Commentary: Top 10 Financial Landmines to Avoid Before and During Retirement

Ford Stokes
by Ford Stokes


Planning for retirement is a crucial aspect of financial well-being. However, there are several financial landmines that individuals must navigate to ensure a secure and comfortable retirement.

1. Allowing your money to be mismanaged

Failing to assess and adjust your retirement plan regularly can lead to outdated strategies that may not align with your changing financial goals and circumstances. This can result in missed opportunities for growth and increased risk.

Solution: Regularly review and update your retirement plan. Consult with a financial advisor to ensure your plan reflects your current financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. Consider diversifying your investments to minimize risk and maximize potential returns.

2. Relying solely on your 401(k) as a retirement plan.

Depending solely on a 401(k) can limit your retirement savings potential and expose you to market volatility. It may not provide sufficient income to sustain your desired lifestyle during retirement.

Solution: Diversify your retirement savings by exploring other investment options such as IRAs, Roth IRAs, and taxable brokerage accounts. Consider consulting with a financial advisor to develop a comprehensive retirement plan incorporating multiple income streams.

3. Not knowing how much you are paying in fees

High fees can significantly erode your retirement savings over time, reducing the amount available for your retirement needs.

Solution: Take the time to understand the fees associated with your investment accounts and actively seek ways to minimize them. Consider low-cost indexes or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that offer competitive expense ratios. Regularly review your investment portfolio to ensure it aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

4. Thinking you can beat the market

Engaging in excessive and risky speculation is a red flag. Attempting to time the market or engaging in risky investments can lead to significant losses and jeopardize your retirement savings.

Solution: Adopt a long-term investment strategy focused on diversification and asset allocation. Invest in a mix of stocks, bonds, and other asset classes that align with your risk tolerance. Consider working with a financial advisor who can provide guidance and help you avoid impulsive investment decisions.

5. Overestimating your ability to manage your retirement savings

Overconfidence in one’s investment abilities can lead to poor decision-making, excessive trading, and higher transaction costs, ultimately hindering long-term growth.

Solution: Recognize the value of professional advice and consider working with a financial advisor who can provide objective guidance based on your financial goals and risk tolerance. Regularly review your investment performance and adjust as necessary.

6. Not having a plan for your social security benefits

Failing to understand the best time to start taking Social Security benefits for your situation. Starting Social Security benefits too early or too late can significantly impact your retirement income. It’s essential to optimize your benefits to ensure long-term financial stability.

Solution: Educate yourself on the various claiming strategies and factors influencing Social Security benefits. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or using online tools to determine the optimal time to start receiving benefits based on your unique circumstances.

7. Neglecting to account for potential changes to Social Security in the coming decade

Social Security is subject to potential legislative changes affecting benefit amounts and eligibility requirements. Failing to consider these changes can disrupt your retirement income plan.

Solution: Stay informed about proposed changes to Social Security and adjust your retirement plan accordingly. Consider diversifying your income sources to reduce reliance on Social Security benefits.

8. Depleting your savings too quickly

Failing to establish a sustainable withdrawal strategy. Withdrawing funds from your retirement savings too quickly can deplete your nest egg prematurely, leaving you financially vulnerable in later years.

Solution: Develop a withdrawal strategy that balances your income needs with the longevity of your savings. Consider the 4% rule, which suggests withdrawing 4% of your initial retirement portfolio balance annually, adjusted for inflation. Regularly review and adjust your withdrawal strategy based on your financial needs and market conditions.

9. Underestimating the actual cost of your monthly expenses in retirement.

Failing to accurately estimate your retirement expenses can lead to financial strain and potential depletion of savings.

Solution: Create a comprehensive budget for all your retirement expenses, including healthcare, housing, transportation, and leisure activities. Consider consulting with a financial advisor to ensure your budget aligns with your retirement income and goals.

10. Not aligning your investments with your risk tolerance

Not aligning your investments with your risk tolerance can be a dangerous financial decision. When you invest in assets that carry a higher level of risk than you are comfortable with, you expose yourself to potential losses that could significantly impact your financial well-being. On the other hand, investing too conservatively may limit your growth potential and not provide the returns you need to meet your financial goals.

Solution: Assess your risk tolerance accurately. This can be done by considering your financial goals, time horizon, and personal comfort with volatility. Once you clearly understand your risk tolerance, you can work with a financial advisor or use online tools to build a diversified investment portfolio that aligns with your risk profile. Regularly reviewing and rebalancing your portfolio can also help ensure that your investments align with your risk tolerance.

Proper planning is critical

Planning for retirement is a critical endeavor that requires careful consideration and proactive decision-making. By avoiding the financial landmines outlined in this article and implementing the suggested solutions, individuals can significantly enhance their chances of achieving a secure and comfortable retirement.

Regularly reviewing and updating your retirement plan, diversifying your investments, understanding Social Security benefits, establishing a sustainable withdrawal strategy, and aligning your investments with your risk tolerance are all essential steps toward a financially stable retirement. Remember, seeking professional advice and staying informed about changes in the financial landscape can further support your retirement goals.

By taking these proactive measures, you can confidently and confidently navigate retirement. Start today and secure a brighter financial future for your retirement years.

Investment advisory services are offered through Brookstone Capital Management, LLC (BCM), a registered investment advisor. BCM and Active Wealth Management are independent of each other. Insurance products and services are not offered through BCM but are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed agents.

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Ford Stokes is a wealth manager who hosts Retirement Results, a financial radio show, on the John Frederick’s Radio Network on 18 stations in 9 states on Saturdays and Sundays. He educates clients to help them invest and retire successfully. Retirement Results is an advertiser on the John Fredericks Media Network.





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