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Myths About Retirement Financial Planning 

Not all retirements look the same — consider options that make sense for you

By Acts Retirement-Life Communities
A couple meeting with financial advisor. Next Avenue
Credit: Getty

Planning for retirement is of the utmost importance. After all, you need to ensure you have enough financial resources to enjoy yourself. Yet there's a lot of uncertainty and doubt about just how much you need to save and how you should be saving, leading to the rise in a number of myths about retirement financial planning. Here are just a few of the most common ones that you need to look out for, as well as their actual reality. 

Myth: You Need to Save X Number of Dollars Before You Retire 

Human beings are complex. They have varying needs and wants, and that extends into their retirement plans. That's why saying that you need to hit a specific dollar amount before retiring is too arbitrary; if you're the kind of person who wants to live a modest retirement, your annual expenses are going to be much lower than someone who wants to live more extravagantly. The goal is to save enough to maintain the lifestyle you desire, and that's something you can't put a one-size-fits-all number on. 

 Here is what you can do: decide the type of retirement life you want to have. Does it include non-stop cruises? A daily tee time? Bi-weekly intercontinental flights to visit your family? Or is it settling into a retirement community and enjoying the amenities, activities and dining already provided at no extra expense? Start there — with your retirement plan — before determining how much you need to make it happen. 

Click here to read the article Can I Afford Retirement?  


Myth: You'll Only Have 70% to 80% of Your Pre-Retirement Expenses 

Here's another income myth that never seems to go away. It's not uncommon to hear that, because you're no longer paying payroll taxes or making 401(k) contributions, you'll have some extra income as a result. Fewer expenses equal more money in your pocket! Yes, that's true, and can be amplified further by downsizing your home, removing extra maintenance, energy and other costs. But let's not forget that your lifestyle isn't staying exactly the same. Perhaps you do intend to travel more now that you don't have a 9-5, or you can finally dive back into some long-lost hobbies. Those are going to add to your budget at the same time that your previous expenses dissipate. 

This is why it comes back to planning for the type of retirement you want, and ensuring all aspects are covered. Now that you aren't commuting you may save on gas, tolls and car care, but maybe you also intend to buy a boat to spend your retirement fishing. Your expenses just increased instead of decreased. So maybe sell the car? The point is: think about it in advance.  

Click here to read the article How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? 

Myth: All You Need to Do is Max Out Your 401(k) Contributions to Save for Retirement 

Let's be clear: a 401(k) is a great retirement savings plan. It builds wealth while also reducing your taxable income as you save. Yet even maxing out your contributions every year isn't going to get you as far as you think; as of this writing, 401(k) contributions are capped at either $19,000 a year for investors under age 50 or $25,000 a year over age 50. Considering your salary will shift to Social Security (and if you're really lucky, a pension), you're simply going to need more than your 401(k) if you want to maintain your current standard of living or something close to it. 

That means diversify your retirement savings, such as a brokerage account, to supplement. 

Myth: Haven't Saved Enough? Just Keep Working! 

Not all of us are workaholics interested in working well beyond age 65. But some of us have been led to believe we'll have to in order to afford retirement. But you can't enjoy retirement if you work through it. Yes, you can absolutely get a part-time job, either to supplement some income or to keep busy and engaged, or both. But with increased health concerns as we age, and volatile job environments for seasoned workers, the better option is to save more earlier, be it higher 401(k) contributions or elsewhere, so that when you reach retirement age, you can actually retire.  

Click here to read the article How is the Average Cost of a Senior Independent Living Community? 

Myth: Conservative Investments are a Must During Retirement 

We get it: retirement hits and you're on a fixed income. You have what you have and not a penny more. It's common to feel like your retirement success is tied to market volatility much more than it was before you retired. It's scary to tap into your financial reserves after you've been relying on your work income for decades. It's become "conventional wisdom" to invest heavily in more conservative investments like bonds, but these aren't always the best choice. The truth is that with people frequently living longer, retirement portfolios need to last longer as well — and conservative investments like bonds often provide yields that are simply too low to maintain your lifestyle for as long as you need. That's why you may want to remain diversified longer. Of course, you should consult with a licensed financial advisor before making any such decisions.  

The Last Word on Financial Planning and Investment Advice 

Hopefully this article has shed some light on common beliefs that are actually myths, or at the very least may not be accurate for your particular circumstance. Appropriate planning for retirement requires you to seek out investment advice that's tailored to your specific circumstances and goals. Since each person's needs, earning capacity and desires are completely different, there are no easy answers, no set thresholds to hit that will guarantee success, no perfect, fool-proof formula that you can follow without fail for a comfortable retirement. Instead, you've got to do the work yourself, and do it as thoroughly as possible, if you want to ensure you have enough savings for retirement.  

Additionally, there's no guarantee that you're going to need the same amount of savings from one year to the next. If you get a pension, or you inherit property or resources from a deceased relative, all of these events will change your requirements and the way you need to prepare for retirement. This is why you should take broad-based retirement planning with a grain of salt before examining it and understanding why the advice may or may not work for you. The retirement finance landscape is in almost constant flux, so always seek the help of a qualified and experienced financial planner for the best advice!  

For more information on retirement, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities: 

Acts Retirement-Life Communities
By Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit

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