Retirement can be a great reward for decades of hard work, saving and investing wisely. But unless you’re particularly wealthy, retirement is often built upon a relatively fragile financial foundation. One major mistake can bring your retirement plans crashing down. Avoiding the following mistakes can help preserve the retirement you’ve worked so hard to build.
Co-signing on Your Kid’s Loan
You’re nearing retirement, you’ve built good credit, and your child asks you to co-sign a mortgage on the house of her dreams. Although you may want to help, the danger is that if he or she can’t keep up with the monthly payments, then you’re liable for the payments. As you approach retirement, your focus should be on eliminating debt, not taking on more while on a fixed income.
Raiding Your Retirement Funds
Borrowing from your 401k can be a tempting option, especially when the interest rate to borrow is low. However, you actually lose more because you miss out on earnings you may have gained had you left the money in the account. You may also have to pay taxes and/or penalties on the money you receive depending on your personal situation.
Having Too Much Debt
Not only might it be hard for you to make payments on your debt on a limited income, but it will also impact your credit and make it harder to get a loan should an emergency arise. A reasonable amount of debt can be OK in retirement, some financial advisors say; the key is to keep it manageable. If you’re concerned you might have too much debt, consider using a financial debt calculator and come up with a plan for paying down your debt before you retire.
Having No Credit
While having unmanageable debt is burdensome, some of the older generation have proudly avoided debt to the extent that they don’t use or own a credit card. While this can be great in many ways, it can hurt if life throws you a curve ball and you need to borrow money. Not having an active credit history may make it harder or more expensive to get a loan when you need it.
Not Checking Your Credit Report
Identity thieves have been known to target seniors because they often have more disposable income and good credit histories. For this reason, it is important to check your credit report at least quarterly so you can spot suspicious activity early.
There’s nothing worse than finding your dream home and not qualifying for it because of activity on your credit report that could have been handled prior to submitting the loan applications. However, in that scenario, while you’d be denied, you’ll also be saving thousands of dollars with the opportunity to clean up your credit for another round with your banker. Once that process has been completed then you’ll be ready to take another stab at the process.