CHICAGO - No matter how many years you are from calling it quits, it's essential to have some kind of plan in mind for financing retirement.
The days of counting on Uncle Sam and a company pension to carry you through old age are long gone. We're living increasingly in a "yo-yo" economy -- short for "you're on your own."
But it's easy to get fooled by some of the myths about retirement planning or in misguided advice passed along by family or friends. Heeding bad tips could cost you in the future. Here are some of the most common myths about retirement planning, and the truth behind them.
MYTH NO. 1: It's OK to postpone saving for retirement until other needs are taken care of.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking it'll be easier to save for retirement in just a few more years. There are competing, expensive needs no matter your age -- from college loans, wedding expenses to home, kids and their college. Every year you delay means you'll need to save more in order to get on track.
MYTH NO. 2: Medicare will take care of almost all your health care needs.
Medicare covers about half of all health care costs for those enrolled in the program. For the rest, yes, you’re on your own. That means you’ll be on the hook for out-of-pocket costs for uncovered services such as long-term health care as well as dental, hearing and eye care, along with supplemental insurance costs.
MYTH NO. 3: You'll need far less income in retirement to maintain the same standard of living.
This may be true in some cases, but it could be a life-changing mistake to count on it. Surveys of retirees have found that many spend as much or more in the early years of retirement than before they retired.
MYTH NO. 4: You can claim Social Security early and still get full benefits later.
Applying for benefits as soon as eligibility begins at age 62 will entitle you to monthly checks immediately. But when you claim early, your benefits will be 25 percent less than if you had waited until full retirement age, and 75 percent to 80 percent less than if you'd been able hold off until age 70.