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7 Common Retirement Pitfalls You Need To Avoid

7 Common Retirement Pitfalls You Need To Avoid

All of us will hopefully reach retirement age. This means we all need a retirement plan. Sadly, even those of us who have such a plan often don’t plan correctly for retirement.

Here is a list of 7 common mistakes and the problems they cause:

1. Overacting to market volatility

Many retirees prefer lower yielding bonds and similar funds because they believe these funds are safer. While it’s a good idea to include bonds in your portfolio, the best bet for return on your investment remains the stock market. Most investment counselors suggest that a retiree invest in the stock market a percentage equal to 120 minus their age. Be sure to keep up with inflation, especially on the products you need to buy each month. Most bond funds don’t generate enough income to do this.

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2. Relying on factors outside of your control

Make sure your retirement program does not include unrealistic goals and expense levels. Yes, retirement will cause you to reduce some expenses. However, other expenses will increase as you age, including health costs, help around the house, and hired transportation. Can you rely on your pension or government income to always be there? Many retirees work part time to increase their budget.

3. Retiring without your first few years’ income set aside

No one’s retirement or pension is paid immediately. It often takes several months or longer for that first check to arrive. You will need to pay yourself during this period. You will also need some fall back money for unexpected expenses (you can’t work overtime any more). Having extra money in the bank is crucial while you are adjusting to your new level of income. Most of us will live 20 to 30 years in retirement. It is the longest span of life.

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    4. Taking out a loan

    Taking a loan to tide yourself over is a poor deal. This is true whether you use a credit card or go through a bank. Most of your investments will not pay at the level of the interest you will pay on this loan. So, don’t do it. Find another way. One exception can be a reversed mortgage, especially for those are clearly outliving their retirement benefits. But, if at all possible, don’t take out loans to live. This is never a great strategy at any age.

    5. Not sticking to a plan

    As we get older, many of us become less able to manage our funds. This is why we need to have someone help us with this problem. This can be a child or a paid investment counselor. The idea here is to set up a lifetime plan and then stick with it. You don’t want to be spending your money uselessly by switching banks or other investments due to confusion. However, don’t hang on to stocks for too long either. Set up some investment standards and then stick to them.

    6. Giving too much to your children

    Your adult children need to support themselves. Don’t spend money on them that you need to live on yourself. It is okay to say, “No, I can’t afford that because I am on a limited income that needs to remain balanced.” It is fine to assist with an actual emergency, such as a car repair that crops up at a bad time, or give a gift to help with a new arrival, but don’t stray from your lifetime plan. A good idea is to consider these possible events while creating your retirement plan.

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    7. Not looking at the cost of things

    A retiree needs to live on a fixed income. This means being careful with money. Some good ways to lower costs are

    • moving to a smaller, less costly home
    • changing your state residence to one with lower or no taxes
    • taking advantage of senior discounts, many which are not income dependent
    • buying Medicare gap insurance

    The last tip is especially useful, because paying that 20 percent that Medicare does not cover for a hospital stay can really sink a retiree.

    Overall, remember that retirement needs years of planning to be successful. Be sure to think ahead, and avoid these pitfalls for a successful life after retirement.

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    Featured photo credit: StockMonkeys.com via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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