isn't living too long but failing to plan for a long and healthy life. It's a mixed blessing that your golden years might last decades longer than you think. It's a good idea to plan for recurring income rather than cashing out one big sum in your senior years.

Forgetting Your Goals While Investing

When investing, make sure to keep your goals clear in mind. If you're retiring in three years, you clearly don't want to invest in a long-term option. Then again, if you're not going to retire for another decade, you don't need to sacrifice greater returns for faster returns, either.

Neglecting Your Social Life

The greatest thing about retirement is having time to be with your friends and loved ones. Time that you didn't always have while working. If you neglect this, a billion dollar retirement account will be little consolation. True happiness comes from financial security and good company much more than financial wealth and loneliness.

Tapping into Social Security Benefits too Early

A number of factors weigh into your social security benefits including age and longevity of benefits. As long as you can comfortably wait is the right approach to getting the most out of social security.


Health insurance, home insurance, investment insurance, it may seem like an extra expense right now, but over time it may save you tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Don't neglect insurance as part of your retirement strategy.

Ignoring Fees

Fees may only amount to one or two percent or five dollars here and there for a big withdrawal or deposit, but it can add up. Account for fees on all of your accounts. You may be surprised how much you're spending. By planning around fees, you can save more over time as well.

Settling in Forever

Your home is your home, not your tomb. When buying a retirement home, take some time to consider resale value. You may grow bored of living in the same place for five years when you're not working, so think of your home as an investment, as well.

Neglecting Research

When you go into retirement investing, think of it like you're starting a new business. This is one of the most important retirement planning tips: Review, research and read up on everything you invest in and everything you plan to do in retirement. You don't want to invest in industries or fields you don't understand.

Failing to Strategize

If you have a five figure stock that flops, this can sink you if you're not strategizing. When building a portfolio, you need to strategize so that one stock covers the other. When you strategize, you can afford a loss here and there. When you don't, you can't.

Getting Emotional

Never get emotional or impulsive about your investments or you're likely to be jumping in and out of stocks for all the wrong reasons. Invest your money and let it be, don't succumb to panic after a poor fourth quarter or pump all your money into any industry that sees a tiny boom.

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