There is always more time. Until there’s not.
You can always make it right. Until you can’t.
If you can make it to the end of your life with no regrets, that is a well-lived life.
This article is a preemptive strike so that you can avoid the 7 most common regrets people have at the end of their retirements.
1. Why Didn’t I Do This Earlier?
Aging tends to put things into true perspective, and many of my clients express regret that they didn’t retire earlier. Many stayed at their jobs longer than needed because they were nervous about making the jump even when their finances weren’t the limiting factor. This is especially true for those who didn’t like their jobs when they were working.
Retirement can be a scary transition, but we all have to make sure we are making our decisions from a place of confidence rather than fear and anxiety.
2. The Non-Money Spouse
With most couples, there is a spouse who knows the finances and one who doesn’t, and this division of labor works great until the money spouse dies or becomes disabled.
It is all too common that the non-money spouse is left with almost zero knowledge about their financial life. This ranges from not knowing how their investments work to even what accounts they have and how to access them.
Many terrible financial decisions have been made by the non-money spouse simply because they didn’t understand what was going on.
It is critical to have a plan to avoid this situation. This can range from making sure both spouses understand what is going on to having a financial planner so that there is someone to help every step of the way.
Note: Our firm gets hired all the time for this exact reason. Even if one spouse is more than capable of doing things themselves they often want a financial planner so that their spouse has support if something happens to them.
3. Too Early or Too Late
At retirement, people tend to go to extremes. Some people are painfully frugal at the beginning of retirement because they are so afraid of running out of money. Others spend way too much money early in retirement because they finally have unfettered access to their retirement savings (TSP, IRAs, etc.).
Both of these extremes tend to regret their decisions later.
It is critical to find a balance between enjoying retirement now while also ensuring they are set up for long-term success.
4. You Won’t Always Feel This Way
As people progress through retirement, a common realization is that energy levels at 75 are not the same as they were at 65 or 55. While retirement may be 35 years long, how many of those years will be high-energy?
There are windows of time where energy-intensive activities are possible, but that window doesn’t last forever. So if you want to travel the world you better do it early. If you want to hike through Europe, you better do it early.
5. Not Having a Clear Picture Going In
Retirement finances can get complicated. There can be a lot of moving parts including the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), IRAs, Pension, Social Security, Life Insurance, Medicare, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), Survivor Benefits, required minimum distributions (RMDs), Taxes, and more.
It is easy for things to get confusing or simply not be clear, and when your financial situation is murky it is hard to make great decisions. Many regret not having a clearer picture of things before going into retirement.
6. The Other Stuff
Everyone (including me) talks about getting your money right before you retire, but what about all your non-money stuff?
A financial plan is important, but what about your relationship plan? What about your passion plan and your adventure plan? Your full and amazing life plan?
Those without a plan often default to easy things like watching TV or surfing the internet.
A great retirement doesn’t work without money, but every retirement would suck if that was all there was.
7. More Margin
Retired or not, money is stressful if things are tight. Watching every penny is annoying at best and terribly painful at worst.
Many retirees wish they had saved a little more or kept their lifestyle a little simpler in order to have the peace of mind that comes with having more wiggle room in their finances.
No matter your age, if you are reading this then you have time.
Time to make a change. Time to live all out. Time to be better and do better. Time to live with no regrets.