WHAT?!? Ignore This Retirement Advice
Some retirement advice is repeated so frequently--from your old Uncle Milton to that friendly bank teller who may or may not have gone to college--that we start to believe it. Here's the thing: It's often bad advice! Bankrate.com has helpfully assembled the top five retirement advice gems that you should probably ignore or view with skepticism.
Here's a little trick for saving big money--the kind you need to send your children to college or fund your retirement.
Retirement Gem No. 1: You can always work.
While many of us want to work as long as possible for our mental health if nothing else, the reality is that you may not be physically capable of working at some point. You never know what will happen--from a heart attack to painful arthritis--and should never count on a lifetime of income from steady employment. And don't forget the choice may not be yours! Your company may not want an 85-year-old as an employee.
Retirement Gem No. 2: Pay off the mortgage.
Paying off your mortgage before you retire is often an emotional decision rather than a financial decision. While there is much to be said for a house that you fully own, it's not always the right strategy--especially if you're using savings or investments to pay off the amount you owe in full. It might make more sense to keep making the low-interest monthly mortgage payments and put that cash in higher-yielding investments.
Retirement Gem No. 3: You need X amount per year.
It's relatively easy to figure out how much you will need annually when you retire, and it's tempting to place your investments in safe vehicles so you will be sure to generate that specific amount. But there is a big X factor to determining an X amount per year of income: Those calculations are based on the value of today's dollar. Inflation is quite unpredictable. If that X amount is $80,000 a year now, what will it be in 30 years? This is why you don't want to overload your portfolio with fixed-return bonds and annuities, since the rate of return is far too low.
Retirement Gem No. 4: It's smart to downsize.
The house really is too big. It's a lot to clean and maintain. But before you put out the "for sale" sign, run the numbers to see if downsizing makes sense financially. It doesn't for everyone. The costs of selling a house, buying a new house, paying for closing costs on both transactions and then paying moving expenses add up fast. And a smaller home doesn't necessarily mean a less expensive cost of living. So look at the numbers carefully, because staying where you are could be the cheaper option.
Retirement Gem No. 5: Skimp on 401(k) savings.
Living is expensive. The kids need braces. Then college expenses mount up. Perhaps you've had unexpected medical expenses. Just trying to keep your checkbook balanced and in the black may tempt you to skip or lower a 401(k) contribution every once in a while. Don't do it! And don't borrow from that nest egg, either. It may be a convenient and fast way to raise cash, but it will hurt you big time in the long run. Only you can fund your retirement.
The ideal retirement age is...