According to a recent survey, just 30% of people say they were “very confident” they would have the funds for a comfortable retirement. And 61% admitted that preparing for retirement stresses them out.

I understand that thinking about retirement can be hard, even if you did start early, or you have help and make a good living.

But those numbers reminds me of all the ways people go wrong in retirement planning. At the very least, they throw their retirement off track and, in certain cases, potentially cause irreversible problems.

I call these “retirement killers.” And here they are:

1. No written income plan

Retirees’ biggest fear is running out of money. Many are moving through retirement without a plan about how much they will need, or where to get the money they need to replace their paycheck.

The solution: A written income plan is as crucial as a compass is in the wilderness: Without it, you will quickly get lost. You might have to make adjustments in your movement, as new costs arise. But if you stick to your plan, it should help you stay on a good path.

2. Using the wrong ROI assumptions

If you are depending on a 9% ROI to make your plan succeed, and the market does not deliver, your retirement will be in big trouble!

The solution: Be conservative when predicting market performance. Your income plan should use a withdrawal rate of 4% or less for income to ensure you avoid market swings. Also maintain at least 18 months to two years of cash so you are not forced to sell your investments to have income when you are in a bear market.

3. Too much risk

Some folks get too caught up in building money they forget to protect it near retirement. Others mistakenly believe they have a conservative portfolio when they really have one that is aggressive.

The solution: Have a financial adviser do a review of your investments and look at how vulnerable your portfolio could be to future corrections.

4. Giving too much away

I have seen this in many forms: Parents helping grown kids with everyday expenses or some who are paying off student loans for their kids. Some people loan their kids money, or co-sign for a mortgage. This happens too often. It does not help the kids, and it certainly does not help the parents.

The solution: Always be sure you are OK first – even if you’re already “done” saving for retirement. And if that makes you “stingy,” see it this way: You are giving your kids a different type of gift – the gift of independence, for them and you.

5. Believing advisers without investigation when they say, ‘You will be OK’

Without a plan, or without understanding your plan, you are not OK, no matter what any adviser says.

The solution: If you are paying for help, you should be getting it. If your financial professional cannot make time to create a plan for you or does not have the ability to do this, you should be worried and should probably look for a new adviser.

Don’t allow these mistakes to cause you to have a bad retirement. A good plan will help you overcome bad decisions – and the sooner you get back on the right path, the better you will feel about your future.

Author: Blake Ambrose

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