How to Ruin Your Retirement in 3 Steps

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retirement problemsBy Jeff Rose


Most of us say that we want a successful retirement. Unfortunately, too many of us don't think things through, and could end up unprepared for retirement. It's remarkably easy to wreck your retirement years. Here are three steps that are likely to ruin your retirement:

1. Forgo a plan. Planning often seems overrated. After all, a plan can be restricting. Unfortunately, without a plan, there is nothing to help you on your path to retirement. Without a plan, it's too easy to forget about the end game and just focus on what's happening today. If you want a successful retirement you need to look ahead.

A retirement plan forces you to look beyond what you think you want right now. Instead, you need to look at where you want to be, relative to where you are right now. Your retirement plan lays out the steps you need to take to get from here to there and possibly even retire early. Without proper planning, you are likely to find yourself without enough to retire, and in danger of living longer than your money.

Create a realistic retirement plan that allows you to save up for the retirement you want, and that encourages you to start taking the steps that lead to a successful retirement later. If you don't have a road map to a better retirement, you may not ever get there.

2. Rack up debt. One of the biggest retirement killers is debt. When you have debt obligations, your money isn't your own. Instead of using your money to build wealth, you are paying interest straight into someone else's pocket. During retirement, you want fewer drains on your money. Your retirement income is more fixed. If a large portion of that income is going toward paying interest debt, you could end up without enough to pay your retirement costs.

Instead of getting into debt now, live within your means. Make a plan to pay off debt before you retire, including mortgage debt if possible. The fewer obligations you have in retirement, the better off you'll be. Plus, living within your means now is good practice for creating habits that will enable you to avoid outliving your money during retirement.

Learn to live without debt, and your retirement will be more successful in the long run. And you'll be happier knowing that more of your money is being used to help you maintain the retirement lifestyle that you actually want.

3. Neglect your health. The cost of health care continues to rise, and poor health can really ruin your retirement. Not only is poor health expensive, but it also seriously reduces your ability to enjoy yourself in retirement.

Take care of yourself now. While there is no complete guarantee that you won't get sick, or end up with a chronic illness, you can still improve your chances of living with excellent health in retirement. Exercise, eat healthier including brain boosting superfoods, and get the right amount of sleep. Remember to include time for relaxation in your routine.

If you stay active, body and mind, you can improve the odds that you will need fewer medical services. Good health can help you reduce your overall costs in retirement, as well as enjoy yourself better. It's hard to enjoy the money you have saved for retirement if your body is in such bad shape that you can't do anything.

Consider your current situation, and think about what you want for the future. Create a plan to pay off debt and save your money. And, while you're at it, don't forget to take care of yourself. Keep your body healthy and your mind sharp, so you'll be better able to enjoy retirement for many years.

Jeff Rose is a certified financial planner and U.S. combat veteran. He blogs at Good Financial Cents and Soldier of Finance.

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31 Comments

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randy221154

It's fools like you that don't remember what it was like in 2008 and the way the country headed because of Bush. Your little money would have been nothing if the President wasn't in office.

November 28 2014 at 10:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
wbearl

One thing you can't plan for is the President of the United States. I retired in 2008. My house and cars were paid for, I had a decent savings and a good income. It didn't take long after Obama became President and things started going down hill. Gas went up, groceries went up, insurance went up, and of course taxes went up. What hasn't gone up is my retirement income.

November 28 2014 at 8:04 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to wbearl's comment
Greetings

You got that right.
This president is a real nightmare and has been awful for retirees and the middle class.
We can't have this guy leave soon enough.
Thank God the senate and house is repub to hopefully put the breaks on this guy.

November 28 2014 at 9:15 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
geldonski

Sorry to inform you Einstein, but the downturn in the economy happened on the watch of George Bush. As is usually the case, the economy goes into the crapper with a Republican administration. The last two big recessions happened during the terms of Bush and The Great Senile Orator Ronald Reagan. The Republicans rob from the poor and give to the rich. If they are not starting wars, they come up with smoke and mirrors policies like trickle down economics.

November 28 2014 at 11:13 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
smokin57joe

Be debt free, have cash flow and spend what you got and be happy. Or save all your $$$$$ and look at it and worry if it will be there or not. After saving your $$$$$ sit back and die and someone else will use it.

November 28 2014 at 5:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to smokin57joe's comment
jameshadams

It's evident you're "SMOKING" alright!!!

November 28 2014 at 10:48 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
endlessdrip

Your retirement can go up in smoke with just one setback, Cancer. Everything you may have can be burned up if you can't work for 3 years. Even with insurance, the deductibles will hurt you.
Then there's all the aftercare. The 3-6 month check-ups complete with CAT scans. Or the medications which can cost hundreds of dollars a month. Each medication has a $45.00 deductible for a 30 day supply. Then there's Cable, a car payment all by itself. Putting food on the table, rent, gas for the car, the car payment plus insurance, on and on it goes. The total amount for 2 people per month hits $3800.00. Too much to have a savings account. So you look to cut back. Bye Bye cable? Wife goes nuts. No more eating out. Have to say no to some of the medications. Drive as little as possible. Cut anywhere you can but still your savings dwindles. How long can any of us survive in this economy? There will be a crash, and it will be devastating to those without a cushion.

November 28 2014 at 5:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeraso Ramos

Her clothing in the cover pic ! ,,,,really ???

November 28 2014 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jameshadams

You that retire counting on your company paid health insurance that you worked for 30+ years, DONT !!! AT&T jerkied our retirement health benifits allowing 4200.00 per year total for premiums ect. which doesn't cover just the healthcare let a lone drugs. Our poor CEO couldn' t make it on a mear 21 million a year in salary and perks even tho they had a record year in profits!!!

November 28 2014 at 4:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jameshadams's comment
Greetings

I also worked for the company you speak of, and my premiums started going up after the enactment of obamacare, and am sorry to say I do not think this nightmare is over for what is going to happen to retirees health care.
This president has been bad for retirees and great for illegal immigrants, that are taking our kids jobs.

November 28 2014 at 9:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
fred

Number 4: Stay away from casinos...........

November 28 2014 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
epik373

Don't worry about medical bills! Just go to the ER and don't pay. Medical and insurance costs are ridiculous.

November 28 2014 at 2:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to epik373's comment
TWBCPA

Nothing like having someone else pick up your tab. Entitlements will only get you so far.

November 28 2014 at 4:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
lwoody

This article fails to mention another possible financial drain during retirement; that being continual support and "bailouts" of adult children. My "softie" wife allows her daughter to live in our rental home, on which we pay the mortgage and HOA fees, without paying rent. She will not get off her fat butt and look for work! I guess she figures this is a way to use her inheritance before we kick the bucket!

November 28 2014 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lwoody's comment
Greetings

Your right.
I know what you speak of and things go up another 1/3, especially if they have a child.

November 28 2014 at 9:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

Living within your means is easier said than done! I haven't had a raise in 11 years, and at 63 my efforts to find a better job have been fruitless. I've cut off my dish tv, newspaper, home phone, garbage pickup (I dump it in the dumpster at work) and going out. I only still have internet because it's cheaper than going out. My wife and I haven't been to a movie, concert or nice restaurant in over four years! We make too much to get food stamps but not enough to buy groceries. We have spent what was left of my 401k on medical bills over the last four years since my deductible is so high. I don't think living within your means is an option for much of the working poor anymore.

November 28 2014 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply