Retirement Regret – and What to Do About It

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We all have things we regret doing (or not doing) in our lives. I call mine my “woulda, coulda, shoulda” list. I’ll be the first to admit that mine is longer than I’d like.

Occasionally, life throws us a bone and gives us a do-over. Maybe you’ll get a second chance to take that dream trip to an exotic locale or a new opportunity to spend more time with the grandkids.

Many goals in life offer second chances

Unfortunately, retirement isn’t one of them.

Not surprisingly, retirees often wish they could go back in time so that they could prepare differently for their retirement by saving more and spending less. But there’s one regret I’ve heard from my own retired parents and their friends that I wasn’t expecting.

They regret not retiring sooner.

Here’s how they found themselves in that situation and how you can avoid the same disappointment.

Wake Up From Your Retirement Nightmares

I like to say that retirement planning is a lot like getting ready to survive a hurricane: “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Unfortunately, many people spend their retirement preparing for what could go wrong instead of enjoying it.

Even with the best planning, no retirement plan can account for all of the unknowns.

That’s what makes the thought of retiring so scary for many people. It’s human nature to fear the unknown, and a retirement of 20 years or more is full of it.

Here’s the thing: It’s impossible to budget for every healthcare crisis, stock market crash or other financial emergency that could happen over the next two decades…

Notice that I said could and not will.

All of these bad things that you’ve budgeted for may happen to you during retirement. Others that you haven’t even thought of yet will likely happen.

But I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s highly unlikely that all of them will rain down on your golden years and bankrupt your retirement.

Eventually, there comes a point when you have to trust in what you do know: The stock market almost always goes up over time, and you’ve saved enough to live out your retirement in style.

That said, use your best judgment… If you have only $1,000 saved for retirement, obviously you shouldn’t throw caution to the wind and retire.

If you have any doubts as to whether you have enough, check out our Retirement Readiness Calculator to quickly see where you stand. To be safe, consult a financial planner before you retire.

Just Do It

Deciding to retire is the very first step of the journey. Once you’ve reached your savings goals and the rest of your plans have fallen into place, then it’s time to go for it!

Just remember, as former-President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

You can’t retire without a plan, but you can’t plan for everything. There’s a good chance that the retirement you get won’t be the one you planned for, and that’s okay. There comes a point when you have to let go of your retirement fears, take a chance and actually enjoy it.

Good investing,


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