Originally published in the October 2011 issue of “The Palm Beach Letter“
I consider myself to be an expert of sorts on retirement. Not because I’ve studied the subject, but because I’ve retired three times.
Yes, I’m a three-time failure at retiring. But I’ve learned from my mistakes. Today, I’d like to tell you about the worst mistake retirees make.
It’s a very common mistake. Yet, I’ve never heard it mentioned by retirement experts. Nor have I read a word about it in retirement books. The biggest mistake retired people make is giving up all their active income.
When I say active income, I mean the money you make through your labor or through a business you own. Passive income refers to the income you get from social security, a pension, or from a retirement account. You can increase your active income by working more. But the only way you can increase your passive income is by getting higher rates of return on your investment (ROI).
When you give up your active income, two bad things happen:
First, your connection to your active income is cut off. With every month that passes, it becomes more difficult to get it back.
Second, your ability to make smart investment decisions drops because of your dependence on passive income.
Retirement is a wonderful idea: put a portion of your income into an investment account for forty years, and then withdraw from it for the rest of your life. Once you retire, you won’t have to work anymore. Instead, you will fill your days with fun activities: traveling, golfing, going to the movies, and visiting the kids and grandkids.
It’s a great idea. But it never actually worked.