One of the challenges that we face, looking toward the future, is ensuring that there is enough money to live comfortably during retirement. Too many people, though, are complacent about retirement, and what the future holds. Even if you are saving for retirement, you might be sabotaging your efforts.
As you prepare for the future, pay attention. Here are 5 ways to sabotage your retirement:
1. Ignorance of Where You're At
It's easy to get caught up in the details of living in the now. However, this won't help you if you wake up the day before retirement and find that you don't have what you need. In order to make sure that you have enough money to retire, you need to know where you stand right now. Look at your current financial situation, and your assets. Before you can make a plan to move forward and accomplish your retirement goals, you need to know where you stand right now.
Don't plunge your head in the sand and avoid facing the realities. Honestly evaluate your current situation, and create a realistic plan from there.
2. Lack of an Alternative Plan
It's easy to think that your one plan for retirement is enough. However, there are a number of things that can go wrong with your original plan. Whether you end up retiring earlier than you thought, or whether the stock market crashes, you need to have a Plan B (and maybe even a Plan C). Think of scenarios that could arise and change your situation, from the possibility that you become responsible for caring for an aging parent, or that your investments perform poorly. Consider trying to cultivate alternative income streams so that you have regular money coming in, rather than just relying on your nest egg.
3. Underfund Your Retirement Account
Putting $100 a month in a retirement account isn't going to cut it — unless you've been doing it since you were quite young. For most of us, though, such a small amount won't suffice. You need to plan to set aside much more than that if you want to succeed at a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, too many people think that, just because they are putting something in, they are covered. This is not the case. Double check your contributions to your RRSP and TFSA. Max out when you can, and remember to save in other ways, too.
4. Ignore Fees
One of the biggest drains on your retirement wealth could be fees. What sorts of fees are you being charged? Investment fees can add up over time, as can other fees. If you are paying high fees for investments, take a step back. You don't want to be stuck with those high fees, since they erode your overall returns. Learn how to manage your investments yourself so you don't need to constantly pay an advisor. You can also look for low-cost index funds, ETFs, and GICs. More of your money will remain yours.
5. Fail to Pay Down Debt
Obligations on your retirement income can make things much more difficult than they have to be. When you borrow, the true cost to own something is multiplied. You pay interest fees, and that eats into your long-term wealth. If you are paying interest to someone else, you aren't using that money to build your own resources. Instead, try to pay off your debt as quickly as possible — especially high interest credit card debt.
Don't sabotage yourself when it comes to your retirement. Make the effort to improve your habits. Contribute more to your retirement accounts, and reduce your costs and fees. You'll be in a much better place during retirement.