9 Retirement Investing Mistakes to Avoid: Approaching retirement requires a shift in investing strategies and money management compared to accumulation years. Mistakes in the transition to generating retirement income from your portfolio can have disastrous consequences. Awareness of common errors helps avoid sabotaging the retirement security you have worked so hard for.
9 Retirement Investing Mistakes to Avoid
From excessive conservatism to ignoring tax planning, retirees must navigate new complexities. It takes diligence and careful decision-making to solidify finances for 20 or 30 years of retirement. Stay away from these mistakes as you structure your assets and income streams.
1. Allocating Too Conservatively
With retirement on the horizon, shifting most of your portfolio to ultra-safe assets like bonds and cash is tempting. However, retirement can last decades. Too little exposure to stocks and growth investments early in retirement jeopardizes long-term returns.
Financial advisors suggest, at most, a 10% reduction in equities exposure leading into retirement. Avoid reacting emotionally and remain disciplined about maintaining adequate growth holdings for the long run.
2. Withdrawing Too Much Early On
New retirees often travel frequently, purchase second homes, and indulge in long-awaited expenditures, with excitement running high, withdrawing well above sustainable levels risks prematurely draining your portfolio.
Adhering to the 4% rule or using a variable withdrawal strategy preserves capital. Consider staged segmented “buckets” for short-term and long-term needs. Withdraw prudently in the early years to avoid depletion.
3. Ignoring Tax Optimization
Maximizing tax-advantaged retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs provides significant savings once in the distribution phase. Failing to utilize their deferred and capital gains treatment squanders opportunities.
Tax loss harvesting, donating securities strategically, and optimizing withdrawals across accounts lowers liability. Work closely with a financial advisor to implement thoughtful tax management.
4. Carrying High-Interest Debt
Entering retirement with a significant credit card, auto loan, or other high-interest debt weighs down cash flow for years. Make paying off debt an urgent priority well before retiring.
Otherwise, those burdensome interest payments eat away at limited retirement income. Live below your means in your final working years to eliminate debts.
5. Not Having a Long-Term Care Plan
With median annual nursing home costs over $90,000, lacking long-term care insurance risks driving through retirement savings quickly in the event care is needed. Unfortunately, this is an expected outcome.
Doing thorough research into policy options years before retiring allows one to make an informed LTC insurance decision proactively. Too many wait until health declines and premiums soar.
6. Forgetting Health Savings Accounts
HSAs provide a triple tax advantage for healthcare expenses if used strategically. Unlike IRAs, HSA funds can be invested and withdrawn tax-free in retirement for medical costs.
To benefit fully, contribute consistently to HSAs during final working years when eligible. Let the balance grow over time for tax-free healthcare funding.
7. Missing Rebalancing Opportunities
Revisiting your asset allocation annually and rebalancing to target levels curtails risk and stabilizes returns. Failing to rebalance lets portfolio drift continue unchecked.
Selling appreciated assets and realigning protects against overconcentration as holdings change value. Rebalancing is fast and easy with low-cost, broad funds.
8. Focusing Too Much on Fees
Selecting the cheapest investment options can backfire by causing suboptimal asset allocation or concentration risks. Weigh costs against quality, diversification, and fit.
Low-fee stock index funds and ETFs can play a significant role, but avoid viewing fees as the singular factor. Assess total value, not just price tag.
9. Not Seeking Professional Help When Needed
Some investors may not need ongoing guidance entering retirement, but several scenarios like pension decisions, moving 401(k)s, Social Security claiming, and taxes warrant expert consultation to avoid irreversible mistakes.
Armed with your complete financial picture, an hour with a credentialed financial advisor can provide tremendous value on complex topics. Don’t leave money on the table out of pride.
With thoughtful preparation and avoiding knee-jerk reactions, retirement investors can structure their finances for continued success.
When prudent, patience, diligence, tax awareness, and expert guidance keep retirement fulfillment on track and within budget for the long run. Stay vigilant and learn as you transition to this crucial new life phase.