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10 retirement derailers

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

You've done retirement planning right.

You're between ages 50 and 70, and you have more than $100,000 in investable assets. At this point, retirement should be smooth sailing -- right?

Not so fast. According to an Ameriprise Financial study of people who met the above criteria, 90 percent say they have already encountered at least one "retirement derailer" that cost them an average of $117,000 in savings.

Here are the most common derailers and the percentage of people who experienced them.

  1. Low interest rates meant slower-than-planned asset growth: 63 percent.
  2. Market declines caused by recession: 55 percent.
  3. Lower home equity than expected: 33 percent.
  4. Supporting grown children or grandchildren: 23 percent.
  5. Pension plan not worth as much as anticipated, or discontinued: 23 percent.
  6. Bad investments caused loss of some savings: 22 percent.
  7. Began collecting Social Security before retirement age: 19 percent.
  8. Job loss: 18 percent.
  9. Inheritance was less than anticipated: 17 percent.
  10. Spent a lot of money on home repairs: 15 percent.

Some 55 percent of those whose retirement has been derailed say the impact has been extremely or somewhat serious, but only 35 percent say that it will affect their ability to pay for essentials.

While 56 percent blame their troubles on somebody else, 80 percent believe they must rely on their own efforts to get back on their feet.

What would they have done differently in order to avoid these derailing experiences? The steps they would have taken aren't surprising.

  • Started saving earlier: 57 percent.
  • Worked harder to learn about investing: 37 percent.
  • Spent less on luxuries such as eating out and taking vacations: 33 percent.
  • Created a written retirement plan: 29 percent.
  • Used credit more wisely: 25 percent.

As my mama used to say, hindsight is 20/20.

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