Beware of These Retirement Pitfalls

Take care to avoid these unfortunate retirement situations.

retirement pitfalls
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By Dave Bernard

Eventually, everyone would like to find themselves at a point when they can safely and securely move into retirement. Whether or not they actually make the move, having the option to retire can offer genuine peace of mind. But that peace of mind may be short lived if the new retiree begins their second act with an unrealistic sense of security. Retirement has the potential to be a fulfilling and exciting adventure, but you need to be careful to avoid those gotchas along the way:

Underestimating how long you will live. Your Social Security monthly payments depend on when you began receiving benefits. If you live until the average life expectancy you will receive about the same amount of lifetime Social Security benefits no matter what age you first sign up, according to the Social Security Administration. But if you live beyond the average life expectancy the monthly amount you receive can become increasingly important. For each year beyond your full retirement age you delay receiving benefits your check will grow 8 percent up to age 70. For people who live a long time, that additional amount can make a huge difference in the lifestyle they can afford to live. It makes sense to consider the possibility you may live well into old age and adjust your Social Security claiming strategy accordingly.

Not paying enough attention to the little things. As we age we increasingly depend on assistance from others. Our initial struggle to maintain our independence needs to evolve into acceptance of the realities of aging.
Careful attention to details can make all the difference. It is important to take the right medications at the right time every day and schedule and maintain regular appointments for physicals, eye checkups and dental care. Also, pay attention to your surroundings and make adjustments to support a safer existence. Updating your home to fit your needs as you age could help keep you safe and independent for as long as possible.

Withdrawing from the world. For some seniors, challenges that come with aging can seem like too much to handle. Physical and mental changes often make it easier to just stay home and avoid exposure to an increasingly difficult world. But such a course of action can lead to loneliness and actually intensify the challenges they wish to avoid. By avoiding contact and the stimulation that comes from interacting with others, our reflexes and mental acuity can dull. The television is a sad replacement for real dialog with friends and family. And sitting all the time will be bad for your physical health as well. It may not always be easy, but making the effort to get out and about can help your health and attitude in many positive ways.

Becoming a victim. Scammers and criminals of all sorts see the growing senior population as a group ripe for the picking. Elaborate scams appeal to the caring nature of the elderly with no concern for the damaged lives left in their wake. My mom recently received a call from someone claiming to be her grandson stuck in Mexico with a friend, turning to grandma to save the day. My mom was not fooled, and when she offered to have the scammer talk with her husband they hung up. These days it helps to be suspicious. Don't allow yourself to become an easy victim.

Believing you are too old to enjoy life. Obviously what you are capable of doing at 70 is different than what you did at 30. But just because you can't do everything you used to doesn't mean you are too old to realize a meaningful and exciting existence. When you feel too old, take a moment and consider those who have gone before you. Frank Lloyd Wright completed his design of the Guggenheim Museum at age 91, and Michelangelo was hard at work on St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican at 88. Sure the years add up, but when are you really too old to enjoy life? Don't give up on the retirement life you want.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be." Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

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Hey Betty, the republicans said the same thing about medicare and social security when they first came in. So you are preaching what the big money machine of the GOP wants. You must learn to think for yourself. Millions of Americans needed this health care.

March 10 2014 at 4:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Social security is your private account. The more you make the larger your monthly check will be. Now if you are on social security and medicare thank a democrat.

March 10 2014 at 4:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to toosmart4u's comment


March 10 2014 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lefthddriver are right on the money....

March 09 2014 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Recently retired at age 66...didn't wait for another 8 percent increase...Can someone explain to me how waiting another year for an 8 percent more in my monthly check is a good deal. I would have to give up my monthly ss check of 1897.oo x 12= 22764.00 for the 8% (151.76)increase. divide 22764 by 151.76 =150 months divided by 12 =12.5 years to break even.....66 +12.5 years makes me 79.5 yrs matter how you figure are going to die sometime...uncle sam wins regardless...if you have a good explanation. Please tell me..thanks.

March 09 2014 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nobody talks about the money you give up taking SS payments at 70 instead of 62 or 65. Even if you collect ss at 62 you get a full 75% of benefits. That's a lot of money to give up to uncle sam.What is the breakeven point nobody talks about? 13 years. Come on. Take ss at 62 unless you are working. Retire at 65 unless you love your work more than $. Humans are not immortal. We will all die and our bodies deteriorate after 70. The true golden years are 60-70 years, folks. Don't believe me? Take a trip to the nursing home. Forget about the 8%. Uncle sam loves it.

March 08 2014 at 8:17 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I keep seeing ads on the T.V that say you need a million dollars to retire. Well the fact is over 60% of americans cannot even raise a thousand dollars in an emergency.
You will make do with what you have ,just like you always have.

March 08 2014 at 8:09 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to spike's comment

Well said....that million dollar estimate is annoying to say the least.

March 09 2014 at 1:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
worried man

you do need 1 million

March 09 2014 at 11:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Watch out for Obamacare. Oh yeah, there's nothing you can do about that.

March 08 2014 at 7:51 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment

I have no need of Obama care, but over four million americans that do are very grateful for it.

March 08 2014 at 8:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to spike's comment

Well said....

March 09 2014 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

here are the real facts. You need a good pension or 401K, SS and a million dollars plus. According to all the statistics on the news hardly anyone is near this. This what to expect soon. Millions upon millions of retirees will be in poverty with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Retirement will be a nightmare for way too many people.

March 08 2014 at 4:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SPQR's comment

Those statistics are gathered by twits that live high on the hog and think everyone else should as well. When folk come to the realization that they do not need half the thinks/junk being marketed at overinflated prices the world will be better for it....just take a look at garages filled to the max with unneeded/unused items and the mountains of items donated to Goodwill and other charities. The majority of us live way above our means and spend, spend, spend on things that are simply not needed. We need decent, safe affordable housing, food on the table and clothes on our backs. There is nothing wrong with acquiring some of the wants/luxuries but we humans do indeed go way overboard with purchasing all that "stuff" crammed into every nook and cranny in stores around the globe.

March 09 2014 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Well, let's see. Laid off from job at age 52, no one will hire somebody that age. Lost house to foreclosure in real estate meltdown, IRA is gone, had to live off of it for awhile. Can't collect SS for another five years. Now just waiting to inherit, if I'm lucky. Retirement? Yeah, right.

March 08 2014 at 4:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Defined Pension plans were offered by 40% of companies up until 1980, between 1980 - 2006 that figure dropped to 15%, why, Reagan. When Reagan took the federal workforce off a fixed Pension, and put them into Social Security and 401k plans, industry took note, and soon began eliminating fixed Pensions. This was the beginning of the end for low to middle income workers being able to retire in comfort.

March 08 2014 at 9:57 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sam54ct's comment

Federal pensions are among the best

March 08 2014 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Federal workforce plan :
The FERS annuity, a defined benefit plan,
Mandatory participation in Social Security (most CSRS employees are not part of Social Security and do not pay taxes into the system, nor are they eligible for benefits unless they qualify under private sector employment or by being rehired and covered as CSRS (with a Social Security) Offset), and
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a defined contribution plan which operates like a 401(k).

March 08 2014 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply