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1. Regular lavish travel

The first years of retirement can be a never-ending vacation, but endless expensive trips can create a serious crack in your nest egg.

Travelers tend to underestimate daily costs, such as meals, tips, resort fees, costs of excursions, airport costs and more, as well as paying for someone to care for your home while you’re gone.

A four-day vacation within the U.S. costs on average $144 a day, while a 12-night international jaunt costs around $271 per day, based on analysis from ValuePenguin.

And several big trips at the start of your retirement means big withdrawals that limit the growth of your investments for the next 20 or 30 years. That can mean you’ll have less to rely on when health care expenses typically rise.

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2. The dream home

It seems like a reasonable reward to retire to the house you’ve always wanted, but a dream home can become a financial nightmare. After the initial expense, you’ll need to continue spending big on upkeep, maintenance and repairs that will eat into your retirement savings.

And you may end up moving anyway.

A 2021 survey from the National Association of Realtors found that, among people between 66 and 74, 16% would move because of life changes such as a birth, death or marriage; 25% for a change in a household member’s health and 8% would move to downsize.

3. A luxury car, boat or RV

Whether it’s a fancy boat, a sleek sports car or an opulent recreational vehicle, these fancy toys come with a hefty price tag. Then there are expensive and frequent maintenance, storage and auto insurance costs.

Don’t forget about operating costs, either: RVs quickly burn through expensive diesel fuel, a Maserati won’t run on regular and boats need a marina slip to call home.

And while fun, these purchases rapidly depreciate in value. And the eventual physical limitations of aging can make operating them just plain uncomfortable.


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4. Too much financial help for adult children

A 2020 Merrill Lynch study found that 79% of parents of early adults offer them some financial support. But more shockingly, what they spend on their adult children is twice as much as what they set aside for their own retirement.

And once the pandemic hit to disrupt everyone’s finances, 71% of retirees in an Edward Jones study said they’d be willing to jeopardize their own financial future to help their family.

Before heading down that path, any financial adviser worth their salt will remind you to put on your oxygen mask first. Set firm financial boundaries or you’ll drain your retirement assets and may end up depending on them for support.

Instead of making withdrawals from your account, set the kids up with a budget or debt counselor, a career coach or even therapy.

5. A vacation, resort or second home

Vacation homes are often in coveted locations, which generally means not only will the home and taxes be expensive, so will services and the cost of living, too.

And besides having two places to insure, heat and maintain, you’ll need someone to take care of whichever property is empty. And then there’s the cost and hassle of traveling between two homes.

You may find as you age, your dream locale loses its appeal, whether because you get tired of the place, find it hard to find the health care or services you need or that remote getaway is simply too far from your family.


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About the Author

Brian J. O’Connor

Brian J. O’Connor

Freelance Contributor

Brian J. O’Connor is an award-winning personal finance journalist featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and other outlets. He was the financial editor and columnist for The Detroit News and founding managing editor of Bankrate and a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University.

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