Never, ever cash out

retirement mistakes Kaufmann
  • Name: Roger Kaufmann
  • Age: 60
  • City: Folsom, Calif.

By the time he reached 35, Roger Kaufmann had accumulated $15,000 in retirement savings.

But then he lost his job -- and drained his savings. "Rather than really looking hard for work, I opted to cash it out and live off of the money," he said. "In retrospect ... that $15,000 cost me a heck of a lot more."

That money could have doubled or even tripled by now, thanks to compounding interest, he said.

Related: Are you on track for retirement?

Kaufmann started saving again in his early 40s. And so far he has about $250,000 saved, in addition to the value of the real estate he owns.

When Kaufmann lost his job in 2009, he decided to leave the private sector and focus on finding a government position that would allow him to earn a pension benefit. And he did everything he could to leave his retirement savings alone.

"I definitely learned my lesson and kept that money intact," he said.

First published August 28, 2014: 4:12 PM ET

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