7 retirement mistakes people make

Pensive mood. Thoughtful attractive senior man gazing through window while crossing hands and staying

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The best retirements are those that are intentional—with enough flexibility to change when needed. Unfortunately, the evidence shows that too many take a hit-and-miss approach that relies on hope and luck to succeed.

It’s tragic when individuals get their retirement wrong because this could be the most satisfying time of their life. Here are 7 common mistakes people make.

1. Think that retirement is only about money

For a comfortable retirement, money is important—no question. But life is more than money. To be blunt, it’s a sad accomplishment if you get several million dollars together for retirement, but it costs you your health.

Spending your last 10 years in a comfortable hospital-style bed with personal 24-hour care isn’t a great trade-off. A whole-of-life approach is needed at every stage of life for balance and wellness. It shouldn’t be left to start at retirement.

2. Use a hit-and-giggle approach to retirement finances

A hit-and-giggle approach? That’s the opposite of point 1—not taking it seriously. There are people who say, ‘Whatever happens, we’ll survive. I’m not going to worry about my finances for retirement. Besides, I’ll never have enough.’

There won’t be a lot of giggle if you’re struggling financially in retirement and finally recognise what you could have done. How much better it could have been if you took it seriously.

Retirees need to be serious about their retirement finances. Being serious also means, for most, getting professional help.

3. Not having a serious retirement plan

Speaking of serious, what are you planning to do in retirement? Seriously. The first six months are easy. They usually look something like: the holiday; the renovations; cleaning up the yard; setting up the shed; and a few other things.

What then? What about the following six months after that? Do you have a plan that you feel would create a satisfying life for the first five years?

I’ve met several people who retired, found it boring and went back to work. Better planning could have changed that.

4. Shifting without careful thought

There can be little worse than shifting to a place where you think you can create your retirement dream only to find you hate it six months later. There’s little comfort in discovering that you’re not the first to do that.

The best way to counter this is to, first, do your homework. Does the area have what you want and need in your retirement. That includes such things as sporting facilities, libraries, theatres and so on—create your own list.

Is there good medical care nearby. This could be helpful as you age.

The best way to check out a potential retirement area is to test drive it first. That means going to live there for three months or more—and during the offseason if it’s a popular holiday destination.

5. Waiting until retirement to get life balance right

It’s too easy to focus so much on retirement finances that your health suffers—see the first point. At every stage of life, there’s meant to be a whole-of-life approach.

A whole-of-life approach is one that includes caring for the physical, mental, social and spiritual (however you understand it) aspects of life. Not only does this approach lead to a full life, it helps us to reach our full potential.

6. Couples not talking about retirement

A good relationship is built on communication and discussion. It’s important that couples talk about their retirement plans and dreams. There’s evidence that most couples don’t retire together, but the decision will impact on the partner.

There’s always give and take in a relationship. But you can’t negotiate if you don’t know what each other is thinking or planning. Retirement for couples is meant to be a joint venture.

Now’s the time to start talking. To start dreaming together.

7. Letting social connections fall away

Some social networks will naturally fall away when you retire. Work relationships for a start. If you move at retirement your local friendship group will be lost.

But some retirees also self-isolate because there’s no longer the need to socialise. In extreme cases, some retirees and couples simply avoid outside connections. That’s unhealthy.

There are several studies that show that social connections improve physical and psychological wellbeing—and give you a longer life. One study even found that lack of social connections was a worse health risk than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Staying connected is important.

The best retirements are intentional, with allowances for change when needed. With thought and planning, retirement can be the best time of life.

Don’t leave it to chance.

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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Category: Planning

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