Living in a villa in rural Italy. Enjoying the beaches of Florida. Skydiving in the Swiss Alps. Absorbing the culture of major metropolises around the world. No matter what your dream for retirement is, it is never too early to start planning. Achieving a well-planned, financially sound retirement is about making the right choices along the way. Below are five common mistakes that can put your retirement goals at risk.
1. Not Saving Early or Often Enough
While you may think there is plenty of time between your current life stage and retirement, it’s never too early to start saving. The longer you wait to start, the more money you will have to contribute per year to make up for time lost. Not only will you save more the earlier you begin, but it’s important to establish the financial habit to continue throughout their career.
2. Underestimating Your Needs & Life Expectancy
When planning for your retirement, it is important to be honest with yourself in deciding the lifestyle you want to have. Setting tangible goals and generously estimating your food, shelter, medical and other needs will ensure you will have the adequate funds for the future you want. This includes thinking about both what you will need and want, as well as for how long you will likely want and need it. It’s a good idea to consider average life expectancy and family history when determining these numbers. The last thing you need is to get into debt in retirement because you didn't plan correctly.
3. Ignoring Tax Breaks
The types of accounts used for investing from 401(k)s to IRAs affect how your funds will grow. These traditional plans enable your tax-deferred earnings to compound and often provide an immediate tax break on income each year you contribute. It is also advantageous to seek employers that will match your contributions; this is like achieving your goals with free money or extra salary.
4. Borrowing Against Your Funds
While putting as much money as you can into your retirement fund is a great idea, this is separate from your emergency fund. Borrowing against your retirement or taking money out of your account earlier than planned can mean you have to pay taxes on the money, suffer an early withdrawal penalty and lose out on potential growth. Even if you plan to repay the money to your retirement account, the best policy is to keep your hands off the retirement funds until you are actually retired.
5. Investing Aimlessly or Foolishly
It is important to pay attention to your retirement plans and investment options. Being too aggressive or not adequately diversified can hurt your retirement funds, while being overly conservative can mean missing out on potential growth.
It’s a good idea to set goals, pay attention and save as early and often as possible to make your retirement dreams come true.
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