5 Retirement Mistakes to Avoid

February 6, 2009

It really doesn’t take much to derail a retirement plan. Many of the errors in planning for retirement are those of neglect, omission or panic. If you don’t know exactly where your retirement plan stands, get some advice to review your overall retirement options and give you some ideas where to start.

Here are five common mistakes people make:

1) Failing to start: It’s amazing how many people find excuses never to start retirement savings. No matter how daunting debt or other spending priorities seem, you have to save for retirement on a regular basis, even if it’s only a cursory amount. Over time, those small assets will grow to something considerably larger.

2) Failing to link planning for your at-work and personal retirement portfolios: One of the critical problems in retirement planning comes from failing to treat the investments you make at work versus the ones you make independently as a unified whole. You need to look at every place you’re putting your money and finding out if you’re implementing those assets in the right way.

3) Failing to consider both kinds of IRAs: The biggest difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA is the way Uncle Sam treats taxes on both types of IRA investments. If you put money in a traditional IRA, you’ll be able to deduct that contribution on your income taxes. In a Roth, you don’t receive the tax deduction for those contributions, but when it’s time to take the money out, you won’t have to pay taxes on it. If you and your spouse are not covered in workplace plans, you may be able to fund fully deductible IRAs.

4) Failing to update your beneficiaries: Starting in 2007, a direct transfer from a deceased employee’s IRA, qualified pension, profit-sharing or stock bonus plan, annuity plan, tax-sheltered annuity, 403(b) plan or a governmental deferred compensation plan to any qualified IRA can be treated as an eligible rollover distribution if the beneficiary is not the deceased’s spouse. That means your kids or any other designated recipient can inherit your IRAs without negative tax consequences at that time. Non-spouse beneficiaries need to check with a tax expert when they must begin distributions from an inherited IRA. Of course, no matter what the investment, make sure your beneficiaries are always current.

5) Withdrawing money early from an IRA or blowing a rollover: Money taken out of an IRA is subject to income taxes and a penalty if you are under 59 ½ years of age and do not put it back into an IRA within 60 days. When moving assets, most of the time a trustee-to-trustee transfer can be more efficient and with less margin for error. If the IRA distribution check is made payable to you, there is a greater chance you’ll miss the 60-day deadline and you’ll face taxes and penalties.

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One Response to “5 Retirement Mistakes to Avoid”

  1. Biggy says:

    Nice work! I’ll have to do a cross post on this one 😉

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