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How to Avoid These 5 Mistakes in Retirement

Listen to Best in Wealth Podcast Episode 181

I recently came across an opinion piece, “I Failed at Retirement: How to Avoid My Mistakes,” by Mike Drak. Mike worked in the banking industry for over 30 years. His wife is an investment advisor. But when he retired, he quickly felt like he had failed to prepare. How did he fail at retirement? I will dissect the five mistakes he said he made in this episode of Best in Wealth!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] Why I was unprepared for Fortress Planning Group
  • [5:11] Mistake #1: Focusing on the money
  • [7:34] Mistake #2: Thinking retirement would be easy
  • [10:20] Mistake #3: Believing the retirement commercials
  • [12:26] Mistake #4: Retiring makes your problems disappear
  • [14:39] Mistake #5: Not having something to retire to
  • [17:12] How you can apply these mistakes to your life

Mistake #1: Focusing on the money

There is a belief that the quality of your retirement depends on how much money you have. While you do need money to fund your retirement, there is something bigger at play. You have to design a life for your retirement years that you will enjoy before you retire. If you retire at 65, you may have 25+ years of quality life left. 

What are your values? What makes you happy? How can you satisfy those questions in retirement? The one thing I have learned being a business owner and financial planner for eleven years is that it is not all about the money. Build a board of your goals, dreams, and aspirations. Figure out what they are before you retire. 

Mistake #2: Thinking retirement would be easy

Quitting your job is considered one of the ten most stressful life events. You are doing the same thing for years and suddenly you hit the brakes and you are done. The unknown is stressful. When you are at your job and people count on you, you are in a comfortable room. But the moment you leave your working life, you are kicked into the hallway. 

The hallway is cold, dark, and unfamiliar. But there are a lot of rooms you can decide to enter. You finally walk down the hallway and look through a door. Maybe it does not fit, so you investigate until you find the room that fits perfectly for you. You just have to find it. 

Mistake #3: Believing the retirement commercials

The narrative is that you can just slow down, play golf, and do whatever you want in your retirement—and you would be satisfied. There is nothing wrong with golfing, vacations, and spending time with your grandkids. For Mike, this was not enough. He was not built to slow down. But retirement does not have to mean slowing down. You just have to find somewhere else to continue your fast-paced life. 

Mistake #4: Retiring makes your problems disappear

I think a lot of us fall into this category. Are you miserable at your job? Are you miserable in other areas of your life? Quitting your job will not make you magically happy. It will not transform who you are if you were not happy before. You will not magically hit the gym, eat healthily, or travel more. Make sure as a family steward that this is not you. Do you have an unhealthy routine right now? Build a new routine that you thrive on. It will take thought and work—so get started before you retire. 

Mistake #5: Not having something to retire to

You need to have a plan for a new routine that you execute when you retire. Why? When you retire, your sense of purpose can take a major hit. Some people may be forced to retire due to downsizing or even health issues. That is why you need to figure out how you will fill that void. What did the author of the article do? He went back to work. He became an author, coach, and public speaker. It gives him the autonomy and flexibility that he always craved. Is that what you are missing from your job? 

Resources Mentioned

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Podcast Disclaimer:

The Best In Wealth Podcast is hosted by Scott Wellens. Scott Wellens is the principal at Fortress Planning Group. Fortress Planning Group is a registered investment advisory firm regulated by the Securities Act of Wisconsin in accordance and compliance with securities laws and regulations. Fortress Planning Group does not render or offer to render personalized investment or tax advice through the Best In Wealth Podcast. The information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, investment or legal advice.