It’s easy to dream about the future, but it’s much more difficult to make a realistic plan to achieve those dreams. This is true of any stage in life. But when it comes to retirement, we find that many pre-retirees make assumptions that are not only untrue in many cases but can prevent them from creating a solid and dependable retirement plan.

While it is always good to hope for the best, we must also prepare for unexpected disappointments. Don’t fall into the trap of making these common assumptions about your retirement years.

“I’ll be able to retire when I’m eligible for Social Security.” The number of retirement-age workers has doubled since 1985. Because Social Security was designed as a supplement to retirement income only, most retirees find that Social Security is not enough to completely cover their cost of living. So don’t just assume that you’ll be able to retire once you can apply for your benefits.

“I don’t have to worry about retirement planning until my fifties.” Due to compounding interest, investments grow much the longer that you hold them. While you might think that you can’t afford to save in your twenties and thirties, that’s actually the best time to do so. And it doesn’t have to be much; when you eventually retire, a dollar you invested at age 20 will be worth four times more than a dollar you invested at 55.

“I can’t afford to save for retirement.” Often this is just a matter of perception, as people with a variety of incomes all say the same thing! Saving is a habit that you create for yourself. So even if you feel that you can only save a few dollars per week, start doing it. When you prioritize saving for your future, other expenses will naturally become secondary to you.

“My inheritance will be enough.” As the saying goes, never count your chickens before they hatch. Many of the Gen-X and Millennial generations will be unpleasantly surprised at how much of their Boomer parents’ wealth is eroded by things like nursing home bills, end-of-life care, and even dramatic swings in the economy and housing market.

“I can downsize and live off of the equity in my home.” Sometimes this is a workable plan. But as the 2008 real estate crash taught us, we can’t count on home values remaining stable. And if you need to retire at the “wrong” time, this plan can backfire drastically.

“I can just keep working.” A 2018 Gallup poll found that the average age of retirement in America is actually just 61 years old. So much for the assumption that you can simply work until 70 or later! Whether due to healthy issues or something else, many workers have been forced to retire much earlier than they expected.

For much more realistic advice and retirement planning, let’s sit down and have a chat. We can help you create a financial plan that accounts for unplanned variables.