The Investigators

Jul 17, 2012 1:00 AM

Common financial mistakes seniors make

TUCSON - Think you'll have enough money to retire, when that time comes?

The odds of enjoying a comfortable retirement are against you these days, for a lot of reasons. Unlike your parents' generation, it's up to you, not your employer, to prepare now and avoid the financial pitfalls that can swallow your retirement dreams.

Susan Smith took the giant and scary leap into retirement six years ago.

"I guess it's the uncertainty, just how your life might change, and do you have enough to move forward," she said to News 4 Tucson Investigators about retiring.

Before she embarked on a real-life game of life, Smith did her best to avoid the risky road, and found a safe route. she'd saved aggressively in her 401k late in her working years, and got help from a financial pro before retirement. They helped her plan and make sure her money would last as long as she needed it.

"Unfortunately, it really does now fall on our shoulders, each individual, as far as your own retirement plan," said Tiana Ronstadt of Power Women Investing. She says many people fail to save enough in IRA's and 401k's before retirement. That's bad, she said, since old-style pensions from your employers aren't there anymore.

She says many seniors don't start saving soon enough, and don't educate themselves about money matters, then they underestimate their expenses and needs after retirement.

After all, we're living longer, and we want and need more things than our parents did that are more expensive: cars, electronics, and medicine, for instance.

Tiana helped Smith plan for this part of life by taking a hard look at her potential sources of retirement money. She has a home-based business making bead jewelry, but was there enough in her 401k, Social Security, and savings for her to meet her expenses for the next 30 years or more. It turned out that Susan was ready.

"I could just get up in the morning and do whatever I wanted," Smith said. "I could go on the trip with my husband. And I thought, am I going to miss my friends at work?"

Things worked out well for Smith, but everyone's situation is different, and there are so many variables at play: divorce, the death of a spouse, adult children in need. That's why financial pros urge you to save as best you can. Educate yourself, and get their help before you jump into this serious game of real life.


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