7 top retirement regrets from retirees

Senior man sitting at home feeling regret

Image: dolgachov/Bigstock.com

We can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes. At the very least, it can make us wary about making the same mistakes. In no particular order, here’s a list of seven regrets current retirees have had.

Regret 1: I wish I’d retired sooner—or later

The ‘later’ is often associated with the wish that they had worked for another year or so because it would have helped build up their funds.

The ‘sooner’ can also be associated with funds, with the retirees not realising that they could have retired earlier—and had the funds to do so. But it can also be associated with poor health and the regret that if they’d retired earlier they could have enjoyed more of the freedom retirement gives.

Regret 2: I wish I’d worked on my finances earlier

Retirees often mention this when asked to give advice to those not yet retired. The message is to be aware of and attempting to build up your retirement nest egg sooner. The fact is that the sooner we begin to put aside funds and develop plans to grow funds the more chance it has for growth.

Of course, that’s easier to say than do when you’re in the middle of supporting a family and/or building your business—or whatever else can be a financial cost in mid-life.

Regret 3: I wish I’d travelled earlier

This regret is usually associated with poor health for an individual or spouse meaning that they’re unable to travel. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with health. Even those with the healthiest lifestyles can be struck down.

Taking that overseas trip early means that it’s more likely to happen. And, thinking of travel, you may even want to take that active, adventure holiday before retirement—just in case.

Regret 4: I wish I’d retired with a plan 

Too many retirees treat retirement as you would a few weeks of long-service leave. A couple of good ideas of things to do, a bit of house repair, and maybe a trip. That’s about it.

Then what?

The ‘then what?’ is important. You could easily have another 25 years of life after retiring. What will you do? What’s your plan? You don’t have to over-plan, but it’s worth having some idea of what you want to achieve in retirement.

Regret 5: I wish I hadn’t overspent in the first years

Yes, there can be a lot you want to do in the early years of retirement, but you need to keep in mind that you have to have funds for the later years. Saying you will simply cut back later isn’t a plan.

Because your income is likely to be lower in retirement than it was when you were working, you need to be more careful. This is a time of life when budgeting and careful spending can be a huge asset. It will help your nest egg, which needs to last.

Regret 6: I wish I’d cared more about my health

It’s better to be retired in a tent with good health than sick and bedridden in a mansion. Health should be a top priority. Most of us can be healthier, can live healthier. And all it takes is determination and willpower.

That’s all? For most of us, the thought of exercise and the effort to get started is a real turn off. I’m inspired by a young guy in a wheelchair I often see boxing with one of the trainers at the local gym.

I think if he can, I can. And I suspect you can, too.

Regret 7: I wish I’d sought professional financial advice earlier

Yes, this is related to Regret 2, but this is about getting help to make sure you’re doing the best with your money as you prepare for retirement.

This is receiving advice about how to set up your finances and assets in a way that gets you the best returns and tax advantages before retirement, and how best to access your super and other funds for retirement.

Here are some of the first steps you may want to consider.

Knowing some of the regrets retirees have means we can work toward avoiding them for ourselves.

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

Category: Planning

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