Bad decisions can could sink your retirement faster than a paper boat in a hurricane.
Here are eight retirement planning blunders to watch out for so you can be sure your golden years aren’t spent in the poorhouse.
#1 Failing to create or update estate planning documents
Circumstances and laws change, so your estate planning paperwork needs to change along with them. Whether it’s a new grandchild, a death, a divorce, or a new tax law … Life changes mean reviewing your paperwork and keeping everything up to date.
#2 Not creating a retirement budget
You’re on a fixed income in retirement, so you’ll have to budget for things like medical bills not covered by Medicare; household help if you can no longer do yard work or deep cleaning; food for specialized diets and home modifications, like grab-bars in the bathroom or a wheelchair ramp out front.
#3 Going into debt
According to an Experian study, the average baby boomer owed $97,290 in 2020. That included mortgages and student loans, along with consumer debt. If at all possible, you should plan to go into retirement with no debt. If you have substantial debt, consider credit counseling.
#4 Spending fixed income on adult children
Your adult kids may need to be bailed out from time to time, but being too generous may jeopardize your own long-term comfort and security.
#5 Withdrawing too much money
If you claimed Social Security before your full retirement age, you’ll have permanently reduced benefits. Conventional wisdom says to take no more than 4% out of your accounts each year. Out-of-control spending may cause you to loot your retirement funds faster than you should.
#6 Becoming sedentary
A lack of exercise can lead to plenty of health issues, while staying active in retirement improves energy, physical strength, balance and sleep. It can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve cognitive function and manage or even prevent certain diseases. These improvements could make it possible to live independently for longer, or maybe for the rest of your life.
#7 Letting yourself become isolated
Extended periods of isolation can result in serious physical and mental health issues, according to the National Institute on Aging, such as depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, obesity, weakened immune function and heart disease. Get out there and do things like volunteering, auditing classes at a college or university, adopting a pet (if you’re physically able), joining an exercise class, or revisiting an old hobby or taking up a new one.
#8 Being too generous
Rather than messing up your own finances, make “charitable giving” part of your budget, perhaps as a specific percentage, like a 10% church tithe. When you’ve reached that amount, stop. Before you decide to give to a cause, check it out through websites like GuideStar or Charity Navigator to see what amount actually goes toward helping others.