By Melanie Hasty-Grant


After a lifetime of hard work, people feel they should be able to live out their golden years with financial independence. Unfortunately for many, failing to plan means planning to fail. When folks come in to visit with us for the first time, we have them bring a lot of financial information with them. I am looking for what their expenses are, what their debt is, how much they have saved in non-retirement accounts, as well as IRA’s and 401k’s. I want to know about company pensions, their goals for retirement, and expectations about when that will be. My job and my passion is to help them set realistic goals and get on track.

What I am finding is that expectations have risen over the years. Instead of having goals of doing a little traveling, playing with the grandkids, and winning a mean game of dominoes, folks are expecting to maintain their same standard of living and spend as much money as they did during their working years. That is a great goal! However, the planning for that goal should start decades before it needs to come to pass. Folks that start planning too late are likely to face the harsh reality of that dream not coming true. 

The biggest retirement mistakes I see are:

Starting too late and planning too little. The proverbial too little too late definitely applies to the absolute biggest mistake I see in planning for retirement – dwindling saving patterns. More and more, I see folks that have little or nothing put back for retirement. In addition to the turbulent economy, saving for retirement has been further upset by other concerns such as job uncertainty, making ends meet, and making payments for mortgages, debts, health insurance and medical expenses. That being said, I also see an awful lot of just “spending as much as there is until the next paycheck”. 1According to a study done by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) the retirement income deficit (ie: the difference between what people have saved for retirement and what they should have at this point) is $6.6 trillion. Good Grief!

Pensions are going away. For many working folks, they saw their parents retire on social security and a pension. 2Today only one in five people in the workforce has a defined benefit pension. The effects of the loss of this benefit will be stunning. You must save and plan for your own retirement. 3The age for collecting full Social Security benefits is increasing. For folks born in 1960 and later, the age for receiving full Social Security benefits is increasing from 65 to 67. 4Congress cited improvements in the health of older people and increasing life expectancy as the primary reason for increasing the normal retirement age.

The Social Security statements that I have begun to see in my office recently incorporates the addition of the age 70 benefit estimate for delayed retirement credits. Every time I see it, I think . . this is the writing on the wall.

Folks, listen. You must save for your own retirement. I cannot state this enough. At the end of the day, you are responsible for how you will live in your retirement years. We are here for you. If you need help trying to plan for your retirement, give us a call. For more information go to

Melanie Hasty-Grant, Experienced Licensed Professional Counselor and Managing Principal at Waterstone Private Wealth Management.

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