retirement investing mistakes

We all make mistakes. But when it comes to finances, one mistake can make a big difference in your financial well-being — especially at retirement. It’s the difference between retiring well and asking yourself, “Well, retire how?”

Here are four common mistakes that are easy for near-retirees to make and what you can do to avoid them:

Thinking you don’t need help.

Cut through the jargon and get help managing your wealth. According to our research, those who seek help (through target-date funds, managed accounts, or online advice) are generally better off and earn higher median annual returns than those who go it alone.*

Misusing Target Date Funds (TDFs).

When it comes to TDFs, it really is all or nothing. By not allocating 100 percent of your portfolio to them, you may actually hurt your investment returns by taking on too much or too little risk. Workers who are partially allocated to TDFs can see average median annual returns that are 2.11% lower, net of fees, than people who use target date funds correctly and 2.61% lower than those in managed accounts.

Attempting to time the market.

Market timing is a dangerous game. You are far better off with a long-term, consistent, and diversified investment strategy. Figure out what kind of portfolio you want and stick to that strategy over the long term, because jumping in and out of the market rarely pays off.

Company stock can throw off the balance.

The truth is that company stock — any company’s stock — can be one of the most volatile and high-risk investments in your 401(k) plan account. While mutual funds or Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are made up of a variety of other investments to help diversify their risk, company stock risk is highly concentrated on the performance and prospects of a single firm.

While it’s always possible to learn from your mistakes, Financial Engines would rather help you avoid them all together. If you are eligible to work with us (find out here), we have different ways to help you based on your individual needs.

*Within the Help group managed accounts and online advice are provided by Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. The data for the research are drawn from 14 large 401(k) plans. All returns reported in the research are net of fees, including fund specific management and expense fees, and managed account fees. Please access the report for a full description of the methodology and data used.