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In-ground swimming pool

Ah, pools. Almost no one thinks about how expensive and time-consuming these babies are to maintain and clean — averaging between $3,000 and $6,000 per year, depending on the type and size, according to HomeGuide. What’s more, you may get little use out of it if you live in a northern climate. (In Chicago, for example, pool-worthy temperatures stick around for as briefly as two-plus months a year.)

It may be worth the effort and cost, though, if you plan on regularly hosting pool parties and family gatherings. And there is the argument that pools can increase a home’s value by an estimated $27,200, according to a HomeLight Spring 2021 report. But how much will it cost to build it? Count on an average of $42,480, which can easily sneak into the $100,000 to $150,000 range for an upscale version.

For avid swimmers, you might consider alternatives like building an above-ground pool, joining a swim club or visiting a nearby beach in the summer.

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Your child’s wedding

Wedding costs have exploded in the last few decades, with retirement-age parents often footing the bill. In fact, many American parents may take on serious financial struggles just to pay for this one day of their child’s life.

The average cost of a wedding ran about $30,000 in 2022, according to a study by The Knot, a $2,000 increase from the year before. With inflation and interest rates still hot, this may run higher and higher. Flying to an exotic location? Cha-ching. Fifteen-piece wedding band playing the “Electric Slide”? Cha-cha-ching.

Think about what truly makes a wedding special: your guests. By all means, make it a day to remember. But if $30,000 represents, say, a down payment on a beautiful home, you could just as well take that plunge for the couple and have a simple-yet-beautiful ceremony at their new abode. Now isn’t that romantic and creative?

A timeshare

Often bought under high pressure from slick salespeople, vacation timeshares always look great on paper — at least the way they're presented. But there’s lots to ruminate first: How often will you really use it? What will you sacrifice to buy it? What will it cost to maintain? (Note: No big-ticket purchase of a physical item comes without maintenance costs.)

What’s more, timeshares are often impossible to sell as they’re hardly worth anything . It’s not a second home, after all, and therefore not technically an investment. It’s an $8.1 billion industry and your piece of it will cost $24,140 per interval, according to data via the American Resort Development Association. And all that may boil down to a few weeks of use a year.

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Life insurance

Life insurance continues to be a controversial topic in terms of its utility. While whole life insurance can certainly be worthwhile during your working years when you have a family to support, when you retire this isn’t necessarily the case.

A far smaller policy might be worth considering, like term insurance. Still, the premiums can explode once you hit your golden years. A healthy 35-year-old who buys a two-year term policy may pay around $430 per year, according to CNN, whereas a 65-year-old could pay around $7,300.

Travel experiences

Many retirees use their freed-up time to travel the world. But there are some clearly indulgent, exorbitant routes that won’t meaningfully expose you to local cultures or the rich variety of global life. Here, cruises are without equal.

Figure airfare costs to arrive at a port — you could’ve just as easily jetted to a vacation spot, right? — in addition to the cost of a room or suite, excursions, experiences, food and drink, plus any extra fees, could quickly amount to thousands of dollars over the course of a seven-week cruise. (And are you paying someone to care for your pool while you’re gone?)

That being said, seven weeks of retiring to a cruise ship may sound like the life. And that’s the thing: it's your life. Our goal here is not to discourage you from making any of these big-ticket buys so much as to sketch things out first and avoid making a bunch of big purhases all at once. Your retirement was the result of a beautifully executed plan. Why not carry that planner’s wisdom into your post-work years?

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Amy Legate-Wolfe Freelance contributor

Amy Legate-Wolfe is an experienced personal finance writer and journalist. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Toronto, a Freelance Writing Certificate in Journalism from the University of Toronto Schools, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University. Amy has worked for Huffington Post, CTVNews.ca, CBC, Motley Fool Canada, and Financial Post. She is skilled at analyzing trends and creating content for digital and print platforms. In her free time, Amy enjoys reading and watching British dramas on BritBox. She is a mother and dog-mom to a Wheaten Terrier.

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