Alan Haft is the president of 5th Avenue Financial, a financial planning firm based in Boca Raton, Florida. He is a pretty savvy guy when it comes to financial planning and recently set forth what he considers the five biggest financial retirement planning mistakes that Baby Boomers make. At the outset, he says that most Baby Boomers, and even retirees, realize rather quickly that their so-called bulletproof retirement savings plan is actually riddled with bullet holes. To Haft, living longer could mean outliving nest eggs that were intended to secure that financial comfort zone. Haft is well known in helping the wealthy become even wealthier and the not-so-wealthy achieve financial security. “Most of what I’ve seen in the industry in terms of poor retirement planning,” he says, “involves improper guidance or self-guidance, and a lack of foresight.” Here are what he considers the five biggest mistakes in such planning: 1) It’s Too Late to Start Planning. Once you reach your 50s or 60s, many people think that the parade has passed them by. But Half points to the power of compounding, boosted by the tax-deferred growth offered by IRAs, 401(k) plans, and the like. So, building up that nest egg may not be too late. 2) Underestimating Life Expectancy. He says studies show that some 20 percent of workers expect their retirement to last 10 years or less but according to the 2000 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), half of the men reaching age 65 have an additional life expectancy of some 17 years while half of the women reaching that age are spun out 21 years. 3) Miscalculating Needs. Most financial planners say that you must plan on needing 60-85 percent of your pre-retirement income in your retirement years. According to that EBRI survey, only 53 percent of workers have tried to determine how much money they’ll need in retirement. 4) Looking at Inflation. Many investors, Haft says, particularly older ones, are uncomfortable with market volatility. They invest solely in Treasury bills, fixed-rate CDs, and savings accounts. He feels it is important to consider keeping some money in growth investments such as stocks and stock mutual funds. 5) Putting Other Financial Goals First. Haft points out that to many people, retirement probably isn’t the only financial goal--not when you may be saving for a child’s college education or for a down payment on a second home. But he cautions not to place them ahead of a financially secure retirement. Of course, easier said than done.
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