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Could those retired fools give the rest of us "getting close" tells us the 5 smartest and 5 not so smart things they did as preparation for retirement. Looking baack with hindsight, what is the single most important thing to do preparing for retirement?

I did more dumb things than smart. Maybe that's why I'm not yet retired (Next January, though!)

1. Got a univeristy education, which offered me a well-paid career path.
2. Got out of all non-mortgage debt early. (This rates high with me, and apparently with many here.)
3. We have saved prodigously for the past ten years. Maxed out 401K, wife's SEP-IRA, Keogh IRA's. and other savings.
4. Own our residence as opposed to rent. Some would disagree, but we have a lot of equity we wouldn't otherwise have.
5. Bought and held mutual funds. Started buying (too late - 1993), and bought front-end loaded funds (American Funds), but I have held them through thick and thin. The portfolio is broadly based. In the "bad" years of 1999-2002 we moved mostly horizontally (although our Small Cap World got clobbered.) The portfolio is worth several times the starting value today.
I have to add a sixth:
6. I am very pleased with the time-share units we have. We like to travel, and this gives us a pre-paid package of accomodations far superior to a hotel/motel. Buying was painful. But now we are glad to have the use of it. We have invested roughly the price of a new Cadillac, but the Caddy would depreciate faster. Both require maintenance (Time shares carry an annual maintenance fee), and, yes, there is an exchange fee. Still we have enjoyed the use of them.

Worst things:
1. Waited far too long to get serious about saving. Lived too well, didn't save nearly enough, early enough.
2. Bought a few "get-rich-quick" investments that didn't pan out. The old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Bought stocks relying on the advice of my Dean Witter advisor. 'Nuff said!
4. Bought bond funds (GNMA and High Yield - Dean Witter.) When interest rates soared in the 70's, I got clobbered.
5. Bought a variable annuity. A plain mutual fund would have been (and still is) better.

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