Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

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cresive
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Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by cresive » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:20 am

Hello All,

I am not sure if I am posting this question in the correct forum, but here it goes. I would LOVE to hear from people who are just entering retirement, as well as those who are 5-10 years in. I would like to ask them two questions: 1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's. 2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off. Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

When you answer, please skip the "I wish I had saved more/earlier" as that is a given. I would really be interested in any information that may not be commonly purported in the "retirement" literature. If this question is a repeat, I apologize, but I am sure it is worth revisiting from time to time.
Last edited by cresive on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

niceguy7376
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Re: Question

Post by niceguy7376 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:27 am

Please edit your post with a more informative subject line. this should be attention grabbing for people to come in and provide input.

I am in early 40s and hence wouldnt be able to provide any input.

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Re: Question

Post by midareff » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:56 am

cresive wrote:Hello All,

I am not sure if I am posting this question in the correct forum, but here it goes. I would LOVE to hear from people who are just entering retirement, as well as those who are 5-10 years in. I would like to ask them two questions:

1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's. I'm 69 and starting the 6th year of my/our retirement. I was a late in life baby and my parents retired at 62 and moved to Florida to get out of the NY winters. They always saved and invested long term in the stock market and since I was old enough to sit at the dinner table we listened to the stock market report on the radio at dinner. I was brought up as savings and investing are things you do as part of life, and a solid retirement is just what the end result will be. In my 50's I was working hard on my career, maxing my deferred comp and Roth, and living below my means while pursuing my hobbies in my spare time. My biggest mistake was being almost all tech into the tech wreck of the late 90's.

2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.
[color=#BF0000]I was working and investing through a payroll deduction plan in my early to mid 20's. LOL, 20 bucks a month with a $4 company match. It was long ago but the ethic was already in place. From my late 30's on up I was at maximum deferred comp, which included a three year double up provision in my later 50's. When I got a cola or a promotion I took half for me and the rest increased savings.
[/color]

Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

When you answer, please skip the "I wish I had saved more/earlier" as that is a given. I don't have that to offer since I saved enough, perhaps more than enough, although if I had retired into a long bear rather than a long bull that answer might be different.

I would really be interested in any information that may not be commonly purported in the "retirement" literature. If this question is a repeat, I apologize, but I am sure it is worth revisiting from time to time. Do not underestimate the costs of appropriate medical and dental care, not to mention entertainment and travel. There are very different retirements. It's one thing to be rocking on the porch and wearing out your library card unable to afford much else and another to be lining up your next cruise.

Also.. if you have interests, develop those interests so you have pursuits that take your time when you are retired and have it. Between travel, photography, movies, music, reading, dining out and just enjoying life I have been so busy I don't know how I ever had the time to go to work :D




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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by goingup » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:04 am

Here's a recent long thread on Best Financial Moves Made. viewtopic.php?t=207752

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JDCarpenter
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by JDCarpenter » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:17 am

Retiring end of July or so. (mid 50s)

Summary is what you've always heard: LBYM, invest in equities, stay the course, and stay married (if you are!).

Biggest retirement related error: 1) Buying our dream house in early 30s and over-improving it to be perfect for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, the economic climate in the location tubed and we relocated at 43-44. Oopsie. Great memories, but lost equivalent of primary wage earner's income on the sale (i.e., two years of anticipated retirement spending in nominal terms). (Even bigger cost was choosing to have three kids and having me take very long hiatus from practicing law to raise them--but that one we don't regret.)

Smartest thing, other than having a great married team and taking advantage of our professional degrees: maxing our 401k/403b/profit_sharing plans, and being content with 100% equity investments from 1985 through 2013. In our 50's, as the boys dropped off the payroll, we continued our baseline spending at the same rate as when we were paying for colleges, which enabled us to quickly build large enough taxable account to support a few years in retirement.

Hope any retirement surprises are good ones, but too soon for me to say.
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cresive
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Re: Question

Post by cresive » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:22 am

Great answer!!! I especially liked your final answer, below:

Also.. if you have interests, develop those interests so you have pursuits that take your time when you are retired and have it. Between travel, photography, movies, music, reading, dining out and just enjoying life I have been so busy I don't know how I ever had the time to go to work :D [/color]


[/quote][/quote]

cresive
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by cresive » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:24 am

goingup wrote:Here's a recent long thread on Best Financial Moves Made. viewtopic.php?t=207752



Thanks for the thread. I am enjoying it. However, I wanted more personal stories, like the ones I have been getting. I dont' think this question can be asked enough

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by livesoft » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:25 am

I'm retired. We just did the usual stuff that everybody does:

When we got married, we used Vanguard MM Prime for our savings along with those 12% CDs in our IRAs. We invested the entire gross salary of the highest paid spouse in Vanguard funds for many years and paid taxes and living expenses from the lower paid spouse's salary. Didn't own but one car and didn't own a house. Waited until our late 30s to have kids and house.
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JDCarpenter
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by JDCarpenter » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:31 am

livesoft wrote:I'm retired. We just did the usual stuff that everybody does:

When we got married, we used Vanguard MM Prime for our savings along with those 12% CDs in our IRAs. We invested the entire gross salary of the highest paid spouse in Vanguard funds for many years and paid taxes and living expenses from the lower paid spouse's salary. Didn't own but one car and didn't own a house. Waited until our late 30s to have kids and house.


Ah, if that only were the case outside of those on this and similar sites!

On a more serious note, the timing of kids is a tough call (assuming that a couple is lucky enough to have things go according to plan). We did it kind of early among our work-peers (one each in last two years of residency, skip one year for number 3). Was tougher to get aggressive on early saving. OTOH, the last one graduated college when we were 53/54, rather than 61/62 ....
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livesoft
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by livesoft » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:34 am

My youngest won't get out of college until we are in our 60s. I don't see any problems with that. It hasn't affected retirement at all.
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by littlebird » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:18 am

My parents had a failed retirement in that my mother started working later in life and enjoyed the social aspects of her part-time, non-professional job, while my father, 10 years older, saw his industry collapse and had to retire early. Therefore he was home, somewhat depressed, while she was working and planning to retire in a few years when they would re-locate to Florida and do some traveling. While she was still working, he had needed surgery, developed pneumonia and died. She was angry and bitter for much of her remaining years.

This history colored our planning and resulted in my giving up my professional job to retire with my much older spouse when he was able to do so in his early 60's. We were certainly not prepared in the way most people on this site are, but we were lucky; the economy was favorable to us and we've had an adventurous and memorable, albeit (comparatively) modest retirement. 29 years later, he is now bed-bound in a comfortable assisted living group home where I visit every day, and I am still comfortably in our large marital home in an amenity-rich senior community, managing well financially, in a modest way. And I cannot think of one thing I would consider a mistake. je ne regrette rien

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JDCarpenter
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by JDCarpenter » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:47 am

livesoft wrote:My youngest won't get out of college until we are in our 60s. I don't see any problems with that. It hasn't affected retirement at all.


Yeah, our retirement plans were always for extensive long travel. Would have been issue if kids still pre-college.

But, this is firmly in YMWV territory. We all make our choices and hope they turn out the way we desire--or at least close to it!
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Will do good
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Will do good » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:15 pm

1. Should have spend on few extra vacations when our kids were young and don't worry too much about our retirement funds. Now we travel with just the two of us and I missed the family trips and times together.
2. Got layout from mega corp, instead of looking for another job I started my own business, business took off, we retired early and travel.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Watty » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:25 pm

cresive wrote:2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.


The smartest thing that I did was to move to a lower cost of living area when I was younger.

I was in the Silicon Valley, which has always been expensive, in the 1980's when I was in my 30's. When I was ready to buy a house the only type of house I could have afforded there would have been a tiny old house. There were other reasons but the housing cost was one of the big factors in my decision to move up to Portland Oregon which had inexpensive housing then(not so much now).

Later on during a company merger I took a transfer to Atlanta which has an even lower cost of living.

I was a computer programmer before I retired. I was always well paid but I never had the crazy bonus plans and stock options that you see people posting about. I was able to retire when I was 58.

At least in that job segment unless you are in some special niche I have found that salaries don't vary by region as much as you might think and the higher pay in the high cost of living areas is not nearly enough to cover the higher expenses. My son also got a computer science degree and is now working as a software engineer here in Atlanta. He and all of his computer classmates that are in the area were able to easily afford to buy their first homes a few year out of college. Now that they are in their late 20's some of them are already looking at buying their "forever" homes and they can reasonably afford small McMansions, which start at about $300K, if they want them. They are also trying to decide if they should get 15 year mortgages so they could have paid off homes before they are 45 which would be about the time their kids will be starting college.

The cost of living in your area also has an impact on future generations. When I was living in Silicon Valley one thing I also saw was that some of my older coworker had kids in their 20's that did not have high paying jobs, like in a department store, and the kids could not even afford to live in an apartment with roommates there so they were still living with their parents well into their mid 20's and that was often not a good situation.

My son is doing well but in comparison we have some friends that have a son that is dyslexic and barely graduated from high school. He ended up working in a chain muffler shop which is a good honest job but I am sure that it didn't pay a lot. Even with that income he was able to live with his parents for a few years to save up a down payment and buy a very modest house for around $100K. (He has become a mechanic now is doing much better.)

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Dottie57 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:37 pm

I am near retirement so will answer.

Mistakes

1> when younger I didn't pay attention to my roll over IRA. Big mistake. FA didn't care if it did well or not . And this was a family friend.

When older, I would say a) no Roth conversions during the crash - i was afraid to chew up my cash reserves in paying taxes. b). I didn't understand the imprtance of tax diversification in my portfolio. I have much less in taxable. C) i wish I enjoyed more group activities.

Best things.

A) younger -every year increase 401k contrivutions and to alwayslive below my means. No credit card carry overs. I've never had dsiremfor LOTS of things.

B) older -stay the course in investing and spending.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Quark » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:41 pm

livesoft wrote:I'm retired. We just did the usual stuff that everybody does:

When we got married, we used Vanguard MM Prime for our savings along with those 12% CDs in our IRAs. We invested the entire gross salary of the highest paid spouse in Vanguard funds for many years and paid taxes and living expenses from the lower paid spouse's salary. Didn't own but one car and didn't own a house. Waited until our late 30s to have kids and house.

Our definitions of "usual" and "everybody" appear to diverge.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Lynette » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:54 pm

cresive wrote:Hello All,

1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.

I emigrated to this country when I was 35 from South Africa - among reasons tired of the non-ending refusal of party holding power to become realistic about the political situation. I may have done better in a financial situation I understood but who knows.

The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.

I read a few books on mutual funds and found out that no load funds did as well as load funds so I invested in them in my 401K. My mother went back to work when her children were teenagers and worked into her seventies. She told me it had made a huge difference to their financial situation. I also worked into my seventies and spent a small fortune on travel. I stayed with a job I did not particularly like because of the pension.

Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?


Surprise is how much tax I have to pay - maybe I should have retired earlier :D But my two pensions and full SS should provide for a reasonable lifestyle without dipping into my savings. So I don't regret not saving more as my strategy was to travel while I had the health and to work longer. Another surprise is the amount of paperwork involved in pensions/medicare/taxes etc.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by livesoft » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:11 pm

Quark wrote:Our definitions of "usual" and "everybody" appear to diverge.

Oh, I forgot to add that we lived in Europe for a few years in our twenties working for almost no money and traveling quite a bit. We didn't save any money then, but had a great time. Of course, no kids and no home-ownership then either. So my experience is that one doesn't have to knuckle down until they are almost 30.
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by bigred77 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:40 pm

livesoft wrote:
Quark wrote:Our definitions of "usual" and "everybody" appear to diverge.

Oh, I forgot to add that we lived in Europe for a few years in our twenties working for almost no money and traveling quite a bit. We didn't save any money then, but had a great time. Of course, no kids and no home-ownership then either. So my experience is that one doesn't have to knuckle down until they are almost 30.


You sound like a ne'er do well millennial. Probably wore jeans to the office and only drank craft beers too.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:21 pm

cresive wrote:
1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.


Wish I had invested a greater % of assets in equities along the way. More specifically, in my 20's and 30's should have been 100% in equities. I think I always tended toward a more diversified portfolio. Lived through .com bubble explosion at turn of century and 2008 financial crisis with substantial assets in markets, which I think has made me even more conservative than I was previously and than most my age (or in my position). However, I was able to make up for that by having a big job for a very long time.

Should have let stock options run longer (closer to expiration) before exercising.

cresive wrote:
2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.


Living well within our means. Don't get me wrong, we still lived well and did not deprive ourselves all that much along the way. However, we passed on the second home and although we drove nice cars, they were not what we could have driven given our income.

Don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses - many of those people will likely either never retire or will live a very modest lifestyle in retirement if they do.

Save as much as possible. Vast majority of our assets in taxable accounts as one can only set aside so much each year in tax preferenced accounts.

Invest in low cost index funds/ETF's. Watch expense ratio's. - costs matter.

Save for children's college education early and often. I saved enough to pay all college costs before either of my kids entered their first year of college. Use 529's for a good portion of these savings.


cresive wrote:
Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?


Having only retired last year this one is tough for me to answer. By way of background, early retired last year at 53 (no DB pension plan, so living off our assets with no plans to tap SS until 70). Wife is two years younger and also retired (actually she has not worked outside the home since our first daughter was born).

I would say that I am not bored, which was a worry pre-retirement. I do what I want, when I want, how I want and where I want and don't do things I don't want or at times I don't want to do them. I don't know that this is as much a surprise, but it's really great I will say that.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by StoneBob » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:03 pm

I retired last year at 65.

The biggest favor that my younger self did for my present self was to actually create a retirement plan in my late 20's and start implementing it. In my middle years, I routinely revisited the plan (eventually with the help of a CFP) and stayed invested through all the scary things that happened in the market.

The thing that I wish my younger selves had done would have been to set my target retirement age at something like 60 instead of 65. I was very engaged with my profession and early retirement didn't interest me, but it would have been nice to have the option a few years earlier than I did.

The biggest surprise for me so far in retirement is how much I enjoy owning my own time and how little it takes to fill up my days.

-SB

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:22 pm

I have not made any mistakes that I can think of. I did two things in retirement that work very well for me and that most people do NOT do:
1. I moved to within a walking distance from D.C.
2. I continue living without a TV.

Earlier today, I attended panel discussions at Brookings Institution. During a break I chatted with a woman sitting next to me. She too has moved from a low-cost area to D.C., because it's more fun here. Thus, I am not unique in doing thing #1, but the "common wisdom" is to move to a low-cost low-tax area after one does not need to live near one's job. The flip side of living in a low-cost place is that one gets a boring retirement with TV serving as a major source of entertainment.

This brings my thing #2. Without the seduction of TV one is more active, proactive, and happy in retirement.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Prudence » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:37 pm

cresive wrote:Hello All,

I am not sure if I am posting this question in the correct forum, but here it goes. I would LOVE to hear from people who are just entering retirement, as well as those who are 5-10 years in. I would like to ask them two questions: 1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's. 2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off. Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

When you answer, please skip the "I wish I had saved more/earlier" as that is a given. I would really be interested in any information that may not be commonly purported in the "retirement" literature. If this question is a repeat, I apologize, but I am sure it is worth revisiting from time to time.


Biggest mistake was not allocating enough to equities when I was working. If I had known then what I know now, I would have had close to 100% stock in investment portfolio, since I was pretty sure at that time that I would not be touching these funds until retirement.

Second mistake was not investing in index funds. I bought and sold individual stocks and probably lost money overall.

Best thing (due to luck, not smarts) was working for a great mega corp until age 70 with great compensation, benefits, profit sharing, and defined benefit pension plan. The security and financial benefits were, frankly, unexpected. My last five years were probably the best because the people were great. (BTW, I recommend working as long as you can and saving as much as you can).

Biggest surprise is that I am never bored and enjoy not working now.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by GerryL » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:53 pm

Retired 2.5 years ago.

Mistakes: I don't dwell on things I can't change -- i.e., the past -- so I can't think of any major mistakes that would have impacted my ability to retire. I'm sure there were some things I could have done better, but fortunately I didn't do anything lethal.

Did right?
I spent most of my early years bouncing around. Travelled in Europe and worked as an au pair. Did a stint in the Air Force. Back to bouncing around Europe. Finished college. Lived in Japan. Was generally in low-paying jobs with gaps in employment as I moved between or across continents. But I always lived within my means. Perhaps I was lucky that going into debt was never even an issue since no one was likely to give me credit.
I was almost 40 when I started thinking about settling down. I hit a few rough patches when it got harder to find a job and was unemployed for more than 18 months at one stretch just after I bought a house with a 10%-interest mortgage. I ate a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but I never broke into my "retirement" savings. I wasn't necessarily thinking about retirement, but I knew that long-term savings needed to be sacrosanct. When I finally got the job I eventually retired from and saw my income growing nicely over the years, I continued to live more modestly than I needed to. I never felt I was depriving myself ... and I remembered how quickly the gravy train could run dry.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by fourwheelcycle » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:57 pm

My biggest mistakes and smartest moves are much clearer now that I am retired.

Biggest mistake - choosing loving parents who did not leave me any money but did leave me a receding hairline.

Smartest move - marrying a wonderful woman who always keeps me on my toes, had no inheritance but lots of human capital, and spends and saves money just like I do (BH style).

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by invst65 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:31 pm

cresive wrote:1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.


Not being more financially savvy about investing for the long term (mostly before my 50's). I made a big chunk of money investing in "Aggressive Growth" funds during the dot.com bubble only to see it all go down the drain, never having the sense to take a portion of the profits and put it in safer investments.

cresive wrote: 2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.


I worked hard at my job and became the best that I could be in my chosen career.

cresive wrote:Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?


That the arthritis in my neck and back from sitting in front of the computer all those years was a lot worse than I thought and I can't be as active as I hoped.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by blueblock » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:15 pm

I retired almost two years ago.

1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.

Younger: I wish I had contributed more than just the matching amount to my 401K.

Fifties: No mistakes. :happy

2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.

Younger: Bought a house that cost well less than I could afford, according to the current wisdom (then stayed put for 20 years because I really liked the place and neighborhood). When I retired and moved, I walked away with a very tidy, tax-free sum that covered my first two years of living expenses in retirement.

Fifties: Not that it was hard to do, but staying the course through the Great Recession had a big payoff.

3) what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

That it took me eight months to fully wrap my head around the fact that I wasn't just on a long vacation, that "not working" is my life from here on out.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by flyingaway » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:46 pm

Mistakes: Spent too much time on work in my late 30s and early 40s, did not pay much attention to investing and taxes. We had to pay AMT for many years, until I learned the true value of 401k vehicles in my late 40s. Bought a big house in 2006 that I now wish to sell every day.

Good things: Always lived below our means. Have a partner who is on board for life.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:47 pm

cresive wrote:Hello All,

I am not sure if I am posting this question in the correct forum, but here it goes. I would LOVE to hear from people who are just entering retirement, as well as those who are 5-10 years in. I would like to ask them two questions: 1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.


Biggest thing was not educating myself about the 401k account into which I was dumping money. I took someone's word for what to invest in, then never thought any more about it. It was my future, after all, I should have paid more attention. Fortunately I'm okay going forward (I think), but I might have been significantly better off if I'd invested a bit better and knew what I was doing. Education (even self-education) pays great benefits.

2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.


Paid loans (car loans, student loans, etc) off as fast as we could. Paid extra on the mortgage.

Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?


The biggest surprise for me was the fact that, even though I spent basically my entire adult life there, I didn't miss the workplace at all. I find that I'm happy staying at home doing the laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc., while DW works another three years. I had 36-plus years of television, and while it was incredible, enough is enough.

I would really be interested in any information that may not be commonly purported in the "retirement" literature.


A very important part of the picture is that you need to find something to keep you busy. I've found that I am busy enough to keep me form being bored just doing the household things, I haven't even (yet) gotten to the projects I promised myself I'd get into after retirement. Of course, it's only been two months, so let's see if I get cabin-crazy anytime soon. :shock:
Anybody know why there's a 20-pound frozen turkey up in the light grid?

delamer
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by delamer » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:02 pm

I have been retired for over a year, but my husband cannot retire for another three years. It is not that we can't afford to have him retire. We'd be comfortable if he retired now. However, if he doesn't get 30 years of service under his pension system, it would be a big hit on our annuitized retirement income -- in the neighborhood of 20%. And we basically are both too conservative to take that hit with only three years of more work needed. (My husband actually feels more strongly about that than I do.)

Because we both were eligible for traditional pensions (although not through the same system), we only saved about 10% of our income while we were both working. In retrospect, if we'd been more aggressive with our savings, we both could have retired a few years ago while taking reduced pensions. The other side of the coin is that we could have safely saved less for retirement and maybe bought that beach house when real estate tanked 10 years ago if we'd understood more about my husband's pension plan.

So, looking back I'd say we either didn't save enough or we saved too much. :?

Having said all that, we also lucked out with our kids both going to in-state public colleges and with me receiving a significant inheritance shortly after I retired. With another $100K (or two) in college expenses and no inheritance, l might be seeing ths all differently.

HIinvestor
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by HIinvestor » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:04 pm

H retired in 2012 and then went back for another 6 months and retired for good 7/2013.

Our biggest mistake was using an expensive financial advisor at Dean Witter for over a decade so we didn't really get to take advantage of the stock market boom that we could have. Our other huge mistake was over-investing in ONE stock rather than index funds.

The thing that paid off well for us was having H stick with his one employer, the federal government and NOT switching pensions from the old CSRS pension to the new TSP pension. We are assured a comfortable pension now and it has a 55% survivorship to me if I survive him. We also get medical insurance for life, with the federal government paying 75% of the premium (unless that changes at some point). The other thing that paid off for us was having me got back to work half and full-time to help pay college tuitions and expenses when the kids were in college, so they could graduate debt-free and we could pay bills out of current income rather than draining savings.

The biggest surprise in retirement is how financially comfortable life is without having tuition and education expenses to pay and having paid off the mortgage for our house. We both have lots of things to keep us busy and engaged--H enjoys doing deferred maintenance on the house and his body. I'm busy running a nonprofit that I am passionate about. We are also enjoying traveling.

Trader/Investor
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Trader/Investor » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:53 pm

Smartest move was opening up an IRA account in the spring of 1993 (for calendar year 1992) and by far the dumbest move was not rolling it all, or at least part, over to a ROTH when they became available in 1997. Maybe off topic, maybe not, but another smart financial move was never *ever* listening to experts and/or conventional wisdom.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Chicken lady » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:31 pm

Biggest mistake: None really :happy I began working when I was 16 years old and continued except for a few years when I was in college.

Smartest move: Sticking with employers who offered pensions and stayed until I was vested (as a minimum) - even when the workplace was not ideal, I was able to find interesting and rewarding parts of my job that made staying worth it. Paid off house early and live debt free.

Biggest surprise: I've been retired since I was 57. I had always been immersed in my work but never felt any regret or desire to return to work. A clean walk-away, it was so easy! I'm living another life that I began working on creating when I was in my 40's.

J295
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by J295 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:38 pm

Mostly retired at 53. Perfect timing for us.

Biggest surprise is we don't concern ourselves with money.

Nearly everything that happens is a surprise which is rather surprising. I thought we would have certain patterns. And while our life has a fine rhythm to it it is an unpredictable adventure.

cresive
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by cresive » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:43 pm

Great Stories! Thank you all for sharing. This is exactly what I was hoping to get when I posed the question.

ddunca1944
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by ddunca1944 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:28 pm

1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's
Not learning enough about investing, particularly asset allocation and risk tolerance


. 2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's
Saving the max we could.

We are now in our 10th year of retirement. We are doing great

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9-5 Suited
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by 9-5 Suited » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:13 am

30 year old checking in - this has been one of the more insightful recent threads on the site for me, oddly enough. A few "hmm didn't think about that" moments to shape my thinking on my own plan. Thanks all!

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Sheepdog
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Sheepdog » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:26 am

Biggest mistake? Nothing to do with finances. It would be my, sorry to say, obsessing for such a long time over a girl who jilted me. And she she ended up divorcing her two husbands. Whew!!!! 8-)
Thank you for that, woman. Look what I got instead...a jewel of a love who put up with me. I was blessed!!!

Any way, on anything else, retirement wise or anything else? Nothing. No regrets. I can't change the past.
Last edited by Sheepdog on Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
People should not say everything they think. They should think about everything they say.

curmudgeon
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by curmudgeon » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:41 am

1) Biggest mistake... not really that big, but when my wife went back to work part time we didn't pay attention to the SIMPLE IRA option she could have used at that small company. We didn't really need the money, and the marginal tax rate on her work was quite high because of my income. We could have done some more backdoor Roth (but I still am not 100% happy with the legal ground for those, so less regrets there).

2) Smart things... generally avoided debt, but used it effectively when needed. Set a comfortable but basic lifestyle as our baseline and only spend on luxuries out of our surpluses. Tried to be efficient in our expenditures; understanding which high-cost things were important to us (living in CA, time together as family), and which ones gave us less value (loaded or luxury cars, high-end travel).

3) Neutral things with impact (they worked out OK for us, but maybe that was mostly luck). Stretched hard to buy a house early. Did some market timing in RE. Did some heavy concentration in individual stocks for a time.

cresive
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by cresive » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:50 am

9-5 Suited wrote:30 year old checking in - this has been one of the more insightful recent threads on the site for me, oddly enough. A few "hmm didn't think about that" moments to shape my thinking on my own plan. Thanks all!



Thank you for your comments. The "hmmm..." moments is exactly why I posed the question. You can learn a LOT from someone's story and I am enjoying the replies I have received so far. I admire you, when I was 30, I still have my twenty-something "I know what I am doing..." mentality. I hope the thread helps you as you read. I wish I had this site when I was your age.

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ruralavalon
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by ruralavalon » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:23 pm

cresive wrote:Hello All,

I am not sure if I am posting this question in the correct forum, but here it goes. I would LOVE to hear from people who are just entering retirement, as well as those who are 5-10 years in. I would like to ask them two questions: 1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's. 2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off. Perhaps a third question would be what was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

When you answer, please skip the "I wish I had saved more/earlier" as that is a given. I would really be interested in any information that may not be commonly purported in the "retirement" literature. If this question is a repeat, I apologize, but I am sure it is worth revisiting from time to time.

1) I wish I had paid more attention earlier. I did not save significantly until my late 30', then used a "full service broker" at a major brokerage, and didn't really pay attention to my investments until my mid-late 50's. Sorry :( , part of that has to be "save more earlier".

2) The smartest thing was not to try to trade in and out of the market, in other words didn't do market timing. I have to credit my broker for teaching me that.

3) I had worked almost continuously since my grade school paper route. I enjoyed my work most of the time. I was surprised at how easily I was able to switch to doing "nothing". I am currently in Florida, sitting on a porch looking out over the Gulf of Mexico, trying to decide if I want to read a book or go somewhere for a nice lunch. Life is full of tough decisions :D .
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Brewman » Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:49 pm

While not yet in retirement, but from the standpoint of someone who is 3-5 yrs away hopefully from retiring and looking back at what I wish I had done differently and what I think I got right:

On the right side – I have always been, relative to my peers, fairly frugal and debt adverse and have always lived below my means. I also learned that it was a lot easier for me to just pay myself first than to try to stick with some type of formal strict budget. Coming from a lower middle class up bringing my parents were pretty good about teaching the value of money and how important it is to save. I also learned to not really care much (most of the time) about what the Jones’s were doing or buying. I also am fortunate to have had only one wife, and one who is also not a big spender. Lastly I found this forum about a year ago and have been learning a lot since! :beer

On the wrong side – I wish I had discovered sooner the value of the phrase I have heard on here many times before “don’t just do something, stand there”……which I translate into get a plan and stick with it, don’t pay too much attention to the ups and downs of the market, don’t chase the latest fad, etc.. Guilty of this early on – buying and trading company stock on a weekly or monthly basis, chasing funds with the hot return, not paying attention to fees, buying silver bullion, thinking I was somehow smart enough to buy and sell individual stocks, etc. :oops: . Fortunately I kept saving the whole time and never allocated a huge amount to these foolish ideas.

I think I always had the beginning of being a boglehead, I just needed more exposure to like minded people to reinforce it…..I could kick myself for not finding this site much earlier - I had read one of Bogle’s books probably at least 10 years ago where I believe he made mention of the forum. I never followed through and checked out the forum :oops: :oops: It was also the book that convinced me that index funds were the right approach and to try and consolidate the holdings I had at probably 7-10 mutual fund companies into the two (three counting my wifes 401k) I have now Fidelity (work 401k), Vanguard for the rest. Simpler is better. I have learned a ton at this site over the past year that I have been checking in, thank you to all the members. :sharebeer

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akblizzard
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by akblizzard » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:03 pm

cresive wrote:
1) Off the top of your head, what was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's. 2) The same question, only in reverse; What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.


My retirement starts in less than 90 days. An obvious mistake was not using the often-stated advice of using a household budget. Starting YNAB.com a few years ago definitely increased our savings rate.
The smartest thing was keeping up with the monthly contributions to 401ks and Roths all those years. Even a little bit adds up over time. Don't sweat it too much if raising a family prevents maxing these accounts out. Increase your contributions each year a little bit.

likegarden
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by likegarden » Thu Mar 02, 2017 7:34 pm

Big mistakes - do not think we made mistakes.
We lucked out that I found employment at a large US industrial company for 30 years until I was 62, then continued part time work there until I was 69. I lucked out that I have a pension from that company. We followed our parent's footsteps by being savers, and have now a portfolio at Vanguard in addition to SS and pension. We live in a medium cost area. We also do not neat great vacations, had those while younger. I came originally from Europe, did also 15 or so trips to Asia on business.

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JDCarpenter
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by JDCarpenter » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:29 pm

akblizzard wrote:...
My retirement starts in less than 90 days. An obvious mistake was not using the often-stated advice of using a household budget. Starting YNAB.com a few years ago definitely increased our savings rate.
....


Congrats on the imminent retirement! We are about 2 months behind you, but took a slightly different path. We have yet to do a real budget since our marriage in 1983 (Yikes, we were young!). We do have a general budget for our first years of retirement: 4.5% of portfolio each year, with 100% spending in excess of baseline nondiscretionary to travel/entertainment/wine/restaurants, but unlikely to do more detailed in advance than that....

OTOH, we've tracked our spending retrospectively from the start and have kept track of expenses on Quicken from the early 90s (mostly with daily transaction downloads)... That retrospective look, along with maxing retirement plans first and mutual desire to retire in mid-50s, steered us to the same point as prospective budgeting, I suppose. In retirement, we'll look after each international expedition to see where we stand, then adjust the planning for the next trip to keep within our limits (plan to be roughly 2 months travel, two months home, etc.)

Two roads to the same end? (We have benefited from very high positive cash flow though....)
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Cyclesafe » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:38 pm

Good:
1) Always maxing out on opportunities to increase tax deferred investments
2) Always living below our means
3) Marrying (and staying married to) someone who was happy with #1 and #2
4) Working as an expat in Asia for 10 years

Bad:
1) Starting investing with IDS (now Ameriprise) and going heavy with variable annuities - subsequently transferred to Vanguard
2) Assuming that working overseas would be good for future career prospects

Ugly:
1) Assuming that it would be easy to get a job after being let go

2comma
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by 2comma » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:42 pm

Along the lines of not commonly purported in retirement literature I think taking an objective look at the financial shape of the companies I worked for and the industry direction has saved me a lot of emotional grief and let me avoid layoffs (gaps in income) which can be devastating to your retirement plans. My first job out of college was with a satellite data communication company. I once read that one fiber optic cable carried more capacity than all of the satellites in the sky. Then when neutron Jack Welch's GE bought out RCA a few of us got together and concluded there was no way our little subsidiary of RCA, which had never turned a profit, would ever survive - there was a reason they called him Neutron! I started actively looking for a new job that week.

The next company was huge in the hotel/motel business but it owned a six casinos. Quickly the casinos accounted for 48% of profits. I took notice and guessed a smart CEO would probably spin off the very profitable casino business. When a large British brewery took interest in the hotel side of the business I had my signal and started looking for my third job. Lucky I did, shortly many were laid off and the rest were relocated to another city and then laid off once all of the corporate systems were combined.

My third mega-corp had been in the fortunate position of being the first in a very profitable new industry with huge impediments for entry but I also knew huge new competitors we're entering the market. I assumed that the glory days of exceptional profits, and benefits, were probably numbered but I also knew they had a good management team that should be up for the challenge. Over time many of the benefits did get reduced or went away, our retirement health plan was frozen in the 1980's, pension plan frozen in 2010's, they had their first layoff ever. The company moved from being a high growth entrepreneurial company to a well established cash-cow where cost cutting becomes the name of the game. I ended up with 25 years of steady employment, most of the pension benefits and a very generous voluntary retirement offer and retire I did. I'm no business major but I knew enough to know or try to guess how your company is positioned for the future and making the right strategic moves in your career can greatly affect your retirement plans.
If I am stupid I will pay.

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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by Cruise » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:00 am

1) What was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.

Young: Not knowing about fiduciaries, Expense Ratios, and a bunch of other things. However, youth is a time for learning, and I eventually learned a bunch.\

Young and 50s: Being so focused on career and family. While this worked out financially and with family relationships, this focus did not allow me to nurture a bunch of friendships, which I wish I had more of today while I have time to enjoy them.

2) What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.

-Work my tail off in college, graduate school, and in my career. There is no substitute for conscientiousness.
-Marry the right lady: Beautiful, more intelligent then me, a great wage-earner whose conscientiousness allowed her to really advance in her career, honest, and frugal (well, not as much as me, but close). Can't emphasize enough how important it is to choose the right life partner if you want to be sane as well as financially independent.

3)What was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

How quickly I went from fast-forward to slow-mo, and am enjoying it immensely. I was helped along by a few things:

-Brother-in-Law's advice to schedule only one chore a day
-Sold my business, but still had to provide consultation for a period of time. That helped in the transition, much more than going from 110 to Zero.

Good luck in your journey.

cresive
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by cresive » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:11 am

Cruise wrote:1) What was the biggest mistake(s) you make with regard to your retirement when you were young, and when you were in your 50's.

Young: Not knowing about fiduciaries, Expense Ratios, and a bunch of other things. However, youth is a time for learning, and I eventually learned a bunch.\

Young and 50s: Being so focused on career and family. While this worked out financially and with family relationships, this focus did not allow me to nurture a bunch of friendships, which I wish I had more of today while I have time to enjoy them.

2) What was the smartest thing you did when you were younger and in your 50's that is really paying off.

-Work my tail off in college, graduate school, and in my career. There is no substitute for conscientiousness.
-Marry the right lady: Beautiful, more intelligent then me, a great wage-earner whose conscientiousness allowed her to really advance in her career, honest, and frugal (well, not as much as me, but close). Can't emphasize enough how important it is to choose the right life partner if you want to be sane as well as financially independent.

3)What was the biggest surprise you found after you entered retirement?

How quickly I went from fast-forward to slow-mo, and am enjoying it immensely. I was helped along by a few things:

-Brother-in-Law's advice to schedule only one chore a day
-Sold my business, but still had to provide consultation for a period of time. That helped in the transition, much more than going from 110 to Zero.

Good luck in your journey.



I like the One chore a day rule. I hope you don't mind if I use that myself! You have a good story! Thank you for your reply

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tennisplyr
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Re: Question for Retired Members--life mistakes

Post by tennisplyr » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:24 am

Retired 6 years and in our midsixties. Never really had a "plan" for retirement but always respected money in my earlier years. My belief, life has a way of working out as long as you keep trying....never give up. Had basically no money in my forties as I was trying to keep up. Life goes very fast....enjoy every day, don't be afraid to take some risks and be thankful for it all...good and bad.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

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