By Erik Neilson  Updated on Thu Aug 21, 2014

Why You’ll Make These Mistakes Before Retirement If You’re Not Paying Attention

Retiring early is something that appeals to almost everyone. As you begin aging, there’s comfort in knowing that your finances are in order and that you’ll likely be able to stop working before the official retirement age. Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic for most Americans. However, there are a number of things you can do in order to improve your chances of being able to retire early.

Why Youll Make These Mistakes Before Retirement If Youre Not Paying Attention

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When planning for early retirement, it’s important to not derail your efforts by falling prey to a variety of retirement “gotchas.” These hidden or unexpected costs add up quickly and can easily cut into your retirement plans.  And if you plan to end your career as a working professional earlier than expected, you’ll have to avoid early retirement mistakes. Fortunately, if you learn to identify these issues and tackle them head on, you’ll be one step ahead of the game when it comes time to the retirement planning process.

Here are just a few of the most common “gotchas” to watch out for when it comes to early retirement. Each of these pitfalls can have detrimental effects if you’re not careful. You don’t have to avoid everything listed at all costs, but you should remember that each “gotcha” will make early retirement more difficult than it has to be.

1. New vehicles

Folks who are close to retirement age want to know that they have a reliable vehicle to drive in their golden years. Buying a new car might be necessary if your vehicle is on its last legs, but be careful about buying something high-end. If you purchase a luxury vehicle without actually being able to afford one, you might find yourself in a heap of trouble over time. Car payments can be very expensive, and the nicer the vehicle, the more you can expect to shell out.

Even if you have the money to buy a fancy car, do you really need one? There are plenty of options out there for folks who need a car to help kickstart their retirement, many of which are highly affordable. Buying used, anyone? Taking the more expensive route is a big mistake and could ruin your plans for early retirement.

2. Healthcare

No one wants to admit that their health will eventually deteriorate, but it’s a reality everyone will face. Even if you live a perfectly healthy life, eventually you will age — and healthcare costs will definitely begin to accelerate in retirement. One of the most common mistakes people make while retirement planning is not saving enough for healthcare costs, which is one of the biggest “gotchas” of all.

You never know what ailments or sicknesses you might develop as you age. People who plan to retire early and are smart about it will take healthcare costs into consideration — saving enough for typical health expenses (like checkups and medication) and potential emergencies that might occur. Be sure to factor healthcare costs into your savings goals, using a savings calculator to figure out how much you can save over time.

3. Overestimating the growth of investments

Investing is a wise choice for folks who plan to retire early. If there’s one thing that can truly derail a retirement, however, it’s overestimating the growth that you might see from a set of investments. Some investments seem like a sure bet, but as an investor, you must be aware of how volatile the market can be. Don’t be surprised if you find that one of your investments simply doesn’t pay off like you thought it would.

Relying heavily on your investments in retirement is simply not a good idea. You must have another pool of money is your main source of funding, such as your retirement savings. That said, if you plan on making investments and retiring early, it’s essential to have someone who really knows what they’re doing on your side.

4. Financial advisor fees

As important as it is to have a qualified professional on your side when planning retirement, it’s even more important to be discerning regarding who you to advise you. There are plenty of excellent financial advisors out there who will help you plan for an early retirement without charging you an arm and a leg. This being said, there are even more who will offer you financial advice — for exorbitant fees that will get in the way of you enjoying your retirement to the fullest.

Financial advisors are a dime a dozen, however, which means you should weigh your options heavily before deciding to work with someone. Keep in mind that you’ll most likely be working with your adviser for the long haul, so personal connection is an important factor to consider when making your decision.

5. Major home renovations

Most people would like to say that their homes are built so well that they’ll never need renovations, but that’s not always the case. Major repairs — such as replacing a roof, putting in a new air conditioning system or furnace, etc. — are often necessary as homes age. These are repairs that many folks know might hit them at some point, yet few people plan or save for them. When you consider how much these repairs might hurt your pocketbook, though, it’s clear that you must take the time to plan ahead. It may be helpful to have your home inspected to see whether or not you’re going to need any major repairs in the near future, as it might make the planning process a little easier.

Retiring early can be a wonderful experience, but only if you put the right amount of work into the planning process. Remember that you don’t have to handle each aspect of retirement on your own — it can be helpful to have a group of trusted professionals on your side. Make the right moves, and you’ll have nothing to worry about in early retirement.

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