2. Leaving the workforce too early
Once you pull the trigger on leaving your job, it’s hard to make a comeback. Retirement might seem like a rite of passage once you hit a certain age, but there’s nothing guaranteed about your income if you haven’t made a plan for it. “Of those who retire voluntarily, many do so with no real understanding of how much it will cost to live in retirement or when or how the retirement money will come,” Thomas Murphy, a certified financial planner at Murphy & Sylvest in Dallas, told CNBC.
Of those who left the workforce and tried to return after realizing they needed to continue working, many encountered a problem finding a job that offered an adequate salary or benefits, CNBC reports, and many dealt with hiring managers who were concerned about their age.
Unfortunately, even those who do stay in the workforce are at a disadvantage. According to Teresa Ghilarducci of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, older workers are often overlooked for promotions and on-the-job training, and begin to experience a decline in pay between the ages of 55 and 59 regardless of their education level. “Working longer is a retirement plan like winning the lottery or dying earlier is a retirement plan. Being able to work longer is not a plan. It’s a hope,” she told Slate.
Continuing to work isn’t just a financial decision, however. Many retirees say they keep a job in some capacity to keep their minds sharp, remain physically active, and maintain a sense of purpose.
3. Not having a plan for your free time
In a short e-book for Amazon, author Alex Potrero writes that he lost his identity when he retired from a fast-based career as an executive in the federal government. “The biggest mistake I made when I retired was that I did not really know what I would do with all my time after I was, in fact, retired,” he wrote. “I had grown accustomed to routine of a full-time job and when I retired I did not have a routine in place to adequately replace it.”
Many people still at work dream of a retirement that includes sleeping in, reading a book, and spending more time at the beach. However, those activities will quickly become unfulfilling if they’re not supplemented with a social life and a sense of purpose. “You need a reason to get out of bed every morning, get dressed and go do something,” Murphy told CNBC.
Murphy notes that many people, men in particular, lose many of their social connections after retirement, because many of their friends are at work. Before you retire, take steps to solidify those relationships outside of work, or make the time to forge new relationships before you pull the plug on your career. It can also be beneficial to start a new hobby or two before you retire, or begin a volunteer opportunity.