The ten worst retirement planning mistakes

Paul Clitheroe reviews the ten biggest retirement planning mistakes.

The ten worst retirement planning mistakes, resources, finance, Paul Clitheroe, ipac, financial planning, living, homes

The onus is on you to get your own planning right. Paul Clitheroe reviews the ten biggest retirement planning mistakes – and why you need to avoid them.

For past generations, retirement planning was something of an after-thought, if considered at all. It was simply a case of paying off the family home, tucking away a few shares, bonds and some cash and relying on the safety net provided by the age pension to get by. But in the twenty-first century, this is no longer enough. In fact, industry studies suggest many couples plan to live on more money ($30,000 pa) than the Age Pension currently provides (around $19,000 annually).

So, the implication is, if individuals want to live well in retirement, the onus is on them more than ever to start saving as early as possible, establish their retirement goals, to evaluate the myriad of investment options and be aware of the risks involved. At the same time, with this greater investment complexity, it’s also possible for investors to get confused and make mistakes that can affect retirement savings. In this article, I will look at some of the more common investment mistakes, the signposts to look out for and strategies for turning mistakes into winners. Let’s start by looking at probably the most common mistake, “Failing to Plan”.

1. Failing to plan for your financial future

“Fail to plan, plan to fail” is just so true when it comes to investing today. In fact, the recent ANZ Survey of Adult Financial Literacy in Australia, said only about 37 per cent of adult Australians had worked out how much they needed to save for retirement. Look, the money just won’t appear in your bank account the day you retire and this is where a financial plan is so important. It is q bit like a road map that indicates where you want to go (a comfortable retirement) and the best way to get there. The plan should contain investment advice and information about the level of risk attached to your investments. A good plan will also address issues like what insurance you should consider, your taxation position, cash flow (budget) as well as any retirement and estate-planning issues.

2. Not having a budget

Put simply, budgeting is the most effective tool there is to get and keep your finances under control. A budget tells you where you money is going, where you can cut back and where you can save. Look, I know there’s no denying cutting back on your spending is difficult when there is so little fat to trim in the first place. But no matter how much you earn, it is a question of taking co troll of your money. And this means managing your cash flow, which can only be achieved through budgeting.

A budget will also give you a much better idea of where you money is actually going. It is estimated that people regularly spend between $50 and $300 each month that they can’t account for. Yet this money could be used to pay off debts like a credit card or mortgage or be added to your retirement savings.

3. Leave your money in the bank

Sure, the bank is a terrific place for your everyday spending money but it’s no good for your investment money. If you really want to stick with the bank, don’t leave money in it, buy shares in it. Shares (and property for that matter) present more risk than cash and in the early days may actually generate little or even negative returns. On the other hand, shares and property generate capital growth over the longer term and returns may be taxed favourably.

4. Panicking at the first sign of trouble

The road to successful investing is fraught with many obstacles, as share-market investors can attest! The successful investor takes minor setbacks in their stride, remembers not to panic and sticks with the original investment strategy. If a quality investment (like shares or property) suffers a decline, it is generally the worst time to sell. Selling will only cost you money. But if you hang on and even buy more during a down-turn, you’ll be better off when the investment recovers.

5. Chasing historical performances

A few years back, the Economist magazine produced some interesting research that illustrates the folly of chasing past performances, The research showed how if an investor started with $1 on January 1 1900 and then hypothetically predicted the best investment market every year up to 2000, the result would be a massive $9.6 quintillion (before tax) windfall. However, if an investor had invested in the previous year’s high-flier (a mistake made by many investors) every January 1, the initial stake of $1 grew to only $783 before tax. The lesson here is don’t take too much notice of past performance and focus more on what could affect an investment in the future.

There are other mistakes investors make too, such as falling for the charms of get rich quick schemes, being swept up by media hype about certain investments and miscalculating the level of risk you are comfortable with. What I mean here is being aware of the maxim: the higher the risk, the higher the return. Many people take on more risk than they are comfortable with to make a quick buck. But when the investment falls short, they’re left in a difficult place financially.

Finally, it is important to be aware of the common investment mistakes, but also if you get it wrong, it’s not the end of the world. Simply learn from it and move on. Alternatively, if you are unsure about an investment move, talking it through with a qualified financial planner could prove to be a smart move. But at the same time, employing the services of a financial advisor is not a sign you can simply hand over holus bolus the responsibility for your money either.

Click NEXT to read the next five planning mistakes

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    19th Jun 2012
    One of the biggest mistakes you can make is listening to so called experts who tell you-before an event has happened (eg GFC) how to invest your Super and then pontificate after the event on what you should have done. We retired when the stock market was sitting on 6800, feeling apprehensive about the future, (even with an adviser and an on-line investment so called expert giving no warning) we cashed in some of our shares and at least now have had the cash to survive on. We live in hope that what is left of our Super in the sharemarket will in the coming years increase in value.
    My warning to those anticipating retirement is do not trust advisers, keep yourself well-cashed up and run budgets and be very wary.
    16th Jun 2016
    Best advice you will ever get Dawn, stay away from Financial Advisors.
    23rd Apr 2017
    Correct Dawn.
    Advisers give out streams of advice, and never ever can or will or have been able to give advice for unknown circumstance s time moves on.

    So their advice is at absolute best , guess work! That's just a fact.
    We thought three or so years ago we had planned and prepared and I believe now got over advice or planning that saw us lose out , in fact a situation that we had, cost us money, where the situation was unavoidable we helped out . You know what I mean. Not the huge amount but enough to see us go down the tubes with finances. We have assets no cash , but are slowly getting back in front, we had no choice.
    But helping family is deemed tough luck, deal with it!

    No matter what the circumstance s are.

    We had planned btw.

    Any how my super is gone, I am lucky to have a relatively small but ok workplace fund that pays me a pension of which I contributed to for decades..
    My wife works part time , and still paying into her super, we will survive. Nothing like we thought though, extremely disappointing when you do have sensible plans and things to do, but thats the modern world where few have lots, and lots have few .
    I can't get a pension, yet, not even part . I have been refused , I must be very wealthy ? I have re applied , we need the help.
    But I am very doubtful, and it shouldn't be this way.
    But advisers like anything can only give out the same old same old, and they are only in general, correct.
    But to read the paper and see advice , and say to yourself I did all this , then find yourself not so well advised , its amazing , I wonder what these advisers get paid to write all this "good " stuff.

    The Governments could stop fiddling with the super rules too. When they change things it means they have lost control of the way they were going in investment of all the billions in super?
    And have to change things around to pay "whatever????" they have made a mistake with.

    13th Sep 2012
    We live in hope that what is left of our Super in the sharemarket will in the coming years increase in value.""""""""Ï did just that and ING lost me sixty thousand dollars in 4 years ,This was Allocated pension ,surely someone was taking risks with my money,when I complained they said I shouldbhave got a financial planner ,I thought being given control of pensioners money they would be more careful than a financial planner,Show me a financial planner who makes their clients money,ING guided me to Retireinvest well 20 yrs ago they lost a bundle for their clients on a French Investment Group and anyhow ING own Retireinvest,I am still with ING but they give me no details of their funds or how much interest they are giving on deposit ,again why would I pay Retireinvest to tell me that they couldnt do as well as my bank deposit at the moment or my Perpetual Industrial Fund over the last 20 years.By the way my original Pension fund was taken over by Mercantile Mutual ,then ING and now ANZ and I wasnt even told .I was originally told by the first fund now go away for 20 yrs ,we,ll work your money ,"""where I wonder ,,,,at the Burswood Casino
    24th Nov 2013
    I agree with nobody.I gave my money to Colonial and they managed to lose more than a half in one year claiming because of depression. They also were supposed to pay me a pension out of the interests instead they pay me by selling my shares and the capital. What was the use to "invest" with them?
    23rd Apr 2017
    Bottom line the share market is a T.A.B. Its a gamble and it runs the world.
    It is a joke. We all know because a small few make billions from it even when they stuff up disastrously , see....GFC.

    My friend has a good pension plan , when retired his money stayed in his Bank stroke centelink, they planned everything. I guess no huge return , but bloody regular and will always be there.

    Its those who hope for easy pickings in a dangerously "chancey" business gamble, and Retirees are sucked in like the unknowing poor buggars they are.
    If your not greedy go for total safety, and, even then watch the bastards!Not because they rip you off , but because even the government run places, are incompetent at times!
    16th Nov 2012
    What most funds fail to do, is to let you know that they can invest in term deposits and necessarily in shares. We were lucky and got out some 3 years ago and our accountant created a SMSF and we invested all our money in various Fixed Term Deposits. We do our own investment with the Bendigo Bank and our accountant prepares the annual tax return at a fee of $550. It is NOT true that you need to have lots of money for it to be of value. Our fund totals around $300,000 and it is economically viable. The advisers push for the big funds as they get commissions. Do your homework, and take no risks.
    Gloria Jean
    25th Jun 2013
    I would be very wary of most financial planners. They will charge you big money to put a plan together and then lose your money once you give them control. My mother was sucked in be a planner who put her money in high risk investments and only wanted the big commissions he was getting until it all came crashing down. The only safe investment is putting your money in the bank and then they don't pay much interest and you still lose.
    Pass the Ductape
    27th Jul 2013
    All good advice - if you can afford to spend your retirement years worrying every day about what's happening to your funds. Not a recipe for long life in my book.

    Use common sense. the cents and the dollars will take care of themselves!

    The advice offered in this article would indicate that that best thing you can do with your money is help make a financial planner secure in their old age - a bit like it was in the gold rush days where the only rich people were the ones who obtained the gold from the miners who did all the work digging it out!
    14th Aug 2013
    I am 62 and have had financial planners for the past 15 years mainly because I did not study up much on how I was being charged, only recently I started to do some sums, and was bowled over how it worked, this is how It appears to me.
    Say you had $1,000,000 in super with a fund manager and were being serviced by a Financial Planner, in retirement you would be being charged 1.2% of your total value under management which would equate to $12,000,
    now the return to you would be 5% income which is $50.000 now you are paying the fund manager equal to 24% of your income, this to me seems as if you are working and paying tax, and the fund would have to earn at least 6.2% to break even, now if you took control of your money and invested in bank, Telstra and food retail type shares you would still average 6.5% return grossed up tax paid at 30% with the possibility of capital growth in the long term, the funds and planners give you an income for so many years and then the money runs out, Am I looking at this too simplistically.
    PS. Even if you put your $1,000,000 in the bank at 5% = $50,000 you still would only be paying $7,797 in tax, $4,203 less than what a fund manager would be charging you.
    These are only theoretical rounded of figures that I am using just as an example.
    What do you think?
    14th Aug 2013
    PS. Not only in retirement but also in the accumulating period as well.
    10th Sep 2013
    You left our one major one. Don't retire before you own your home. Continuing to pay it off on a pension, even on self funding , is very hard.
    23rd Apr 2017
    I own my home , still in strife?

    So I must be stupid.

    or simply stupid!

    The system is what kills, its confusing unfair and allows so called smart arses to get your money to work FOR THEM! hah!
    18th Sep 2013
    And whatever you don't listen to other people, financial oplanners included, just use. Our common sense. If I had done what e Finanacial p,angers had said when I took a redundancy I would have lost all my money. For a $150,000 investment I own a house worth 3/4 million and we've never been well off. I knew I would move and downsize to a cheaper and warmer area and will have half that money to invest in safe investments so I don't have to stress about it. Be realistic about what you actually need. Lots of people have unrealistic expectations made worse by wealthy people like Clitheroe who've probably never had to live on a blue collar wage. And if you can manage it - don't get sick and have to retire earlier than you planned. Life has a bad habit of happening without any help from you.
    25th Sep 2013
    There are Financial Planners and Financial Planners - they are a bit like cars, you find good ones and you find bad ones. I have all my super with State Super hence for a small fee I get free financial advice and have been taking advantage of this for the past few years as I head toward retirement. The advice I have been given has always been good and my fund balance is looking very healthy with the GFC having minimal impact and the minor loss incurred there since being well and truly made up for, thanks to very strategic investments by State Super. The main thing for people to be aware of is to select an investment plan that is not high risk, especially in the last 10- 15 years of your working life.
    Sadly, not all property investments turn out as well as Renny's has. I know a number of people who have been burned by what were supposed to be rock solid investments but which turned out to be little more than a con.
    7th Nov 2013
    I also have a healthy disregard for most financial planners but Paul Clitheroe is one I have a healthy regard for. Every point Paul makes is sound. But I'm into DIY. But just like when we were young we skilled our self to participate in a sport or in a future job so we should do the same for financial health in retirement. Don't spend money on a financial planner who is less than half your age and/or maybe has less than half your IQ; instead spend money on your financial training. And you can go a long way on the journey of becoming financially skilled without spending a single dollar; the world wide web has lots of free training. The ultimate of your financial health in retirement objectives should be to be capable of determining what an investment is worth. It's not rocket science. Then when world investment markets panic you can seize an opportunity to make investments at discounted prices. But the caution is to know your capabilities before backing yourself.
    25th Nov 2013
    Hi Aussieone, great points you make, financial advisers have the training to give advice make sound investments for you but when the market drops as it did with the crashes they also get it wrong and tell you that you are in it for the long term, and they tell you the market will rebound as it always has, and like you have pointed out with a little training and not panic when the market goes down and invest in good quality stocks they will rebound and generally surpass previous highs, all this without paying the fund managers and financial advises what equates to about the same fees as if you were working and paying taxes on your retirement income. about if my figures are correct 20-22% of your retirement income, at 5% income on your total super fund.
    23rd Apr 2017
    Of course he makes sound comments. But they are general , very general, and every one of the 7 billion people living on this earth , are different in circumstance. He can never be correct or incorrect for anybody.
    He can write up good general advice for every one for a fee.
    I bet he's doing ok.
    24th Nov 2013
    I listened at an adviser and I gave my superannuation to an investment society and I lost more than half of my super.I have the rest saved in shares, but I am not happy,no gain.Also I sold my green title house for a smaller strata villa where I pay an unreasonable high levy,have no maintenance and a lot of troubles.When the adviser was consulted for help gave me the slip,used jargon,blaming my lack of understanding of financial matters and worse,causing me too much upsetting.Some people simply do not care .
    23rd Apr 2017
    Begin to care for yourself only. When it comes to money more people are greedy and dishonest the good are in a minority, investment feeds on greed without it advisers can't make money ,and decent ones sometimes can't even make you money.
    8th Feb 2014
    I received an inheritance in 2011. The advisors handling this already for my Godmother were RBS Morgans. I received advice from a financial advisor at Centrelink (I was 65 and half then) but he could not advise which private financial planner I could use. So I went to Morgans who set up a profile.I know very little about stocks/shares/supers however, I have been very pleased with the service, advice, on going service I have received from M organs. Chermside, Brisbane....Even a friendly phone call from time to time.Anything I need to know, I phone, and time is nearly always given to me.I receive up to date reports.
    8th Feb 2014
    Financial advises do give you good advice, but they do get it wrong as well, I have found out the hard way, and for the fees they charge on your total investment, which is around 1.2%, if you work it out it is around 20% of the return in retirement, which is the same as working and paying tax.
    7th Jul 2014
    Become a Financial Planner

    FULL FNS50611 Diploma of Financial Planning $1,450 (distance course) $2,899(Classroom course*call us or click here to find out our latest offer 8 Days.

    In 8 days you will be a Financial Planner for only $1500 and then you can advise yourself. Pffftttt!
    7th Jul 2014
    Thinking some more. This course would be a tax deduction and you could then charge your SMSF ridiculous fees which would also be tax deductible. OTOH you would have to pay taxes on the fees you charged yourself. Plus GST, of course.
    6th Apr 2016

    I could agree more with some financial planners being complete drop kicks. But what this also means is you need to do your research not only regarding investments but also the planner you speak to.

    If my adviser was 20 something and i found out he's only been an adviser for 6 months and working in the industry for 12 months... I'm not going to give him a cent of my money to invest...

    You need to get to know your adviser and what their qualifications are before you start engaging with them.
    14th Mar 2014
    I had no interest what so ever about Super funds etc. but after I turned 60 I realised I needed to get my act together or I would be living on a very modest pension.
    I had my super invested in a modest investment and was getting about a 6 to 8% returns, but when the GFC happened and moved my funds to cash, getting about the same as banks pay on term deposits ( about 4.5%)
    A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the financial advisor for the super fund ( HESTA) and he advised me to move about 50% of my super in to Çore Pool, which is supposedly low risk , but higher returns than Cash.
    This I did and basically over night I lost $3,000. I couldn't believe it could happen so fast.
    Anyway, my gut feeling is to move it all back to cash, which although doesn't earn much, at least it is Safe.

    24th Apr 2014
    Biggest mistake is listening to this lot of nonsense...make your own decisions, and you can retire with as little as $50,000 and still make a profit
    6th Jun 2014
    If Fed Gov't passes the 6% pa indexation of HECS/HELP, should people consider repaying above what's deducted by ATO ?
    15th Nov 2014
    Looking at all the comments from readers, it looks like the biggest mistake would be engaging a financial planner to manage your money.
    13th Jan 2015
    We agree with Johnny. We retired with near no funds and a mortgage but with a wonderful outlook on life and did not want involvement with financial planners. So we took up with a MLM company with a unique product to help thousands of people with serious health issues. No, we are not medical people but do now travel the world helping thousands gain a wonderful quality of life. The main gain is the return of being able to communicate with and help so many people in so many countries. The financial reward is secondary but does give us financial stability even with near continual travelling. So there are alternatives - one just has to step outside the circle at times. We are both in our 70s by the way, have no personal health issues and are having a ball visiting so many wonderful countries.
    13th Jan 2015
    I'm watching you again RobH...please do not start attempting to self promote.
    6th Apr 2016
    Read into the comments a bit more and you'll understand the real mistake is handing over all responsibility to someone else and expecting that you will not need to worry or monitor or take care of your money.

    It's your hard earned money, take responsibility for it.

    Engage with a planner, get their advice, but it's still your choice to act on the advice. If your not 100% comfortable with the advice, don't proceed.
    25th Feb 2015
    I agree with Dawn. All the hype makes one feel as if having a Financial adviser is a necessity.
    We found out the hard way too. I have a copy of the "Smart Investor " magazine dated June 2011. The front cover reads:-
    Boom Baby Boom, as a generation in on their fun.
    It made me so angry. The silent generation got caught, so watch out baby boomers.

    25th Feb 2015
    I agree with Dawn. All the hype makes one feel as if having a Financial adviser is a necessity.
    We found out the hard way too. I have a copy of the "Smart Investor " magazine dated June 2011. The front cover reads:-
    Boom Baby Boom, as a generation in on their fun.
    It made me so angry. The silent generation got caught, so watch out baby boomers.

    22nd Oct 2015
    How the hell can you plan when governments are always planning on making changes????
    28th Dec 2015
    Spend it all or hide it under the bed.

    6th Jan 2016
    It's really important to keep track of your finances as early as possible. You can never start saving too early and every little bit counts. You don't even really have to be a smart investor to get a good bank account open with a decent interest rate and let all the money in there earn interest over interest. There is so many ways of getting a bit of help with your future retirement these days too.

    6th Apr 2016
    All of these comments about not engaging advisers I feel is entirely incorrect.

    If you or your family are feeling sick, you visit a doctor. If your Car is having issues, you take it to a mechanic. If your Pet is ill, you go to a vet.

    But further to this, if after visiting the doctor you continue to do things which adversely affect your health, your going to get sick again! If after visiting the mechanic you don't regularly check the fluids in your car, your car will have issues again! If after visiting the Vet you don't then follow the vets instructions, your pet will get sick again!

    On top of all this, if you dot do some research yourself and make sure you FULLY understand what is going on NOTHING WILL GET FIXED AND NOTHING WILL GET BETTER!

    I understand there are some crap advisers out there, but if you go to an adviser, sign a piece of paper, let them take control of everything and hand over ALL responsibility to this stranger... you will always be doomed.

    People blaming a financial planner for their financial problems need to understand, that just because you visit a financial planner does not mean you have no responsibility for YOUR OWN finances. If you say that an adviser is putting the money in "high risk investments" THEN WHY DID YOU LET THEM DO THAT?

    If the money is in a a high risk investment and you clearly are uncomfortable with it tell him that you do not want your money in a high risk investment, if he keeps pushing... fire him as your adviser. By the sounds of things, people give their money to a financial planner then have no idea what happens to their money... I'm sure if someone wanted to borrow your car you'd ask them where they were going... so when you give your adviser your money/super you are you not asking and understanding where the money is being invested.

    Some of the people who have commented negatively it seems have put their money with an adviser, not taken any responsibility of where it has been invested and if someone bad happens in the markets. They just look for someone else to blame.

    People need to grow up and take responsibility for their money.
    8th Jul 2016
    Well I am totally stuffed!! Have a mortgage, 63 yo, Looks like my job will end after 28 years- Happy days!! NOT!!! - I have no idea where I will end up. Strategy at the moment is if I lose my job - sell my unit, go buy wherever I can afford to own outright - then somehow just try and get a little casual job to get me by. Life is not that good for me and I feel when it comes to retirement and any planning , well thats out the window. Have a small superannuation but that won't last forever. Being divorced - no super from settlement leaves me in a precarious position. BUT I am healthy and so far happy...
    31st Oct 2016
    The worst mistake which has not been mentioned is expecting our Government to do the right thing and not change rules retrospectively. What a bunch of grubs this lot of losers are.Crazy nutter wealthly right wingers with a sense of priviledge whose noses are firmly stuck in the trough. Review tax rates and excesses from the top down, not penalise from the bottom up. I hope all the pensioners who voted for this bunch remember how they were treated when they next vote.
    23rd Apr 2017
    you got it in one Ozetwo...right on the button and they have also put the Australian economy twenty years behind the rest of the world.

    The myth that the coaltion are the best at economic matters has well and truly been disproved. Absolutely incompetent.
    23rd Apr 2017
    you got it in one Ozetwo...right on the button and they have also put the Australian economy twenty years behind the rest of the world.

    The myth that the coaltion are the best at economic matters has well and truly been disproved. Absolutely incompetent.
    24th Apr 2017
    I agree in not trusting financial advisers - they are working to make themselves rich at the expense of clients.
    We lost all our super and savings by trusting a financial adviser. Got some cash back after 2 years of research and help of FOS - but financial planner received no penalties in spite of all the forged signatures on documents borrowing money in our names ( I had the forgeries proven) He is at present still working in the financial services sector !!
    13th Oct 2017
    Don`t have children.
    You will be doing both yourself and the planet a big favour.
    19th Mar 2018
    Consider rolling Super into an Industry Fund ????
    We rolled our Super into Host Plus indexed Balanced Pension over 5 years ago BEST move
    Costs are minimal return is better than any Financial Advisor or Bank promoted Funds, we have spread sheet monitored.

    SuperGuide is Australia’s leading website on superannuation and retirement planning, with more than 4.5 million visits per year, and more than 29,000 newsletter subscribers.

    SuperGuide was founded by Trish Power, (author of Superannuation for Dummies, DIY Super for Dummies, Super Freedom, Age Pension made simple, and many other books on super and investing), and Robert Barnes.

    Table 1: Top 10 Performing Growth Funds for 1 year to 30 June 2017 (%)
    Rank Super fund and investment option 2016/2017 year return*
    1 Hostplus Balanced 13.2%
    2 AustralianSuper Balanced 12.4%
    3 Sunsuper Balanced 12.3%
    3 First State Super Growth 12.3%
    5 Club Plus MySuper/Balanced 12.2%
    6 Intrust Balanced 12.1%
    7 Prime Super MySuper 12.0%
    8 Kinetic Super Growth 11.9%
    8 Cbus Growth (Cbus MySuper) 11.9%
    10 Catholic Super Balanced (MySuper) 11.8%