Relying on Luck: Why These Money Plans Won’t Leave You in the Green

It’s St. Patrick’s Day.

It has everyone seeing Irish. Green beer. Shamrocks. Parades. Leprechauns. Pots of gold. Green fedoras. Corned beef and cabbage. The occasional green-iced donut. And you’re likely to hear people talking about the luck of the Irish.

There’s one area, though, where luck doesn’t get you anywhere: your retirement fund. Relying on luck won’t get the money you need for the life you want. It takes a lot of hard work!

Here are some other bad ideas for retirement planning:

1. Counting on your kids. Believe it or not, I hear this all the time: “We’ve always taken good care of our kids; now it’s time for them to take care of us.” Really? Do you want to be a burden to your kids? Because that’s what this retirement plan amounts to. Not only that, but you could be robbing from your grandkids’ futures. You want to be a blessing to your family, so make better retirement plans.

2. Betting on Social Security. Now this is just a bad option. I am not going to trust the government—which has shown how poorly it manages money—to fund my retirement. Any money you receive in Social Security is icing on the cake, not the cake.

3. Relying on one stock. Ever heard of Enron? People lost their entire retirement fund when the company went bankrupt. That’s why spreading out your investments (diversifying your portfolio) is so important. Mutual funds give you that option while minimizing your risks.

4. Keeping savings in cash. This seems like a safe approach, right? Not when you consider the rising costs of goods and services. In the U.S., inflation is about 3% a year. That means your $100,000 in the bank will only be worth $55,000 in 20 years.

5. Waiting a few years. I hear this plan a lot from young adults just starting out. They think they’ve got plenty of time to save. And that myth is costly. If you invest $250 a month from age 25 to 65, you’ll end up with more than $1.4 million at a 10% rate of return. Wait 10 years, and that number drops to $542,830.

6. Borrowing from your 401(k). There’s just no upside for taking money out of your retirement fund. The downside is you’re losing out on potential earnings and you’re putting your future in jeopardy. Go another route if you need money—sell stuff, get an extra job, or rework your budget.

7. Managing your own investments. People make the argument that they could save money on fees if they go it alone with investing. You might save a few dollars, but who’s going to save you from yourself? Not only do investing pros have more education and experience, but they’re not emotionally involved in your money. They’ll keep you on the right track when the stock market jumps and drops. If you need an investing professional, click on the Dream Team tab on my website.

If you’re feeling lucky, catch a game of Bingo or spend a few dollars on a raffle ticket. But don’t leave wealth building to chance. It takes focus, planning and hard work. If you stick with that strategy, you’ll be seeing plenty of green—in dollar bills, that is!