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Eight Crucial Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Retirement

Category: Articles

By Craig Carlini, CPA, CFP®

For many, the thought of retirement is a long way off.  For some, it may be just around the corner.  No matter where you are in relationship to retirement, preparing for your retirement takes good planning and effort. Pursuing your retirement dream is difficult enough without making some common, and very avoidable, mistakes. Below are eight mistakes to avoid in your retirement planning.    

  1. No Strategy - The biggest mistake people make is having no strategy at all. Without a strategy, you may have no goals, leaving you no way of knowing how you’ll reach those goals or if you’ve even arrived. Developing a strategy may increase your potential for success, both before and after retirement.
  2. Frequent Trading - Chasing “hot” investments often leads to despair. Create an asset allocation strategy that is properly diversified to reflect your objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon.  Then, make adjustments based on changes in your personal situation, not because of market ups and downs or hot tips from others.
  3. Not Maximizing Tax-Deferred Savings - Workers have tax-advantaged ways to save for retirement. Not participating in your employer’s 401(k) may be a mistake, especially when you’re passing up free money in the form of employer-matching contributions.
  4. Prioritizing College Funding over Retirement - Your children’s college education is important, but it may not be the best idea to sacrifice your retirement for it. Remember, you can get loans and grants for college, but not for your retirement.
  5. Overlooking Health Care Costs – It doesn’t take much to pile up health care expenses.  Extended care may be an expense that can undermine your financial strategy for retirement if you don’t prepare for it.
  6. Not Adjusting Your Investment Approach Long Before Retirement - The last thing your retirement portfolio can afford is a sharp drop in stock prices and a sustained down market right at the moment you are ready to stop working. As you get closer to retirement, consider adjusting your asset allocation so you’re not selling stocks when prices are depressed.
  7. Retiring with Too Much Debt - If too much debt is bad when you’re making money (and it is), it can be deadly when you are living in retirement. Consider managing or reducing your debt level before you retire.
  8. It’s Not Only About Money – It stands to reason that a rewarding retirement requires good health; so maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, stay socially involved and remain intellectually active.  You’ll be happy you did.

Retirement planning doesn’t have to be complicated, nor do you have to do it on your own.  Consult a good financial planner or other financial services professional to develop your retirement goals and a strategy to reach them. 

Craig Carlini, CPA, CFP® is a shareholder in Rubino & Company, Chartered.  He has over 30 years of experience providing proactive tax and financial planning advice to clients across a variety of industries.  Craig works with his clients to find strategies to minimize tax exposure and increase wealth. 

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