Hoping to retire some day? Avoid these 3 mistakes

Great tips from the team at MagnifyMoney!

Many consider retirement to be the ultimate financial goal, the point at which you could make employment optional. Though most people would love to reach this goal, there are some common mistakes you may be making that will prevent you from getting to retirement and staying there comfortably.

There have been dozens of articles detailing the biggest mistakes that most people make, which are delaying their retirement savings or not saving at all. Instead, we’re going to take a look at some of the mistakes that are often overlooked.

They underestimate their future health care costs

Many of your expenses will change when you retire, and depending on your age, one of the most drastic changes will be your healthcare costs. When it comes to estimating what it will cost to cover health care expenses, the average American has no clue. A 2011 Sun Life Financial survey found 92% of working Americans have no idea what their health care costs will be in retirement or vastly underestimate them. The survey goes on to say “74% lack specific plans to cover retirement healthcare costs.”

This is likely due to common misconceptions about Medicare, how it works, and how much it actually covers. Recent debates and proposals on Capitol Hill don’t make these conversations any easier either. Currently, however, medical expenses during retirement are estimated to cost around $245,000, according to Fidelity.


Your retirement planning should also include funding long-term care. “More than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives,” according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The average cost of a nursing home could run well above $70,000 per year and in large metro areas more than $100,000 per year.

You will want to mitigate these risks as much as you can by including the cost of health care in your retirement planning and obtaining some level of long-term care insurance. Without it, you could be risking a large portion of your assets that you’ve worked decades to build, or reduce the amount of wealth you meant to pass down to your family.

They are too fiscally conservative

How you manage risk will ultimately determine how successful your retirement plan will be. Take on too much risk and you could lose your life savings to a market correction. During the last six months of 2008 U.S. investors lost about $2.4 trillion, and though most people started to recover beginning in 2009, those closest to retirement, people ages 51 to 59, had a much slower route to recovery.

On the other side of the spectrum, however, not taking on enough risk can leave you without enough money to retire. USA Today reported that 60% of Americans are too conservative with their investment choices.

Target Date Funds are a good, passive way to ensure you’re taking on the correct amount of risk because they are automatically tailored to your retirement date. Additionally, taking a risk-tolerance questionnaire is another good way to measure the amount of risk you’re taking with your retirement assets.

They blow their savings as soon as they retire

Reaching retirement is synonymous with financial freedom; however, this does not mean that you can spend freely without paying attention to your budget or your debt. Many soon-to-be retirees have plans to remodel their home, buy new cars, or both. While you certainly may have earned those rewards for being a diligent saver, they may not be the best ideas unless they were already built into your plan.

To avoid this mistake you’ll want to be careful of how you choose to reward yourself and to do so in moderation. You’ll certainly want to avoid taking on any huge debts. When you’re creating your retirement budget make sure you leave room for any miscellaneous purchases and any postemployment habits that you may acquire. The key is finding the right balance of responsible rewards while also keeping your retirement intact. 

MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.

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