Many older adults have high levels of regret about their finances, according to responses to a 2020 survey of Americans over age 50 conducted by the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study.
The survey found that nearly 60% of participants regretted not saving more for retirement. Forty percent regretted not buying long-term care insurance, 37% regretted not working longer, and 23% regretted taking Social Security too early.
Financial regrets may be common, but they don’t have to be inevitable. And even if you have regrets about how you prepared for retirement, these errors don’t have to be permanent. There are options for course correction, even after you’ve stopped working.
Here are four tips to help you avoid or mitigate financial mistakes in retirement.
1. Plan for long-term care expenses
One mistake that clients may make after retirement is not considering long-term care planning,
including the potential need for nursing home or assisted living expenses. These costs can deplete your assets and put a strain on your loved ones.
Someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. The average person requires care for three years.
You may want to explore options for long-term care insurance and create a comprehensive estate plan that addresses the potential costs of long-term care.
2. Account for inflation
Nearly two-thirds of retirees said inflation and the rising cost of living was the “biggest financial shock” in retirement, according to surveys conducted from January to March 2023 by Edward Jones and The Harris Poll.
Respondents cited inflation as a shock more often than the combined total of the next three top
responses — unexpected medical or dental expenses (22%), major home expenses or repairs (20%), and significant declines in the value of investments (19%).
If your earlier retirement planning didn’t account for high inflation, it might be time to re-examine your retirement finances.
3. Keep managing your investments
Whether it’s to deal with inflation or for any other reason, you might want to revise your investment and/or withdrawal strategies to help your money last in retirement. You should have a retirement income plan in place that matches your current lifestyle.
4. Prepare for surprises
Even with a good retirement income plan, your finances need to be ready to deal with surprises. Unplanned expenses such as a roof replacement or a large unexpected medical bill could cause problems.
Some of these problems might be harder to deal with now than in the past. Higher inflation means those unexpected expenses might cost more than before, while you’re also spending more on the day-to-day cost of living.
Plan to put some of your retirement income aside for unforeseen costs. An emergency fund of three to six months is generally sufficient to cover or defray these expenses.