5 Ways to Wreck Your Retirement

Avoid these common retirement pitfalls.

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Ah, retirement. It can be filled with unlimited rounds of golf, endless hours in the hammock, or years of jet-setting around the globe. Whatever your vision is for these longed-for years of leisure, don’t let these five things wreck your retirement.

Not enough money. Or should I say lack of it? Clearly if you do not have enough money for a comfortable retirement it will be, well, uncomfortable. If only someone would write a book or an article on how much to save for retirement. That would really be helpful. Oh, there are thousands of books, articles, and websites on the subject? Then I won’t go into that here, except to say this takes years of planning and discipline.

[See How to Set a Retirement Savings Goal.]

Poor health. Most people want an active retirement. You want to keep up with your grandchildren and enjoy your golden years without the use of one of those motorized scooters. Just like the money issue, you can’t wait until you’re retired to start thinking about this one. You need to invest in your health while you’re still healthy. Yes, when you retire you will have more time to exercise. But if you haven’t been doing it for the last 40 years, you have lost precious compounding time. Exercise, eat right, quit smoking, get enough sleep, and work on managing stress—long before you retire.

Loneliness. Retirees with an active social network are not only happier, they are healthier. When you are working, your job provides a built in social network. Many retirees find they miss the social benefits of the working environment, especially if their friends are still working or they have moved far away from family. You may need to make some effort to expand your social circle by joining a bridge club, starting a book club, or volunteering with people who share your passions.

[See 10 Reasons Retirement Makes You Feel Younger.]

Sudden moves. It may be tempting to pack up and move to the other side of the world when you retire, but maybe just visit first. While being three thousand miles away from that annoying son-in-law might be appealing, your grandkids also live there. Remember to consider your grandchildren before handing over the down payment on that remote island cottage.

Boredom. Over the years, life gets busy. Between work, raising kids, and American Idol episodes, there’s not a lot of time left to develop hobbies and new interests. When the work part comes to a screeching halt, often accompanied by the empty nest, you may not have anything to fill the void. Enter boredom. This may be the biggest retirement risk of all —even greater than running out of money. Most people have spent their entire career preparing for the financial aspects of retirement. While we may know down to the penny how much we can spend in retirement, we rarely know how we will spend all that time.

[See 6 Reasons to Retire Overseas.]

A comfortable retirement requires more than just money. Be sure to consider the life you long for while you’re socking away all that money. Decide exactly what it is you’re saving for: an enjoyable life after work.

Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.