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3 Common Retirement Regrets, and What to Do About Them

By Maurie Backman - Jan 20, 2021 at 7:18AM

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Kicking yourself for these oft-made mistakes? Here's your plan of attack.

Some people leave the workforce and wind up celebrating every minute of their newfound freedom. But what if the opposite ends up happening to you? What if you retire only to regret it after the fact? Here are a few reasons that could end up being the case, and how to address each one.

1. You didn't save enough

It's a good rule of thumb to close out your career with 10 times your ending salary in a retirement savings plan. That way, you can nicely supplement the income you receive from Social Security.

If you didn't retire with enough money and are feeling financially squeezed, try finding part-time work to boost your income. If you're not comfortable working outside your home right now, look at remote options. Former teachers, for example, are optimal candidates for online tutors, which a lot of parents need for their children these days.

Older man seated on coach closing eyes and pinching nose

Image source: Getty Images.

You can also address the issue of inadequate savings by moving to a less expensive corner of the country. And if you're hesitant to do that (say, you like living near family), you can instead look at downsizing to a cheaper home that costs less to maintain.

2. You planned poorly and now you're bored

Many people retire without a plan that maps out how they'll spend their newfound free time. And that, in turn, could lead to a host of issues ranging from basic boredom to actual mental health problems.

If you're having a hard time filling your days, try finding a job. Not only will it give you something to do, but it will also put added income in your pocket so you have the option to spend more on entertainment. You can also try volunteering for an organization you support, taking classes online, or getting out more and exploring nature (which, incidentally, is another budget-friendly activity).

3. You underestimated your healthcare costs

Many seniors are shocked to see how much they're forced to spend on healthcare during retirement. If medical bills are busting your budget, one option is to shop around for a better Medicare plan during fall open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 each year. Finding the right Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan could shrink your costs substantially.

And speaking of Medicare Advantage, if you're currently enrolled in a plan that's costing you more than expected, you can switch to a different Advantage plan between now and March 31. Or, you can revert to original Medicare if you think it will be more cost-effective for you.

At the same time, be sure to take advantage of the free services you're entitled to under Medicare, like annual wellness visits and certain screening tests. Getting ahead of medical issues could help you avoid more expensive ones down the line.

Don't let yourself be miserable

You deserve a rewarding retirement that brings you joy, so if you're struggling with your decision to leave the workforce, it's time to address it. A few simple moves could help you enjoy the rest of your senior years without being held back by regret.

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