8 ways to ruin your chances to retire

If 50 is the new 30, then 80 must be the new 60. Good thing, because otherwise a lot of people won't be retiring before they draw their last breath.

Last year Bankrate's Financial Literacy survey found that one in five people expect to work until they die. This year one in five people say they're afraid they'll never be able to retire. It's true; we asked the same question two different ways, and the results are unsettlingly identical.

At this rate, the competition for greeting jobs at Wal-Mart will be as fierce as the struggle to get into Harvard.

For the dedicated workers who aspire to devote their entire lives to propelling the economy forward with their unceasing toil, the dream of not retiring can be achieved in any number of ways. We came up with eight.

1. Spend too much 

The most obvious way to ensure that only death's sweet embrace will release you from the bonds of employment is simply by saving nothing and spending a lot.

Spending more than you should on things you feel you need, but could easily live without, is an effective way to mess up your retirement plan, says Ralph Lunt, a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Consultant at Strategic Capital Advisors in Cleveland.

Vacations, new cars, expensive home remodeling can all feel like necessities. "You have to ask, can I afford it?" says Lunt. "Then you have to crunch the numbers -- and maybe if you cut back in other areas you can afford it -- maybe skipping a vacation or not eating out so much."

If you don't want to retire, skip the self-assessment and get out that credit card!

2. Save little or nothing 

In America, spending is in our collective DNA, but saving is not.

For the slackers who think they might want, or even need, to quit working at some point, most experts recommend saving for retirement in a tax-advantaged plan, for instance, a 401(k). Further, workers should contribute, at minimum, enough to get the match offered by their employers, if they offer matching contributions.

Some experts contend that just contributing the match is not enough at all and the contribution should be upward of 10 percent. "It's always, 'Yes, I'll put in enough to get the match, but that's it,'" says Dallas-based Certified Financial Planner Chanc Woods, a member of the Financial Planning Association.


"Why not put in another 2 (percent) or 3 percent? It won't affect your take-home pay that much," he says.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual survey released in April found that 22 percent of workers surveyed have not saved at all for retirement -- or for anything else for that matter.

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