3 Top Financial Mistakes of Retirees

3 Top Financial Mistakes of Retirees

You were in the working world for decades and you have finally reached retirement. Your time is completely your own, and you are free to pursue your passions. You can live wherever you want, no longer bound by your work. These years can be some of the greatest of your life, but in order to make them so, you must take certain steps. One of the most important aspects to tend to in your golden years is your finances. Avoiding flubs will keep your vision for the ideal retirement alive and well, and reduce stress greatly. Here are some of the top mistakes to watch for in this stage of life.

Spending Too Much Money on Leisure

If you have been good about your retirement savings, you have built up quite the nest egg. Seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in the bank , and/ or having that nice social security check coming every month can make you feel invincible financially. You have a lot of time on your hands now and this can lead to lots of spending in the form of new hobbies, travel, dinners out and other fun stuff. While you may have decreased expenses due to moving to a less expensive location, commuting fees and the like, you have to remember that you need to make this money last for what may be a few more decades. You may need some very expensive health care in the future. There is nothing wrong with making the most out of this time of life and spending your money on what makes you happy, but do not just spend blindly. Think about the ways you want to spend your retirement and crunch some numbers to make sure you are not spending more money than you should be.

Not Considering Future Health Needs Carefully Enough

Many people are in excellent health when they first retire. You are feeling great and are a force to be reckoned with. No one likes to think of being elderly and infirmed. Maybe you will escape that fate, but betting on it 100 percent may be a risky move. A 2012 survey by Nationwide confirmed what has long been known by experts in the healthcare industry—most Americans do not understand fully about how Medicare works and they greatly overestimate what expenses will be covered by the program. Many people do not realize that assisted living is almost always 100 percent private pay with some exceptions. Coverage for nursing homes is only available for people in certain financial circumstances. Many kinds of expenses will not be covered by this insurance program unless deemed ‘’medically necessary.’’ Familiarize yourself with how this program works. Think about how you would take care of expenses not covered. Look into long-term care insurance and other options.

Mismanaging IRAs

IRAs are a common source of income for retirees, but not managing them properly can have serious financial consequences. ROTH IRAs are not so much of a problem. Because contributions are not tax-deductible, you are not required to pay tax on withdrawals, nor are you required to start withdrawals at any certain time. In fact, you don’t ever have to touch this money and it can be a great tool for passing on wealth to heirs.

Traditional IRAs are a different story however. You can start drawing on them at 59 ½ but are not required to take withdrawals until you reach 70 1/2 . This money is taxed as ordinary income and you are required to take minimum distributions—failure to do so can result in a 50 percent tax penalty on top of the standard income tax.

Some people are tempted to hold off on withdrawals until they are no longer allowed. But, this can backfire. If you wait until you reach 70 ½, your minimum distributions will be much larger, which can push you into a higher tax bracket. In most cases, it makes sense to start withdrawing the money earlier.

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