20 savings mistakes people make

13. The cars impoverished me

I would have gone without a car. I have owned eight cars in the 21 years I have had my license. If you look at the amount of money I spent on car payments, insurance, upkeep and gas, I could be retired now.
-- Rommel

14. Savings bonds a dud

I had invested in multiple EE savings bonds for my 11 grandchildren. When purchased, I understood they would mature in seven years. Fifteen years later, many still have not reached face value. This is a small thing, I truly regret leaving their money in the bonds. I'm embarrassed to hand the youngest grandchildren $700 when the elder (whose money had been invested for less time than the youngest) received $1,000.
-- D. Whitman

15. Squandered the pension

I had worked in the government for around 10 years and when I left, I withdrew my pension fund and spent it on what then appeared to be necessary things. I would have quite a bit more in my nest egg now, 25 years later, if I had not done that. I encourage everyone, no matter how hard it is, to leave all retirement moneys alone. You may think you need it now, but you will without a doubt need it later on.
-- David L.

16. The lost pension system

If I were told back when I was 18 how important saving for retirement was, I would have started saving a lot earlier. However, I am 49 now and grew up in a time when pensions were the norm and you did not think of saving for retirement, because back then the money was automatically taken out of your check if your job offered a (retirement) fund.

Even today, most people with average and below-average salaries will not be able to save enough for a realistic retirement. For example, let's say you make $40,000 a year. The average person could live off of 75 percent of their final income. Social Security income would account for 25 percent of that, so now you would need another 50 percent of your final salary coming from an income stream of money you saved.

If you're using the 4 percent (withdrawal) rule that most advisers teach you to use, you would need $500,000 to generate $20,000 per year of income. Now we must not kid ourselves. Most people with average incomes in this country will not be able to save that much money.

The more companies do away with their pension plans, the worse things will be in the future. You can bet on that.
-- Ralph

17. Regret investing in the market

I was in the police department for 20 years and retired in 2007. Every paycheck, 15 percent was invested from my check into the deferred compensation, which was invested in the market. Needless to say this was money wasted. It was reduced to less than half after the market problems and has dwindled down to nothing. Now I have retired and, due to the job market, unable to get another job. I was better off just enjoying the money and taking my family on a much-needed vacation. Oh well.
-- Dorothy Wantagh, N.Y.

18. Bad timing decisions

My savings regrets: I would have cashed out of my mutual fund in 1998 and put the cash in CDs/munis. Instead, I let it ride the market down to my original cost.

I also would not have built a new house in 2004, as our first home was paid off so we had no mortgage. I would then have been able to pay for my children's education with the extra cash.

Now they all have student loans.

I am hoping that someday my home will be worth something to someone so I can cash out and downsize. Hopefully it will be paid off before we retire!
-- Brenda Pulvermacher

19. Start at a young age

I would save at least 20 percent of each paycheck since I was 27 and was newly married, in order to invest for retirement. I give this advice to anyone in their 20s who will listen.
-- Kathy Staran, Troy, Mich.

20. Perseverance pays off

I would have started earlier (as soon as I started working) and socked away the maximum and would have continued through present, if financially possible.
-- Elizabeth

How about you? Do you have any regrets about the way you saved for retirement? Please share your thoughts for possible inclusion in a future story. We'd appreciate it if you could also send along your name and hometown.

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Use bonds for school, avoid tax?

Dear Dr. Don, This is a bad news, good news situation that I'm asking about. I just received several Series EE and Series I savings bonds. I am the so-called payable-on-death beneficiary on the bonds. My mom, who purchased... Read more


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