Spending more than thirty years with clients entering retirement, Don Dirren is extremely familiar with the common pitfalls of saving, investing and spending. He has helped clients understand long-term care insurance, social security taxes, retirement planning and many other aspects of finances that can offer freedom and independence to retired seniors.
How to Avoid Retirement Risk Pitfalls
Most adults leaving the professional world to enter retirement aren’t aware of the common risks threatening their comfortable lifestyle. “It’s devastating when someone works their whole life and doesn’t have enough left for their golden years,” Don Dirren says. “I get to wake up every morning and serve hard-working people who want to protect what they’ve built. There are so many choices to make and scams to avoid. I help people preserve their wealth so they can enjoy retirement and still have something to pass on.”
Dirren says there are a number of steps adults can take to reduce the risk of loss as they begin to approach retirement. Ideally, adults will start these financial practices early on and not wait until they are entering retirement—but, he says, starting now is better than never starting.
Get Professional Financial Help
First and foremost, Dirren recommends getting a professional to guide your finances. You don’t have to have huge wealth or an empire to seek out a private financial planner. Most of the time, the financial planner offered by the workplace is only able to help in a very specific area of the market. Dirren recommends choosing a licensed financial advisor who can help you consider things like:
- Longevity Risk
- Withdrawal Risk
- Required Minimum Distributions
- Essential Expenses
- Market Volatility
- Inflation Risk
- Solvency Risk
- Liquid Assets
- Tax Requirements and Loopholes
Carefully Budget Retirement
Overspending on desires rather than essentials in retirement could deplete your savings and leave you without expected funds. It’s important to budget for what you will spend and then reverse that approach in retirement to spend only what you budget, Dirren says. Working with a professional financial planner is the best way to come up with a realistic number for saving during your working years so that you have a comfortable spending limit once you retire.
You need to be careful to choose a checking account with the right overdraft plan just in case you overspend. Most banks now have apps on the phone that will help you know exactly how much is available if you are down to the wire for any given month. Dirren says seniors should be very careful who they allow to access their money.
Watch Your Credit Reports
Even if you aren’t taking out a loan, regularly checking your credit score will help you catch any sudden dips that could indicate financial fraud or identity theft. Mistakes and errors in the reports could even occur and make it hard to buy things like insurance. Some banks offer credit checking, but you can also request a free credit check directly from the credit bureaus.
Avoid Unsolicited Offers
Most unsolicited offers for warranties, insurance, loans and credit cards aren’t going to offer the best deals. Some of them could even be scams or fraudulent offers. Avoid the phone calls, emails and junk mail that offer you something you haven’t requested.
Never click a link in an unsolicited email—always use the app or website to sign into your accounts, since fake emails will often send you to lookalike landing pages to steal your information.
Know the Signs of Fraud
Immediately report any fraud or theft if you do find yourself victim to a scheme. Many adults are afraid to report or feel embarrassed when they realize they’ve lost money, says Dirren.
If you have to send any amounts of money in or provide any personal information (like SSN or bank number) before signing up, check with your financial advisor to make sure you are pursuing a legitimate opportunity. If someone ever tries to pressure you into providing information by claiming a limited time offer or “winner” situation, you should decline, says Dirren. There are too many scams out there that try to get your information, and scammers are good at pressuring people into feeling like the offer is legit when it’s not.
Some scam artists will call or email, pretending to be a person in authority (like a police officer or the IRS) to demand personal information or money. Another common fraud includes pretending to be an upset relative calling from jail or another crisis situation. Always check with other relatives before sending any money.
Be Careful with Borrowing
Credit cards and reverse mortgages are both common offers for seniors who may be struggling with finances in retirement. Credit card debt can rack up quickly, and reverse mortgages have to be paid back. Carefully research the benefits and risks of borrowing in retirement. Ideally, retirees will have enough savings, investments, pensions and social security to avoid any kind of new borrowing late in life.
Borrowing can’t always be avoided, so Dirren says to make sure you are working closely with a licensed financial guide during this process. He says to find a professional who has great reviews or comes highly recommended.