Avoiding Common Retirement Planning Mistakes

Most people dream of the day when they can go to bed without having to set an alarm for work. Retirement might seem like a far-off reality but reaching retirement with a viable plan and sufficient money isn’t something that happens overnight. In order to live out your retirement comfortably, you’ll have to think ahead and plan accordingly. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall prey to common retirement planning missteps.

Know these common mistakes to help you avoid a future of stress and worry:

Waiting to save
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be to save enough. If you wait too long to start saving for retirement, you’re losing out on the benefits of compound interest. Waiting too long to save for retirement decreases your financial flexibility because if you start later, you’ll have to set aside more money from paycheck to paycheck, impacting your day-to-day expense management. Additionally, starting to save for retirement as soon as you can grants you access to higher risk, higher reward investment opportunities, increasing your chances of saving more for retirement.

Not making a retirement financial plan
In order to properly plan for retirement, you need to have a realistic financial plan that considers your planned retirement age, life expectancy, overall health, retirement location, and desired lifestyle. This will help you determine how much money you’ll need to save. Look at your plan with increasing regularity the closer you get to retiring and update it according to your changing needs. Working with a financial advisor can help you create an adequate plan that meets your needs.

Failure to take advantage of company matching
If your company offers a 401(k) with a matching program, we recommend you sign up to take advantage of all the available employer match. The employer match amount is usually a percentage of your salary that’s essentially free money that you shouldn’t leave on the table.

Making unwise investments
You might be thinking about investing in the stock market to save toward retirement. Though self-directed investing might seem like a good idea, learning the ins and outs comes with a steep learning curve. If this is an option you’re considering, consult with a financial advisor before making investment decisions that might negatively impact your retirement saving goals.

Poor tax planning
When you’re planning for retirement, you’ll need to think about taxes. If you think your tax bracket will be higher when you retire than while you’re working, a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA might make more sense because you’ll pay taxes on funds upfront and your withdrawal at the time of retirement will be tax free. If you think your taxes will be lower when you retire, a traditional 401(k) or IRA might be a better option because you’ll avoid paying higher taxes upfront and withdraw at a lower rate. We suggest consulting with financial advisor and tax advisor to strategize.

Carrying on too much debt
Whether it’s credit card debt, college debt, or personal loans, you won’t want to carry any of it into your retirement years. If you’re planning on not working, being financially independent grants you the greatest financial flexibility in your retirement years. Having loans to pay in your retirement years strains your cash flow when you’re on a fixed budget.

Underestimating medical costs
Advancements in the healthcare and technology spaces have increased life expectancy for the average person. The longer you’ll live, the more money you’ll need to care for yourself when you retire. Though there’s a lot you can do to stay healthy, the reality is that your healthcare needs and expenses are likely to increase with age. The cost of healthcare also increases year over year. These are all factors you need to think about, so you don’t end up with insufficient funds in your retirement years.

Not accounting for inflation
At this point, inflation is a word you might be tired of hearing. However, this just demonstrates how it’s a reality you’ll need to plan for while saving for retirement. If you don’t take inflation into account in your retirement planning, your savings might not be enough to tide you over in your retirement years.

Forgetting to balance your portfolio
Market conditions change, and volatility in the market comes with uncertainty that can impact your retirement investments. Therefore, you need to regularly balance your portfolio to maintain an asset mix that meets your needs. If you’re close to retiring, you’ll probably want to reallocate your assets to less risky investments to avoid the risk of losing your funds.

Taking out funds early
Cashing out on your retirement funds before the age of 59 ½ means that you could be subject to hefty penalties and taxes. This is money that you’re throwing away. By withdrawing funds early, you also lose out on the benefits of compounding interest. Taking funds out early usually means you’ll end up with less in the long run.

Quitting a job
There are many things you consider before deciding to leave a job, and one of them should be whether or not you’ll be leaving behind retirement funds you might have earned in the form of employer contributions to their 401k plan, stock options, or profit sharing. You don’t have full ownership of these funds until they’ve vested, meaning that they won’t belong to you until you’ve been employed for a certain period of time.

Forgetting to update important documents
No one likes to think about death, but it’s a reality, and your retirement planning needs to include estate planning. Determining the beneficiaries of your estate can be a sensitive area of retirement planning but make sure your beneficiary elections and estate are consistent with your personal wishes. If you don’t do this, this can lead to unnecessary and hurtful conflict between loved ones.

Claiming Social Security too early
If you file for Social Security at 62, you’ll lose out on some benefits. This is because delayed retirement credits incentivize waiting to collect. The government increases your benefit by an extra eight percent for every year after your Full Retirement Age that you wait to claim benefits up until age 70. If you can wait to file for Social Security, you’ll receive more in the long run. Be sure to get an estimate of how much you can expect to get from Social Security benefits so you can properly account for it in your retirement planning.

Planning to work late
Though you might think you’ll be able to work forever, you can’t predict if you’ll experience health issues, family problems, or a layoff. These are common situations that take people out of the job market at all stages of life. Even if you might plan to work, you don’t know if you’ll be able to, which is why this isn’t a stream of income you should count on when you’re planning for retirement.

Effectively managing your money for retirement requires careful planning. Though this might seem like an overwhelming task, partnering and regularly communicating with your advisor can help you stay ahead of potential planning mistakes so you’re in the best financial position possible when it comes time for you to retire.

Connect with our Retirement team today to learn more about how we can help you.



This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.

2023’s Must-Have Employer’s Checklist for Open Enrollment

It’s almost that time of year again: open enrollment season.

Whether your company conducts open enrollment for health insurance benefits in September or December, now’s the time to start planning for a stress-free experience for both you and your employees.

For 2023, rising inflation is spurring a number of changes that you’ll likely have to deal with or consider, and you’ll have to communicate with employees about it. Potential changes include:

  • Increased contribution limits for health savings accounts
  • Higher minimum deductibles for high deductible health plans (HDHP)
  • Higher maximum amounts for out-of-pocket expenses for HDDPs

So where should you start? How can you stay on track? What can you do to ensure a complete and successful process? Experts suggest several practical steps to help you manage your timeline for planning and implementing your open enrollment process.

Use the following multi-point checklist as a guide:

business team working


Reflect on last year’s open enrollment campaign. Understand what went right, what could have gone better and, which, if any, process improvements you would like to make this year.

Review overall company goals with leadership for coming year. Confirm (or adjust) your benefits strategy to align with it.

Determine overall changes that may impact your 2023 benefits budget. This includes major shifts in your workforce and possible mergers and acquisitions, as well as new office locations that could impact or pose challenges for how you communicate key dates and activities or how you execute your open enrollment process this year.



Survey various levels of your organization. Given that benefits are playing a very significant role in attracting and retaining talent, you may want to find out how satisfied employees are with your current healthcare options. Include questions that can probe for overall satisfaction with your offerings, carriers, and provider networks.

Analyze survey results and decide on action plan for addressing feedback.

­­Collect and compare benefits data from similar companies in your industry. Gauge your own company’s performance and look for potential opportunities to enhance your program.

Figure out how many employees are eligible for your benefits.

Coordinate, or work with your TPA to manage COBRA requirements for employees who experienced a qualifying event (e.g., job termination) during the year.

Communicate key dates for open enrollment with insurers and benefit providers so they can share information on their programs that you may need to pass on to your employees. Also, notify internal stakeholders, like payroll staff or finance department so they have ample time to prepare for their role in the process as well.


Evaluate health plans and renewal packages. Meet with your broker to review usage rates for current plans and discuss any new benefits you may want to offer such as telemedicine, fertility, FSA, and wellness programs. Compare details and pricing from your current carrier and other carriers on the market.

Review current HIPPAA, ACA, and other regulations so you can understand how any changes may impact benefit offerings to your employees.

Make 2023 benefits selections for your program.


Work with your team to review the options prepared by you and your benefits broker and finalize selections. See what type of information and decision-making tools (e.g., info booklets, calculators, etc.) your broker can provide that can help employees during open enrollment.

Assign a main point of contact to handle any and all employee benefits questions during open enrollment.

Inform employees when your 2023 open enrollment period will begin. Include key dates for major activities they won’t want to miss, such as virtual events and onsite meetings.



Roll out official employee communications program announcing the open enrollment period for 2023 benefits and share details. Use a variety of distribution channels, including emails, intranet, Teams, or Zoom to reach all employees.

As part of this effort: 

  • Update corporate calendar with important dates, events, and deadlines
  • Summarize changes to your existing plan options and update pricing
  • Announce any new offerings or programs
  • Remind employees that any life changes and health needs, such as major medical procedures, and dental work are variables they should consider when picking benefits
  • Provide descriptions and materials for plan options

Schedule temporary employees to help with added workload during open enrollment period. 


Begin sign up. Monitor activity with employees to ensure they elect or decline benefits before the deadline.

Communicate with employees about support hours, points of contact, and shared resources for getting answers to questions throughout the entire period.

Remind employees of due dates so they don’t forget to enroll.

Verify individual benefit selections, check for errors, and reach out to employees for corrections prior to submitting final forms.


Submit approved selections along with the group application to benefit providers and health insurers.

Address any issues from your broker or benefits providers.

Follow up until everything is approved.

Managing your benefits strategy is pivotal in attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive hiring market. Connect with our benefits team to learn how we can help you build the right program of offerings that differentiates you from the competition. Our team is here to provide the ongoing support and expert guidance you need to prepare for open enrollment.

Contact our Employee Benefits team.

business team working



This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.

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