Nobody likes to look back on life and feel regret. And with that in mind, here are a few common regrets I hear from retirees. My hope is by sharing what other people have regretted, we can learn from them and avoid these regrets in our life.
- Regret: Not including both spouses in the retirement and financial planning process.
This is a biggie. Both spouses must be engaged and “buy in” to the plan. It’s surprising how few people—even those in long-term marriages—have sat down to dream and design their life together. For those who just started planning together as they neared retirement, many told me they regretted not planning together earlier in their life. This alone is a priceless gift. Start planning now!
- Regret: Not downsizing sooner.
The big house is nice when kids are living at home, but when it’s just two people sharing a big space, it can seem empty. When my clients downsize, they often seem “lighter” and freer. With less stuff to manage, they have more time to do the things they want to do instead of handling maintenance and overseeing repairs. Is now a good time to look into downsizing?
- Regret: Not keeping up with technology.
Facebook, texting, Facetime, streaming movies, there are so many ways to communicate with people and amuse ourselves online these days. I sometimes see older people regret that they did not keep up with technology because it’s harder for them to communicate with their grandkids. Few young people today spend much time “talking” on their phones. Instead, they’re all over social media sites and for older people who are not adept at that, they frequently miss out on keeping up with their grandkids’ lives. If you’re in this situation, ask your kids or grandkids to give you a lesson in how to use technology to keep up with their lives. And maybe you can “friend” them on Facebook or “Snapchat” with them. You’ll be the cool grandparents!
- Regret: Not retiring sooner.
While as many as one-third of retirees were forced to retire earlier than planned (often due to health reasons), those who can choose to retire on their own schedule occasionally regret working too long. Some people I work with kept putting retirement off and then when they finally decided to break free, we had a good “life after career” plan in place and they loved their new lifestyle. Their only regret was, “Why didn’t I retire sooner?” If you think early retirement sounds good, let us know and we can review your numbers to see if it makes sense.
- Regret: Not paying more attention to health.
It’s easy to take good health for granted—until we don’t have it. Everybody knows the basics of taking care of yourself and while that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be healthy at 100, it increases your odds. I have clients who didn’t take their health seriously until they retired and once they got on a health track, it was incredible for them. Whether it’s bike riding, nature walks, or going up and down stairs, taking care of your health could make your retirement years much more golden.
- Regret: Spending too much in the early years of retirement.
It’s easy to fall into excessive spending in the first few years after retirement and spend money on travel, kids/grandkids, and a luxury good or two. But without an eye on the future, overspending right after retirement could set you up for some pain down the road. We always encourage our clients to enjoy their wealth as long as it’s within their means. Nobody likes to have the “you’re spending more than you can afford” conversation.
When you’ve been in the financial planning business for more than 20 years like I have, you come across many situations of people who have not planned well for their retirement years. I hope that by sharing a few of the regrets I’ve seen people have, you can design your own retirement life that is filled with happiness, good health, meaning—and no regrets!
If you have any questions about this, please give our office a call.
About Bill Keen
Bill Keen is the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, an independent Registered Investment Adviser serving affluent clients preparing for retirement and the host of the Keen On Retirement podcast. Bill has more than 20 years of financial services experience and holds the CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR designation. Bill created Keen Wealth Advisors to build one of the country’s most personal and trusted wealth and retirement advisory firms. He is passionate about serving his clients as a trusted financial coach.