Many of us are looking forward to traveling the world or taking it easy at home in retirement. But a successful retirement requires early planning. You can’t just expect everything to turn out all right if you aren’t taking active measures to improve your financial situation. You also need to avoid these five pitfalls that could ruin your retirement:
1. Borrowing from your retirement account. If you take money out of your retirement account, there will obviously be less for you to use later. You will have to pay income tax and, if younger than age 59½, an early withdrawal penalty. Many retirement account loans also come with fees.
You also pay in lost opportunity. Even if you repay the money, you can’t replace the money you would have made if you hadn’t taken it out. When your money isn’t in your retirement account, it can’t work for you.
2. Building up credit card debt. Few things are as devastating to your finances as credit card debt. Building up credit card debt can result in having more expenses down the road. You are paying interest into someone else’s pocket, rather than using the money to build your own wealth. Consider how you are spending your money, and how building up credit card debt might be costing you in the future.
3. Using the equity in your home. For many people, a home is their biggest asset. Building up equity in your home can provide for your future. You can sell your home for a large amount of capital just before retirement, or you can tap into that equity during retirement to use as a source of income. Even if you don’t use the equity in your home to cover costs related to retirement, just having your home paid off can provide peace of mind. It’s one less expense to worry about, and you will have a place to live. Instead of using the equity in your home now, consider building it up so you have more options later.
4. Neglecting your health. It’s hard to enjoy retirement when you are in poor health. You can increase your chances of being healthy enough to enjoy retirement by making better health choices now. While you don’t have to completely shun treats, an overall healthy diet, reasonable exercise, and fulfilling relationships can contribute to your general health. If you are healthy, your costs will be lower and you will be able to enjoy life more. Make sure to take good care of yourself by staying fit and healthy.
5. Having no idea what you want to do. Knowing what you want to do in retirement is important. Without this knowledge, it is hard to make a realistic plan for a successful retirement. Think about what you want to accomplish during your retirement, whether it’s volunteer work, travel, a new hobby, or spending time with family. Decide what you want to do, and then develop a plan to make it happen.