As inveterate watchers of sitcom reruns (and a real-life Felix/Oscar combination), my sister and I loved The Odd Couple while we were growing up. One of our favorite episodes featured a courtroom sequence in which Felix (Tony Randall) berates a witness to "never assume," and proceeds to use the chalkboard to demonstrate what happens when you do. More years later than I care to admit, the mere mention of the word "assume" makes me smile.
But assumptions aren't always a laughing matter, and that's certainly true when it comes to retirement planning, where "hope for the best, plan for the worst" is a reasonable motto. Incorrect--and usually too rosy--retirement-planning assumptions are particularly problematic because, by the time a retiree or pre-retiree realizes her plan is in trouble, she may have few ways to correct it; spending less or working longer may be the only viable options.
What follows are some common--and dangerous--assumptions that individuals make when planning for retirement, as well as some steps they can take to avoid them.