Habits That Can Ruin Your Retirement

These behaviors could reduce your ability to retire well.


Senior woman looking worried
Getty Images
By David Ning

Many habits creep into our lives without us thinking too much about them. Once bad habits are formed, they often become extremely hard to change. Don't let these behaviors become a part of your lifestyle:

Treating retirement as the destination rather than the beginning of another part of life. It's easy for people who are still working to think of retirement as the end goal. But it's a mistake to concentrate only on reaching the finish line with no fuel to keep going afterward. Think about it: Your retired life could be even longer than your working career. Whether it's having assets that last, a strong social network to keep you company or a solid professional network just in case you need to go back to work, it's best to think of retirement as the start of something new instead of the grand finale.

Believing retirement will solve all your problems. You will have less stress from work and more free time, but retirement will bring about other challenges you didn't have while you were working. Don't postpone solutions until retirement. Fix your problems now so you don't carry them into your golden years. Burnt out from work? Find another job. No time to pursue your passion? Find time by becoming more productive at what you do. If you don't live a balanced life now, there's no guarantee your retirement will be any less miserable.

Anchoring a spending number against your previous salary. Many people estimate that they will spend 70 to 90 percent of their previous salary in retirement. But working from your paychecks is rarely the best way to develop an efficient budget. Build a retirement budget from the ground up instead. Start from $0 and add only expenses that are necessary or will significantly benefit you in retirement. For each cost, ask yourself: Will spending that extra cash really make your life better, or is the expense just there because it's always been there?

Avoiding investment risks. Reducing volatility and lowering risks in retirement makes a lot of sense. But not everybody can afford to just buy CDs for the rest of their retirement life and still maintain their desired lifestyle. Inflation will certainly erode any conservative investment strategy given enough time. In a way, conservative investors risk the most because they are almost guaranteeing lower investment performance. For many people, it's more important to embrace some retirement risk. The key is to understand the risk you are taking and to know how to react and deal with the situation when risks show up.

Stop being active. It's easy to become lazy in retirement because there's no longer the external push for you to move around every single day. But if you spend just a couple more hours sitting in front of the TV every day, you will see an erosion of muscle and energy. Stay active in retirement, because several decades of deterioration in front of the tube is going to rob you of enjoying the best years of your life.

Visit MoneyNing.com for more personal finance discussions.

More from U.S. News:

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Introduction to Retirement Funds

Target date funds help you maintain a long term portfolio.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Good retirement savings tips! It seems the biggest retirement mistakes always involve spending more than you have. Staying fit is obviously the most important as it will keep you healthy, happy, and limit healthcare costs. I would also look at limiting driving/car costs as they are a real killer in this country. You are probably spending way too much on auto insurance, first off...I would look to spend no more than $25 on car insurance (check 4AutoInsuranceQuote). Your gas/fuel costs are probably thru the roof too. For that, check out the GasBuddy app. It usually helps me fill up my gas tank for less than $20. The elderly aren't usually as high-tech as young people, so chances are they don't know about these services.

March 24 2014 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Reverse Mortgage Loans can be the solution to retirement; it is specifically designed to help homeowners over the age of 62.


November 30 2013 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been happily retired for 17 yrs.... I assure you, I spend a helluva lot more NOW than when I worked. In fact, I couldn't AFFORD to work again!! Contrary to most so-called "financial planners" who stress frugal budgets, I freely spend and enjoy what I have accumulated . If ya can't do this...then ya should NOT be retired!! VERY SIMPLE...do the math!!

September 30 2013 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Retirement is great. I have a wonderful Union pension that pays me $3,400/month plus nearly $2,000/month from Soc. Security. Along with my savings, my wife and I are doing all the things we planned for, hobbies, travel, helping the kids and grandkids. IRA\'s and 401K\'s are alright, but when the **** hit the fan in 2008, I lost 50% of my investments. I pulled out what was left and re-invested the money in undeveloped land. I was able to make up all my losses and make a 60% profit in just 3 years. Thank the Obama Adm.from taking us from the brink of depression. Whoever thought the stock market would come back from devestation to over 15,000? Nearly every economist thought it impossible, as did my financial advisors at Morgan/Stanley and ING. Even the most obstructionist congress in history could not stop a comeback. True, they slowed America substantially, but once we get rid of the a-hole House Republicans, then things will get back to normal.

September 30 2013 at 10:57 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

This administration says there is no inflation..They take out ENERGY, FOOD, CLOTHING, INSURANCE, HEALTHCARE, to make the numbers, duh duh!!!

September 30 2013 at 8:44 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

some sound advise thanks

September 29 2013 at 9:40 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

More people ******* of the system

September 29 2013 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Habits like eating.

September 28 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

One habit that can ruin ones retirement is to be brain dead as to how America is being and has been asset stripped of hope and material wealth. There is no retirement, only neo-feudal works or unemployment in the land of the free. These little Suzie Orman \'tips\' are callous and hideous. Want a decent retirement? Get rid of the capitalsit system or you will work till the grave.

September 28 2013 at 9:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to weilunion's comment

Commie much?

September 28 2013 at 9:55 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

This is still a great country................at least for now.

September 28 2013 at 5:00 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply