Most personal finance experts agree that before you retire, you need to do careful planning — especially in the few years leading up to the day you call it quits. Leaving the workforce is a major milestone, so making sure that you’re fully prepared is essential.
The clever minds at CNBC recently shared some valuable tips on mistakes to avoid and smart decisions you can make early on, which will help stretch your money further, so you can retire well.
Being newly retired is definitely a reason to celebrate — and spend — some of the hard-earned money you’ve saved over the years.
Yet with Americans living longer, experts say you need to plan for a retirement that could last 30 years or more. Add in ever-rising medical costs, mostly stagnant Social Security checks and all of a sudden that pile of cash doesn’t look so big.
The issue of outliving your money is a real threat. To avoid having that happen don’t make these classic new-retiree mistakes.
Spending too much too soon
Making the transition from earning money to spending money when you first stop working is tricky. Especially if you’re healthy and eager to enjoy all that new free time.
“We get this all the time, where recently retired clients will do a trip to Europe or Asia, then spend four weeks in Caribbean, saying, ‘When we get older we’ll slow down,'” said Chris Schaefer, who leads MV Financial’s Retirement Plan Practice Group, Bethesda, Maryland. “They’re eating so much of principal in early retirement that they don’t have enough to last.”
Schaefer suggests that working with a financial planner to create a withdrawal strategy for your retirement accounts is key. He says a good starting point is taking out no more than 4 percent of your total nest egg a year.
Overspending on the house
Wanting to be debt free is an admirable goal and one that works for many retirees. However if you haven’t paid off the mortgage yet, rushing to do so may not be your best move.
As long as you have the cash flow to comfortably make the payments, Schaefer says don’t sacrifice your retirement savings by using a big chunk to pay it down. Instead keep it invested where it should continue to grow.
Plus having a mortgage offers tax benefits you can still claim as a retiree.
Overspending on the kids
Once you retire it’s time to let the 35-year-olds take care of themselves.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen this more and more with millennials not able to get out on their own,” Schaefer said.
So, if you’re paying rent for your adult children, or their cellphone bill, car payments or other recurring costs, it’s time to sit down with them and tell them it’s over.
Making smart decisions early on will help stretch your money further so you can retire well.
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About the article author, Sharon Epperson
As CNBC’s senior personal finance correspondent, Sharon Epperson covers the many facets of how people manage, grow and protect their money. Her expertise includes saving and investing for retirement, paying for college, managing mortgage, student loan, credit card and other debt, and building a financial legacy through estate planning.
Epperson was named one of the “Best Personal Finance Experts of 2014.” In addition to reporting for CNBC and CNBC Digital, she hosts the weekly original CNBC Digital video program, “Retire Well“. She also appears regularly on the syndicated program On the Money and Public Television’s Nightly Business Report. Both shows are produced by CNBC. Epperson is also a regular contributor on NBC’s Today, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and NBC affiliates nationwide.
Her book, The Big Payoff: 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of Their Money-and Live Richly Ever After, was a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Awards, honoring works that have “changed the lives of millions.” She also was a contributing writer for The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster.
Follow Sharon Epperson on Twitter @sharon_epperson.