5 Ways to Sabotage Your Retirement Savings

Congratulations! Because you stopped to read this article, I know you’ve at least thought about retirement. Unfortunately, lots of people don’t give much attention to how important it is to save now for when they retire later. Or they started out with good intentions and got sidetracked along the way. They let their guard down and let stupid walk out with their money.

Here are five common ways to sabotage your retirement:

1. Debt 

It’s retirement quicksand. That’s why it’s important to get out of debt and stay out. That includes car payments and mortgages. Think about the money you could be putting away for retirement if you didn’t have a $500 car payment every month. That’s some serious savings. Don’t be the average American—live debt free!

2. Lack of Focus

I’ve met with clients who were on track to enjoying an amazing retirement, only to make one bad move that created a serious setback. One couple paid off all of their debt—including their house—only to celebrate by buying an expensive boat with a nasty little monthly payment. Take my advice. Stay on the defensive and guard against stupid decisions.

3. Waiting Until You’re Older

You may think you don’t need to start investing yet, but that lie could cost you—a lot. If at age 25 you started investing $5,000 a year (a little less than $425 a month) in a fund with a 10% rate of return, you’d have almost $2.5 million at age 65. If you wait until you’re 35 to start saving the same amount, that return drops to about $925,000. Ouch. That 10 years of waiting cost you more than $1 million. As soon as you can, invest as much as you can. It will allow you to retire earlier than you thought with more money that you dreamed of.

4. Borrowing Against It

Some people think they can get out of a pinch by borrowing against their 401(k) or IRA. This is a bad idea, so don’t even go there. First, you’re cheating yourself out of the interest you could be earning if you left the money in place. Yes, I know you plan on paying it back right away, but let’s be honest. Life happens, and before you can say emergency room, you can’t pay back the money like you wanted to. Second, if you withdraw money from your retirement account early, you pay a huge penalty. And if you leave a job or lose a job before you pay back a 401(k), the entire amount you took out will be due, and you have to pay taxes on money you took out. It’s a bad option. Remember, emergency funds are the unexpected problems, and your retirement savings are for your future retirement!

5. Failing to Plan for Long-Term Care

Anybody age 60 or older should carry long-term care insurance. It covers the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-care home during your senior years. If you don’t have this insurance in place, and if something should happen to you, you can kiss your retirement fund goodbye. Assisted living can cost upwards of $36,000 a year and beyond, and a nursing home can cost you twice as much.

Planning for retirement isn’t like washing the car or buying season tickets to the theater. It is absolutely necessary. And guarding that fund is just as important. Unless, that is, you want to find yourself living the retirement nightmare instead of the retirement dream.