Here are common retiree regrets to avoid:
1. Moving on a whim: The lure of warmer climates has long been the siren call of many who are approaching retirement.
But test the waters before you make a permanent move. Too many folks have trudged off to what they thought was a dream destination only to find that it’s more akin to a nightmare.
The pace of life is too slow, everyone is a stranger and endless rounds of golf and walks on the beach grow tiresome.
Well before your retirement date, spend extended vacation time in your anointed destination to get a feel for the people and lifestyle.
2. Planning to work indefinitely: While more than half of today’s workers plan to continue working in retirement, just 1 in 5 Americans age 65 and older are employed, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. The actionable advice: Assume the worst, and save early and often.
3. Putting off saving for retirement: The single biggest financial regret of Americans surveyed by Bankrate was waiting too long to start saving for retirement.
Uncle Sam offers incentives to procrastinators. Once you turn 50, you can start making catch-up contributions to retirement accounts.
In 2020, older savers can contribute an extra $6,500 to a 401(k) on top of the standard $19,500. The catch-up amount for IRAs is $1,000 on top of the standard $6,000.
4. Claiming Social Security too early: You’re entitled to start taking retirement benefits at 62, but you might want to wait if you can afford it.
Most financial planners recommend holding off at least until your full retirement age — 67 for anyone born after 1959 — before tapping Social Security. Waiting until 70 can be even better.
Let’s say your full retirement age, the point at which you would receive 100% of your benefit amount, is 67. If you claim Social Security at 62, your monthly check will be reduced by 30% for the rest of your life.
5. Borrowing from your 401(k): Short of an emergency, tapping your 401(k) is a bad idea. Meghan Murphy, a vice president at Fidelity Investments, says you’re likely to reduce or suspend contributions while you repay the loan. That means you’re short-changing your retirement account for months or even years and sacrificing employer matches.
If you were to leave that employer before the loan is paid off, you’re obligated to pay it back in full within 60 to 90 days, says Murphy, or it becomes a taxable distribution. “And if you’re below age of 59 1/2, there’s now a 10% tax penalty associated with it.”
Keep in mind, too, that you’ll be paying the interest on that 401(k) loan with after-tax dollars — then paying taxes on those funds again when you withdraw the money in retirement.