By John Benedict
Retirement marks the beginning of a unique life phase, a departure from the familiar routine of a regular income and structured daily life. It’s a shift from the rhythm you’ve been accustomed to for years into the uncharted territory of managing limited finances and seemingly boundless free time. A significant change from your lifelong habits, it’s also a moment to assess whether your diligent efforts will yield the desired results.
In the first decade of retirement, most retirees encounter similar financial planning challenges. Curious to learn more? Continue reading to learn the most common money mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Creating a Withdrawal Strategy
Financial planning doesn’t stop once you enter retirement. Capitalize on your wealth by deciding the most tax-efficient way to withdraw funds in your golden years.
Different financial accounts are taxed at different rates. Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are taxed at the ordinary income tax rate when you withdraw. Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s are taxed beforehand, so the money is withdrawn tax-free. Funds in a taxable investment account are taxed at the capital gains tax rate, which is different from your ordinary income tax rate.
As you can see, calculating the best time to pull from each account is enough to give anyone a headache. But the last thing you want is to get hit with a hefty tax bill.
Create a withdrawal strategy with the help of a trusted professional who can make sure you’re withdrawing funds at a sustainable rate and that you’re doing it in a tax-efficient way.
2. Overspending in Retirement
Many people spend their retirement years doing all the things they never got to do when they were working—starting a passion project, remodeling the house, traveling the world, and more.
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of money you’ll spend those first few years when you don’t account for all these “extras.” Overspending, even for a short period, can shave years off the longevity of your assets. My advice? Create a spending plan. Calculate your monthly income given your withdrawal strategy (See #1) and then create a budget.
3. Ignoring Inflation
Another major challenge we see new retirees face is the desire to play it safe in the stock market. This does more harm than good as it leads to inflation risk.
While healthcare expenditures are typically affected less by inflation than other spending categories, from 2021-2022 there was a 4.0% increase in medical care services compared to the historical average inflation rate of 1.23%. What does this mean? Retirees are more likely to feel the effects of inflation due to mandatory expenses, such as healthcare costs.
As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to worry about short-term stock market volatility. With a retirement that could easily last 20 to 30 years, inflation is still the biggest threat to your nest egg. Sit down with a trusted professional who can help you strike a balance between protection and growth.
4. Not Having an Emergency Fund
Could you comfortably pay an unexpected, major expense in retirement without jeopardizing your financial future? For most of us, the answer is no. Just as you were taught to have an emergency fund in your formative years, it’s even more critical to have one in your retirement years.
It used to be recommended to have 3 to 6 months of expenses saved up in an easily accessible savings account, but now more professionals are recommending at least 12 to 18 months’ worth. This may sound like a lot, but an emergency fund serves two purposes: it covers unexpected expenses and it provides stability during economic downturns. This means you can optimize your portfolio to beat inflation (#3 on our list) while having a safety net to fall back on.
5. Taking the DIY Approach
Over many years, you’ve put in the effort to build and safeguard your wealth. Don’t leave your retirement to chance by handling your finances on your own. Partnering with a reliable financial advisor can make the difference between depleting your retirement savings and making it last throughout your lifetime.
At J2 Capital Management, we are dedicated to helping you optimize your portfolio while avoiding these common pitfalls. We take into careful consideration your investment choices and tailor them to your unique risk tolerance, individual situation, goals, and various life factors, always prioritizing your best interests above all else. To learn more about our approach, we invite you to schedule a meeting online or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-641-4444.
About John Benedict
John Benedict is CEO, investment advisor representative, and portfolio manager at J2 Capital Management, a boutique financial advisory firm specializing in in-house custom financial planning, tax, estate, and investment management. With over 20 years of experience, John is passionate about helping clients navigate uncertain markets, reduce risk, and plan for a sound future. John combined his talents and passion in statistics and technical analysis to create J2’s tactical strategies, managing them since the beginning of the organization. He is known for being a visionary and continually looking for ways to improve J2’s services and strategies to better serve his clients. John graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in business administration and finance, and his thoughts on markets and technical analysis have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Investment News, and on Moneyshow.com. He was also a contributor to the book The StockTwits Edge: 40 Actionable Trade Set-Ups from Real Market Pros.
When he’s not working, you can find John boating or participating in water sports and spending time with his wife, Janine, and his three children, Jack, Alexis, and Saraphina. To learn more about John, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his latest webinar on What Makes J2 Capital Management Different From Other Financial Advisors.