As business leaders, it’s important to ask yourself: Are you really on track for financially surviving retirement and leaving the legacy you’ve been working so hard for?
Sadly, I’ve found that what many of us think of as golden rules for retirement planning and financial security just don’t work. Either they never did, or they’ve been broken. I’ll admit that even I was a victim of some of these myths when I was a fresh medical school graduate. Since then, I’ve gotten my finances on track and have had the privilege of consulting many high net worth business owners, doctors and professionals on their investments and overall financial wellness. I have seen them get on the right track.
If you want to be able to retire well, on schedule and with something left over for those you care about, I believe you should watch out for these retirement myths:
1. You can tap 4% of your nest egg in retirement every year.
I used to hear the rule that you should plan on and could comfortably withdraw 4% of your nest egg every year once you hit retirement. If you’ve been following all of the other rules of thumb for retirement savings that have been part of the hangover from decades ago, the 4% rule might not be true for you.
There’s one big change that has made the 4% rule a dinosaur: interest rates and returns. Many traditional investments are no longer producing the returns they once did. Yields have been compressing for several years and look like they could continue this path for a while.
So if you deplete your nest egg too fast, you might not have enough residual income from your remaining investments to cover your financial needs and aspirations for retirement. For example, if you were planning on earning 8% or 10% per year, but your yield stays at 4% or less, you’ll need twice as much stashed away to get the same output.
If you can’t supersize your contributions to retirement savings, consider investing in more predictable income investments for some potential big wins. Think startup investments, biotech and the next Facebook.
2. You should pay off your home.
For a long time, racing to the goal of paying off your mortgage was a top priority and considered a good, common-sense move. But I believe it is one of the biggest lies we’ve been sold.
Owning a home can be a smart investment. Investing in real estate can protect you from downside risk and produce consistent income and tax benefits. However, while having no mortgage might help reduce expenses in retirement, you’ll never be free and clear and without housing expenses. You’ll always have maintenance, insurance and rent to the government in the form of property taxes.
It’s good to have an equity cushion in your home. That said, having too much equity could be counterproductive; it invites criminals and risk, and it means underperforming capital. Interest rates are low today, and they could even go into negative territory. In theory, that could mean that the bank would pay you to take out a loan (though USA Today reported that’s unlikely). But if that is the case, use that capital to invest for greater returns.
Note that where you choose to live now and in retirement can make a big difference, too. New York, for example, was ranked the worst state to retire in the U.S. due to taxes, the cost of living and healthcare quality.