|by Rodney Brooks, USA TODAY|
There are few things in life that let you do a do-over. Retirement is not one of them.
So, if retirees had an opportunity to do something differently to prepare for their golden years, which mistakes would they correct?
Financial advisers, asked about their clients' biggest regrets, had a bunch.
"Over the years I've certainly had to have difficult conversions with my own clients," says
"And, unless you have someone who can counsel you, they can get off track and live to regret in years down the line," he says.
Elwyn says he sees living too lavishly most often among business executives.
"I've worked with many successful business executives and business owners," says Elwyn. "Naturally, they envision a life in retirement that is just as lavish as when they were employed — business trips that include five-star hotels — whereas, in the real life of retirement, to fit their financial resources, retirement may require that they change their standards and change expectations. That adjustment can oftentimes be challenging for successful business people."
Elwyn says another key mistake people make is that they fail to make provisions for catastrophic events. "Whether it's a major medial issue or a debilitating illness, those that find they are not only financing their own retirement, but an adult child who has returned after a job loss aren't accounting for real life. Planning can't just be for best-case scenarios, and far too often it is."
"A well-constructed plan, whether with advice of a professional or not, needs to account for success, as well as challenges and failures," he says.
"The top one is, in general, the failure to have a financial plan," he says. "That includes a tax plan, an income plan and an investment plan. I left out an estate plan because you don't need an estate plan to retire. But I'm not saying you shouldn't have one."
The top tax regrets are failure to use a tax-forward plan, such as whether to defer
Other tax regrets:
• Premature IRA withdrawals.You want to take out the least amount possible, because IRAs are tax deferred. Defer taxes as long as possible, unless you need the money, Lang says.
• Botched Roth roll-out strategy. Biggest regret is when they failed to make a Roth conversion in a down year. When the market tumbles, you pay less in taxes to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth.
• Not getting out of Dodge. Not moving to a new city or state as a tax-reduction strategy. "You have to consider state taxes, local taxes, property taxes and even federal taxes," Lang says. "Clients say, 'I paid way too much in taxes on all these different levels.' A move to a tax-friendly jurisdiction for retirees would have been better."
1.I didn't save enough for retirement, and I spent more than I should have in my peak years."You should be saving significant amounts in those peak earning years as you get closer to retirement. People see their salaries go up, and they continue to spend instead of save. People have been living beyond their means, and their retirement expectations are not unrealistic."
2. I leveraged myself too much during my peak earnings year. "People go out and live on credit cards," says Kehoe. "It's a terrible way to spend and live." Those who use home equity to buy a car or take a vacation often regret it, he says. "People are losing focus in that they should be saving. They over-leverage themselves and borrow too much. I teach this to all my kids. If you can't afford to pay a card off at the end of the month, you can't afford to be buying on the credit card."
3. I retired too early.The two problems with retiring too early: "You have less (time) to save, and you have a longer period of retirement that you have to provide yourself for with an inflow of income," Kehoe says.
4. Why did I take that money out of my IRA or 401(k)? "To take money out of your plan at an early age is a real killer, because that dollar you take out in your 20s compounded over 30 or 40 years, could grow into a significant amount. It's in your plan; leave it there."
5. I thought
6. I was a picture of health in my middle age. "As we get older, the strain on our bodies increases," Kehoe says. "You can't keep up with things. It surprises a lot of people what the cost of good medical care can be. We do rely on government to take care of us, but there are outside expenses the government won't pay for. Consider long-term care insurance or some sort of supplementary insurance."
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